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Black History Month: How a Chicago Congressman Created Black Generational Dependency 

Black History Month: How a Chicago Congressman Created Black Generational Dependency 

Most historians cite the Great Depression as the pivotal time when Negro Americans deserted their post-Civil War loyalty to the Republican Party in favor of the Democratic Party … Franklin Roosevelt … and the New Deal.  On the surface, that argument seems compelling.  

There is no doubt that the impact of the Depression – the blame leveled at President Hoover and the Republicans — played a major role in the number of blacks who were gradually changing their votes to the Democratic Party in the 1932 and 1934 elections.  It was an act of desperation.  A lot of white voters did the same.  However, the conversion was not as sudden as many have been led to believe.

By most estimates, FDR received only 20 percent of the black vote in 1932 – three years after the start of the Depression.  That might suggest that the Depression itself did not launch the switch to the Democratic Party.  By 1936, the shift was evident with Roosevelt getting an estimated 70 percent of the black vote.  Since then, no Republican presidential candidate has received more than 40 percent of the black vote.

Was black loyalty due to the Depression or something else?  Even if the Depression had triggered the switch, was there something else that kept the black vote in the Democrat column?

There was a factor that might explain the long-term loyalty of blacks to the Democratic Party – and it, too, can be explained by economic desperation.  It was not, however, a desperation resulting from the Depression but rather an impoverishment created in the black community by racist policies commencing with the New Deal. 

By the late 1930s, there was every indication that black voters were returning to the GOP.  Publications, such as Life Magazine, reported on that trend.  In fact, the majority of black voters were registered Republicans until the 1948 presidential election.

So, what was the dynamic that cemented black loyalty to the Democratic Party even after the effects of the Depression were ebbing – at least for white America?  What is the reason millions of blacks vote for Democrats even though they have been living in segregated impoverished, and dangerous communities for more than 150 years after the Civil War and more than 50 years after the 1960s civil rights era — communities ruled over almost exclusively by Democratic Party?

That is where the Chicago story comes in.

There was a local black leader in Chicago named William Dawson.  He was initially a Republican alderman but switched parties when the Democrat political bosses offered him the position as Second Ward Democrat alderman and “boss” of all the black wards. He was made head of what was called the Democrats’ political “sub-machine.”  He later became a congressman.

Dawson came up with a fiendishly clever way to keep black voters in the Democrat column – and ironically, President Roosevelt provided the opportunity.  Dawson would tie voting to the receipt of the welfare benefits created by the New Deal programs.  Rather than simple bribery – favors and money for votes – the Dawson scheme would create an ongoing relationship between government welfare and voting.

Roosevelt liked Dawson’s plan so much that he arranged to have him named as a vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee – with the proviso that he would travel the nation to sell his scheme to Democrat leaders in major urban centers with large segregated black populations.

What Dawson was able to do was to change the definition of civil rights from those articulated in the Constitution to a faux civil right to welfare.  Generational dependency on welfare would be the new measure of civil rights.  It would keep the segregated black masses suspended between impoverishment and welfare assistance of all kinds – housing, food stamps, daycare, and healthcare.  It would also allow the Democrat bosses to keep blacks segregated and impoverished – in other words, desperate for Uncle Sam’s charity.  It would be just enough to maintain a minimal survival economic status, but not a path to upward mobility and social mobility – enough to keep blacks in their place and voting Democrat.

With the focus on welfare as the premiere civil right, Democrats could continue racist policies that deprived blacks of their constitutional rights – ergo de facto racism that has characterized the Democrat-run cities.

As the plan unfolded, millions of blacks were hooked on welfare as the only means of economic survival.  Those trapped in the inner cities would not have access to America’s opportunity society.  They would be oppressed by unequal justice … inferior schooling … redlining to prevent integrating into white neighborhoods … inferior housing … inadequate city services … deteriorating infrastructure … and cultural prejudice.  All that was surrendered for the civil right of welfare dependency.

Life in the ghettoes had many of the same attributes of life under slavery.  The return for sustenance was the vote instead of the cotton.  It is why the segregated cities have been referred to as “economic plantations.”

The effectiveness and perniciousness of the welfare-for-votes scheme was reflected when President Johnson later told a group of southern Democrat senators that his War on Poverty programs would “keep niggers vote Democrat for the next 200 years.” (I do not euphemize the N-word in direct quotes.)

Ironically, Dawson’s idea is in effect today.  Our major cities are still segregated.  Those living in the ghettoes still suffer the deprivation of equal justice …  quality education … safe housing and safe streets … crumbling infrastructure.  The oppression has resulted in thousands of protests and hundreds of deadly destructive riots born out of frustration.  Riots occur where the segregation, racism, and oppression exist (duh!) – and those riots take place almost exclusively in cities with longstanding one-party Democrat rule. 

Dawson was not a greatly admired figure in the black community of his day.  He was not a crusader for civil rights in Chicago.  He was widely criticized by black leaders and publications as a crony of the white establishment.  They were not wrong.  But those suffering the conditions in America’s iconic segregated ghettoes are the generational victims of one man with malignant idea – and its implementation by the Democratic Party.

The message to black voters should be the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Until that changes, we should rename the segregated ghettoes as “Dawsonvilles.”

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

25 Comments

  1. frank stetson

    The guy died in 1970, how did he do this? As far as I can tell, he is never associated with the creation, maintaining, or enhancing of welfare programs. He was a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee; who the heck listens to that guy?

    Most civil rights leaders did not even like the guy, and said so.

    I can not find any sources for your conclusions. Tell us where to look if you might, sounds fascinating.

    • Tom

      Yeah Frank, I dunno. Larry has both of us a bit perplexed on this one.

      You know how often I have said I am interested in truth, not party, and that I have no use for either party. I still maintain that opinion. But Larry has me genuinely confused and confounded!

      When I read about this Dawson guy I find he was a smart hardworking bright politician, the very kind of hard working black person that Larry likes. Then he is first rejected by the GOP after being one of them for years. So the guy runs as an independent (ya gotta love that) and loses, which is ok. He re-assesses his beliefs, convictions, and opportunities, and comes out as a Dem under the tutelage of Mayor Daley. I’m ok with that, everybody gotta be loved by somebody, right? If GOP is not going to give him the chance, then why not the Dems, seems fair to me. So he resonates with FDR’s programs which is fine, so did many GOPs. Now here is where it gets really strange. He should have been viewed by Black Americans as a war hero and role model – but that did not happen! Mostly because he was against “racially motivated policies” something that Larry would agree with. So he never gets any Black American recognition. But that does not stop him. He serves as a congressman until he dies. Now, I find after researching committees back then, he served on “Government Operations” which is now called the “Oversight Committee”, and he served on the Coinage, Weights and Measures Committee which was desolved into the Banking Commission and the Foreign Commerce Committee . I mention this because what Larry talks about is Welfare Programs which comes under Ways and Means Committee, and Food Stamps (now called SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) comes under the Dept. of Agriculture. I am not sure Larry knows it is now called SNAP, but as Larry says, I digress.

      So the only thing I can conclude in the absence of Larry not mentioning any references, and all three of us being older than the dirt we walk on, is that this must be some sort of personal vendetta possibly because Dawson may have denied Larry some opportunity, or, Larry is very adamantly against Mayor Daley which he has often professed. Either way, these would fall under personal experiences and perception, not necessarily historically accurate accounts. My perception from the historical accounts is that this Dawson guy was trying to further his political career and allied himself with one party because the other party rejected him. He does not appear to have been engaged in “getting Blacks dependent on Welfare and Food Stamp programs” but rather he was converting five Chicago districts based on his feeling of rejection by the GOP and his lack of seeing any real opportunity for Black Americans in the GOP (which would seem to speak of GOP “covert racism) – so it had nothing to do with making Black Americans “generational dependents” as Larry seems to indicated that he was heavily engaged in this type of effort. Also noteworthy is that Larry did not mention that Dawson was a WWI hero, an LT in the US Army, law school graduate who worked his way through, and that Dawson started his political career with the GOP but was rejected by them in a bid for 2nd district alderman. I find this a bit disingenuous.

      Personally, as an Independent, yeah I do not like that he was involved in this “patronage system” of Mayor Daley, but all in all, I think the guy was a role model in several ways. The kind of guy I would like to talk to.

      What did you find? Your thoughts?

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson. … You comments are wrong based on irrelevancy. What is you point. He died in the 1970s? His critical impact on welfare for votes was in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.– setting up the system in place even today. Whether he was instrumental in legislative establishing the welfare programs is irrelevant. He worked at the implementation level as part of “constituent services.” And you OPINION that as vice chair of the DNC, he had no influence on the subject of the commentary is just irrelevant, wrong and ignorant. No cigar.

      • Frank stetson

        Actually, we were clear. Both Tom and I. It’s an interesting story, love to see more support than just your unsupported allegations about Dawson that seem to go outside what others have chronicled.

        But keep tap dancing, it’s cute.

        My opinion is not ignorant or irrelevant. Tom’s either. Its our opinions, how can you even say that? Our questions are relevant, clear, and you are tap dancing around them. Little support, no sources, one lamé anecdote. The gospel according to Larry does not pass.

        We expressed interest, don’t think we said you were wrong, just wanted more background and support.

      • Frank stetson

        Larry, he took congress in 1943, so 30’s? He was a Republican in the 30’s.

        As DNC, vice chair, I can confirm his interest in bringin Blacks to the party. That’s just common sense.

        The rest is your opinion which is not irrelevant or ignorant. Just not supported well by you.

    • mike

      I lived and worked near the Chicago area most of my life. I worked for a corporation that would allowed upward mobility. The game the Democrats play is nothing short of being the drug deal on the street corner. I don’t say that lightly. With help from DC. A woman has a child and DC and Illinois give said woman $1000.00 a month to rise the child. Subtitles for rent, heat, food and transportation. the second child you get an additional $1000.00 and so on. You have 6 children you get $6K a month. More food stamps.
      Now back to where I worked. Blacks would get the jobs. Live with a woman is few cases. But had many children. Never marries. Why never marrying. The $1K per child would stop. It’s a viscous circle. I tried to point this out and was told free money and free health care, free food, free phones, just enough to live.
      This is how it’s worked since 1964 and acceleration

  2. Robin W Boyd

    This is a rational article on how Black Americans who were mostly Republican decided to support Democrats who provided government welfare at the cost of financially enslaving Black Americans for generations to come. FDR may not have been evil, but he was a racist Socialist.

    • Tom

      Actually if you check the HISTORIC record you will find that during this time period, Black Americans were already migrating in higher numbers to the Dem party. The “mostly Republican” was already in a state of flux – and not due to Dawson. At the time this migration to the Dems began, Dawson was GOP! But Larry did not tell you this!

      As far as government programs like Welfare, I think you will find as many if not more Whites enslaved by the same programs! Currently the breakdown is: White: about 37 percent; African American: 26 percent; Hispanic: 16 percent; Asian: 3 percent; and Native American: about 2 percent. (About 16 percent of participants are categorized as “race unknown.”) My point here is that dependency is not a condition of only the Black American race. Dependency does not know any party, it only knows need.

  3. Tom

    Ok, so I am looking up this William Levi Dawson guy. Seems like he was a very motivated guy, and at least in the first half of his life a kind of person Larry would call a “patriot”. See “https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/dawson-william-l-1886-1970/”. Seems like for the first 53 years he was a stand up kind of guy, someone Larry, Tom, and Frank would like to have a bee and some good Chicago BBQ ribs with. But later, after his republican stint ended in 1939, he switches party and gets elected to Congress in 1942, 28 years before his death. At this point, he seems to get involved in something called voter Machine-endorses candidates and takes favors and rewards for the machine endorsed Dems winning races at all levels.

    Seems to me, this Dawson guy is being given too much credit. Two statements from history.house.gov say the pull by Dems on the black voter was already in progress – and Dawson simply joined it to further his career. For full history of Dawson, see “https://history.house.gov/People/Detail/12028”

    Statement 1) “Dawson’s support from the Democratic mayor and his decision to challenge De Priest reflected the pull of the Democratic Party on Chicago blacks, the lure of patronage rewards within the Democratic machine, and a general impatience with the old guard of black leaders tied to the GOP.9 Having challenged his mentor, Dawson effectively severed his ties to leading black Republicans, who passed him over for the party nomination for another term on the city council. Running as an Independent, he failed to secure re–election.”

    Statement 2) In line with the growing shift of many African Americans from the Republican to the Democratic Party, Dawson cited “the influence and liberalism of Franklin D. Roosevelt” as his primary motivation for changing parties. As a committeeman, Dawson efficiently organized his political base, using his precinct workers to help transform other predominantly black wards into Democratic voting blocs.

    But I do see why Larry may not like this guy. He kept a tight grip on the power controls (pro Dem) when Larry was attempting to run for office. Dawson also was a Mayor Daley man, and Larry does not like Mayor Daley. Mayor Daley is generally accepted as a bit of a crooked politician who kept a tight grip on power using a rewards “Patronage System” for which Daley was rather famous for – I lived in Chicago back then for a year, I remember this!. Larry most likely did not get any rewards from Mayor Daley.

    But the article makes two points very clear: 1) Dawson rarely if ever placed race above party. 2) The Daley administration was very insensitive to the plight of black Americans in Chicago. 3) Dawson usually did not want his name attached to racially motivated civil rights legislation. Dawson was often accused of being a tool of the white man. Dawson did once remark, “Politics is not a hobby to be worked on in leisure hours, but it’s a job—a full–time job that pays off only if a man is willing to apply the energy, start from scratch and profit by his experience.”

    The problem I am having in believing the statement in this blog, “What Dawson was able to do was to change the definition of civil rights from those articulated in the Constitution to a faux civil right to welfare. Generational dependency on welfare would be the new measure of civil rights.”. I cannot find anything that states Dawson was even on any kind of Congressional committee that worked in the areas of food stamps, welfare, etc. And it seems like the official Congressional history on Dawson suggests otherwise.

    Larry can you point me to an article or history that states what you are asserting. You seem to make Dawson sound like a “pay to play” kind of guy, which to some extent he was, but I can find nothing on his pay to play having anything to do with Johnson Administration programs, as matter of fact, he opposed these programs. Help me Larry!!!

  4. larry Horist

    Tom … I will be quick. I am sure there are chroniclers that write a more favorable history of Dawson. He was drawn to the Dems for enhanced political power. His job was to ensure the black vote. Where was already a bribes (favors) for votes) dynamic, but not with emphasis on government welfare. Dawson’s plan did not require serving on some House welfare committee. Dawson, as a member of Congress, used his office’s “constituent services” to connect welfare programs to the vote. It was brought to FDR’s attention by Harold Ickes. Roosevelt had him named Vice Chair of the DNC to sell or perfect the welfare for votes concept. That has been the basic foundation of civil rights debate to this day.

    The implication of the Dawson project is ….. forget about education, jobs, safe streets, upward mobility, immigration ….. and remember who gets you the welfare.

    This passage from you got my attention … “Dawson cited ‘the influence and liberalism of Franklin D. Roosevelt’ as his primary motivation for changing parties. As a committeeman, Dawson efficiently organized his political base, using his precinct workers to help transform other predominantly black wards into Democratic voting blocs.” You seem to suggest that it was a matter of abstract philosophy. That is not what motivates votes. Specifics motivate votes. It was FDR’s “influence and liberalism” as reflected in the welfare offerings that kept blacks from returning to the GOP — as they started to do.

    I see you reference the House official biographies. They do not entirely whitewash the histories, but they do — for obvious reason — make as positive as possible.

    I am not sure why you assume who I like or do not — and why that would have any bearing on the facts. And you suggestion that my opinion may be influenced by Dawson’s tight control on power when I ran for office. Good lord! How old do you think i am. the guy was long dead when I ran in Chicago.

    Here is an excerpt from the intro to my book that show how the Dawson scheme became standard operating procedure in the ghetoes for the Dem machine. Excuse the language, but as I noted, I quote accurately.

    “The experience at the mock convention led me to greater political activism. I stayed with the Republican Party. I was comfortable with what I knew about Republicans, and had developed a bit of disdain for racist Chicago “machine” politics. It appealed to that side of me that tended to challenge authority. Since I could not recall ever seeing a Republican precinct captain in my neighborhood, I volunteered my services. The Democrat precinct captain was as 60ish Irishman while I was still a teenager.
    I would often see him at Al’s Tap and Pizzeria, the local watering hole for the working community and a hangout for the too-young-to-drink crowd. My counterpart and I would often have a friendly discussion. I think he saw me more as John’s and Lorraine’s kid than competition.
    On one occasion, I raised a subject that had been bewildering me. How, I wondered, does Mayor Daley get the majority of both black and white votes when they seem at odds with each other?
    Without a moment to ponder, the Democrat precinct captain responded in his Irish brogue. “It very simple, me boy,” he said. “I go around this neighborhood and tell all the good folks that we need to keep electing Mayor Daley and the Democrats because they’re keeping the niggers from moving north of Division Street.”
    “Now, there’s guy like me, a nigger guy, who tells the folks south of Division that they have to keep voting for Mayor Daley and the Democrats if they want to get into public housing and get their welfare checks – or if they need to get their kid out of jail. They get taken care of as long as they stay in their place.”
    In that one conversation, that blue collar Irish precinct captain taught me more how the system worked than my high school civics teacher and my college political science professors combined. It was the first, but by far not the last time, that I heard of blacks having their own peculiar “place.” I came to learn that is was sometimes a physical place like a slum, as we called it then, but place could be a form of social behavior – a subservience. It made me realize the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party and solidified my dedication to the Republican Party as the best vehicle to pursue my forming political beliefs – although I was still too immature to substantively define them as “conservative.”

  5. Tom

    Ok Larry, fair and good answer. Now we are getting somewhere! Let me evaluate it.

    You seem to call it “Dawson’s System” when actually your quote states, “In that one conversation, that blue collar Irish precinct captain taught me more how the system worked than my high school civics teacher and my college political science professors combined. ”

    Q1) So it was really an Irish White man’s system that Dawson adopts, his way of convincing both races to vote Dem, right?

    Q2 Now this quote, which I assume is from Dawson, is referenced in your book. Is there a source that I can use and read this account myself?

    Q3) At the time of this Dawson quote, Dawson seems to be GOP? right?

    Q4) Was it GOP racism, (associated with not choosing him as their man for 2nd district alderman), that caused Dawson to defect to the Dem party after a run as an independent? And then Dawson used the Irishman’s system to recruit for five precincts in Chicago?

    Q5) Where can I read an accurate account of Dawson taking this Irishman’s System on the road for FDR? I am still not making that connection outside of Chicago?

    Is this where you are getting some of your info, at “https://interactive.wttw.com/dusable-to-obama/dawsons-black-machine” I am comfortable with your assertion that he was involved in the patronage system for political gain. I am comfortable that Dawson helped Blacks migrate to the Dem party. But this article also says that the migration of Black Americans from GOP to Dem began in 1930, and, that Dawson was a part of that migration at the end of that decade.

    I found a very interesting and indepth analysis as to why Black Americans shifted from GOP to Dem. This issue is very complex and starts well before Dawson. Dawson seems to have been an advocate for improving the social and economic and political conditions for Black Americans. This one statement seems to sum up the reasons for the shift, “In short, Republicans failed to develop a program which could attract major elements of the new, urban America,” (258) a constituency that formed the core of the Roosevelt New Deal coalition that propelled Democrats into power in the 1930s.” Later it even states, “Combined with the ambitious and restless nature of the new arrivals, this led to a greater political power that was manifest in the election of Black politicians to many state and local offices in the North. In Chicago, for example, where most Blacks were located, political leaders began to realize the potential and importance of Black vote in their areas when Oscar De Priest was elected alderman, a precedent in the history of Black America (Nordhaus-Bike, “Oscar DePriest”). In big cities and urban centers such as New York, Blacks gained much more strength that by 1917 they were able to send Edward A. Johnson, the historian and teacher to the state assembly (Franklin 342). With time Blacks learnt to seize opportunities and take advantage from their status and political potentialities.” and then his book goes on to say, “. However many white Republicans were defeated or opposed for their attitudes toward race and for being unfair to Black politicians in distributing patronage…”

    By the time of Dawson, there were several Black Americans in power positions in all levels of Illinois and Chicago government. They learned from the whites how to wield power and how to improve things for them. So I conclude it was not a Dawson issue and selling hand outs, it was taht at least two decades before the New Deal, a group of “New Negros” developed and learned how to use politics to improve their situation which was desperate after the Depression. The New Deal and Dawson just were part of a much larger movement that shifted the Black American vote from GOP to Dems because these “New Negros” learned that the GOP really was not interested in improving their condition, and, Dems were interested in them and improving their conditions. Dawson was a “New Negro” who as I said earlier, was concerned about the Negro situation. Yes he may have used the Irishman’s system, but his interest was improving the Negro position in life as well as consolidating his power. GOP would not listen to him, so the Dems did. Now GOP whines. See this interesting and rather neutral account called “Blacks in the New Deal. The Shift from an Electoral Tradition and its Legacy ” and download some of the book, enough to get the whole picture, at “https://www.grin.com/document/276294”

    Glad my reference to your losing to Dawson titillated your aging sensitivities. It was fun! 🙂

    • larry Horist

      Tom … one more. First, I was very disappointed in your one response were you pulled a Frank Stetson on and seemed to be more interested in discrediting me — or speculating on my motives — than dealing with the issues. All that stuff about some grievance I had with Dawson and Daley. I was only getting into m y political age as they were exiting the scene –as in dropping dead, I think it is also fair to say that I obviously had a LOT more experience at the grassroots in the segregated inner city. Perhaps you do not know the extent of it .. or the personal friendship I had with Harold Washington and the fact that I was the campaign spokes person for Eugene Sawyer campaign. I learned a lot about Dawson from folks who knew him very well.

      Yes … blacks shifted in 1936. FDR only got 20 percent in 1932. As I wrote… Dems were concerned that blacks would drift back in 1940 etc. Creating generation dependency was the means to stop that trend — and it worked.

      Again it is timing. When Dawson was working on this effort, there were virtually no blacks in power position in Chicago. There was tokenism starting under Daley in the 1950s. Dawson had power, but only over the black population — and he was subservient to the white power structure. A modern version of the “house slave.” He represented the machine, not the people,

      Q1. You have the timetable wrong. Dawson worked on the scheme in the 1930s/1940s. My conversation with my Irish friend was 1960. He was just how the scheme was working at the granular level. He was only one of innumerable precinct types working the scheme across the nation by then.

      Q2 Not sure what quote you are referring to .. but all quotes are referenced in the book.

      Q3 See above.

      Q4 The GOP was totally committed to civil rights and the Congressman in that district at the time .. de Priest … was a Republican. He was the last of a score of black republicans who served in the House and Senate, but were driven out of office by resist Democrats in both the south and the big cities.

      Q5 It was part of his job description at the DNC. The details are in a pile of notes that I am not going to take the time to dig through.

      In reference to my last comment. I have neither the time nor the inclination to engage with you and Frank on all your questions. You can take my writings … my opinions … as you wish — and respond as you like. I assume that you and Frank have a lot of time on your hands and have made me and this site a retirement hobby …lol. Or in Frank’s case an obsession.

      For the record .. I am officially retired, but not. Not only do write 30 to 40 commentaries every month. I need to devote more time to the book. I have just completed a screen play and working on a second. I have a children’s book that is at the illustrations phase. I also produce comedy and sketch material for a friend. And I have been asked to work up a stand-up comedy routine for me to perform at senior homes. I both deal and collect antique items — mostly Asian. I am currently involved in my youngest son’s March wedding. As father of the groom, i only get a non-speaking walk on part…lol Sorry I cannot deep up with the role of professor in American racism 101.

      If I ever get the book done, you can see the big picture.

      • Frank stetson

        “Pulled a Frank Stetson.”

        What a backhanded way to launch the personal attack against a dog not even in the fight.

        Good thing you’re not emotional letting little things get under your skin.

  6. Tom

    Larry, from the five articles and book chapters that I have read tonight, there are some undeniable truths mentioned in all of the articles. They are:

    1) By the early 1900’s African Americans were well on their way to maturing in our political system and were a sizeable voting block. .

    2) The Great Depression was much harder on AA’s that White Americans in jobs, opportunities, and social equality, not just between Blacks and Whites, but also between North and South. North had opportunities and more job fairness, South had Jim Crow laws.

    3) By 1930’s, AA’s were no longer beholding to the party of their emancipation up North, and Southern AA’s had heard plenty about how things were different up North. They wanted more, they wanted policies from up North. They wanted to be listened to and they wanted a way out of the dire poverty the Great Depression and unfair policies put them into. They wanted to escape Jim Crow laws.

    4) By 1930’s AA’s learned how to organize, and how to wield power as a political voting block.

    5) By 1934, AA’s were very frustrated that the GOP would not listen to them. GOP was the party of “We emancipated you, now you owe us your vote”. Dems recognized this and became the party of “We will listen to you and help you improve your situation.”.

    6) FDR’s New Deal Coalition was born in 1936 but by then the AA migration to Dems was well on its way.. Dawson was a part if this migration of “New Negroes” whom were educated AA’s who could feel the AA experience and articulate a dream, something the GOP could not do.

    7) AA’s went for the dream which did include social supports. Many AA’s needed those supports because as you point out in your book, AA’s were so much more adversely affected by the Great Depression.

    8) The New Deal was pictures by AA’s as locking them into a dream, not locking them into the same old tired obligation.

    While they needed the social supports to get them out of dire poverty, they really wanted the dream and social equality. When Frederick Douglass was asked by the GOP post civil war what they could do for the Black Man, Douglass responded “Don’t do anything, just give them opportunities. They have legs and feet and hands, they can work.” Seems like the Dems went back to this old and wise message. GOP seems to have gotten stuck on the “We freed you theme.” but did nothing about their poverty. Dawson was an advocate for AA’s so it seems sensible that FDR would use him in this capacity.

    Larry, you say, ” You (Tom) seem to suggest that it was a matter of abstract philosophy. That is not what motivates votes. Specifics motivate votes. It was FDR’s “influence and liberalism” as reflected in the welfare offerings that kept blacks from returning to the GOP — as they started to do. “. I agree, Welfare can be a powerful motivator, particularly when it is expressed in terms of jobs like FDR expressed it! They were motivated by the message of a dream, not just a welfare check or any give aways.. And that is what I think is unfair in your post.

    • larry Horist

      Tom … Wrong again. You imply that “jobs” is what attracted blacks to FDR. Really? the New Deal was designed to take away their jobs. And check the unemployment rates in the segregated communities over time. The so Called “Great Migration” to the north began around 1900. Yes, blacks we looking to escape Democrat oppression and violence in the south …. BUT they were not getting it. De facto racism was almost as bad as Jim Crow rule. Dawson was an advocate for the white Chicago Democrat Machine. What he advocated for blacks was welfare, not jobs. You quote Republican Douglass (circa 1860s) and apply it to Dawson. You really have taken on a Pollyanna view of black life in the north during the period this commentary covers. Yes, FDR peddled a dream jobs and freedom, but in terms of blacks, it was a lie. My post covers a facet of Dawson’s history factually and fairly. You seem to have taken up the fairy tale version that is out there –written by those wanting to gloss over the truth. You will have to wait until the book is published to see the more compelling and more complete picture.

  7. frank stetson

    Based on the article, and before reading Tom’s response, my reading led me to a similar response and conclusion. I have it written up and will post later for fun.

    It is an interesting story and I thank Larry for bringing it to the table. A hidden piece of Black history. A man who was unique in Congress as a first Black Representative. A man compelled to leave the Republican Party that freed his ancestors. But Larry has another conclusion than other chroniclers and it’s just that Tom and I cannot reconcile Larry’s opinion with the facts documented elsewhere unless we take all of Larry’s conclusions as gospel. Larry’s anecdote just did not add much except perhaps his racial view of Irish politics in Chicago. Again, no facts beyond a quaint personal anecdote.

    Larry mentions a mock convention: what, where, what? As to the rest, not much different than other cities save the country-of-origin heritage of the power broker. The Irish in Philly were the subjugated, gained some power, but never like Chicago. We were more Italian focused. We did have Princess Grace though :>) But why fault Dawson for mastering the system and working within the system to better his constituency? The ole get along to git along? As long as it’s legal…..

    Bottom line: It’s not that we think Larry is wrong, we just can’t see the support, beyond his opiniated conclusions, to see that he’s right. Think Tom has been pretty clear what he is looking for. Myself, just looking for some meat on the bones for Dawson’s work as vice chair of the DNC recruiting Blacks into the Democratic Party — there’s just much on Dawson as vice chair at all.

  8. frank stetson

    I wrote this before Tom posted….

    He’s a turncoat Republican to Democrat and Larry does not appreciate him: go figure.

    He certainly isn’t in the advanced guard of civil rights movement.

    But getting the entire US Black race to become Democrats? Seems like too much credit for Dawson and not so much so for Black Americans.

    I just love when Republicans whine about the soul-sucking unintended aspects (which Republicans often see as purposefully intended) of welfare enslaving all who dare to dole. Combined with welfare Mom’s driving Caddies festooned with large screen tv’s inside, these tropes always let me drag out Bill Clinton once again as the Democrat welfare crusader fixing what Republicans can only bitch about! History does repeat itself and those who forget, are doomed to repeat the bitching…. Seems like some emotional baggage attached to this one.

    This one uses the famed trope of welfare dependency, the Democratic opiate of the Black masses who appear too stupid to realize they are being dupped into dole-living while adding a demon: the first Black Congressman as the culprit who fooled all the other Blacks into joining the Democratic party and then, these same Black dole devotees, not noticing any issues, stay with the Democrats for decades.

    The paragraph where the rubber meets the road: “Roosevelt liked Dawson’s plan so much that he arranged to have him named as a vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee – with the proviso that he would travel the nation to sell his scheme to Democrat leaders in major urban centers with large segregated black populations.”

    Fascinating. Wish I could read about it. Hopefully, Larry can rise to the occasion with more than a “obviously, you’re not from Chicago where everyone knows it.”

    Yeah, we did make mistakes with welfare in the 70’s, reformed it (thanks to Republican inputs) in the 90’s, and, thanks to Bill Clinton, it is much better today. Pretty hard to make a long-term living off the dole since 1996. At least not a very good one. And we liberals were wrong twice, people did not die in the streets after it was reformed.

    I too read up on Dawson and found much of what Tom found. I too love a Chicago dinner, steak, ribs, whatever, but the portions — OMGoodness, not for this man anymore… Used to love my special room high up on the point of the Sofitel with one bank of windows looking over the river, the other – the lake (if you bent a bit). Long hallway, banks of glass, could walk to the Navy Pier or down the Mile which was mandatory between dinner and bedtime. Wednesdays was fireworks at the Pier.

    Dawson was an interesting fellow establishing a number of firsts against tough odds. Born in Georgia in 1886, that’s gotta suck, he graduated HCBU Fisk U with a BA and Northwestern Law with a law degree, then served as a first lieutenant in France before returning home, passing the bar, setting up an office, and entering (and winning) local politics in Chicago as a Republican. He won.
    No matter how he did it, that’s an accomplishment.

    Dawson is an ole-time Chicago pol who used and benefited Daley machine political system tactics to further his goals and maintain his power though a rigorous patronage system. Dawson does not seem involved with the US Welfare System.

    I just can’t find the connection of Dawson/welfare/dnc/blacks enslaved by Democratic welfare system and Larry has not shown it, thus far, either.

    Dawson became a Democrat because he saw an entrenched Republican leadership that did not provide opportunities for new members and a Democratic Party that was showing more and more signs of liberalism, according to Dawson at least. The GOP ultimately blocked his renomination to city council as a Republican. Bottom line: he was ambitious and saw this as his best chance to advance. And advance he did. He created what was named: the Democratic “sub-machine,” meaning his own black patronage system working in tandem and in fealty to the Daley machine. To retain power, the “sub-machine had to abide and support the Daley machine, thus the “sub.”

    That’s Chicago politics.

    The first welfare program is under FDR in 1935; Dawson enters Congress as the first Black in the House, and the entire Congress, in 1942. Guess he didn’t invent it. That is a landmark moment in welfare and Dawson was not there. He becomes a Democrat because of what he viewed as FDR’s liberalism not found in the Republican party anymore and still missing today and to join Daley’s machine, in his own image. This extended Daley’s power within the Black communities without Daley having to do the heavy lifting or being associated with “those people.” Dawson saw it as a way to get Black’s power by working behind the scenes within the Daley machine. By the 60’s, civil rights leaders like King, whom Dawson ultimately opposes in Chicago, thought him reticent to speak out favoring working behind the scenes within the good ole boy system Chicago is known for. They favor open debate and transparency.

    One of Dawson’s major contributions was improving Armed Services integration stating: ““I know what segregation in the army means. . . . It is a damnable thing anywhere and I resent it.” He served with distinction in WWI.
    One of his first speeches was on behalf of FDR’s FEPC, a programmatic and racially challenged attempt to put equal rights in hiring, but he spoke about the armed services, not welfare, not equal rights for work. He lost: FEPC went down, then was re-established through a back door for a bit, and then ultimately defunded.

    It’s hard to see Dawson’s effect on welfare given early Congressional Black Members through the 1950’s were generally assigned pissant committee positions. Here again, Dawson broke the mold by serving on the Irrigation and Reclamation Committee from 43-47. But that’s not welfare. Dawson also was the first Black Congressman chairing a standing congressional committee earning his gavel on the House Expenditures in the Executive Departments Committee in 1949 until he died in 1970, not welfare either.

    Black civil rights leaders of the 50’s and 60’s often did not like Dawson because of his acceptance of the Daley machine, matter of fact, he ran his districts in the same manner of patronage, etc. offering fealty to the Daley machine. However, that’s where and how he got his power. But he was not a show horse, he was a work horse doing the heaving lifting from behind the scenes.

    Beyond voting, I am not sure what Dawson has to do with the US Welfare Program. Not saying it does not exist, just saying I cannot find the connection.

    I also can’t find any information on his activities as vice chair for the Democratic National Committee, so hopefully Larry can help frost that cake with some insightful readings. His point is most interesting.

    • Tom

      I agree Frank. Larry’s point is very interesting. I hope he can give us references to read about it. Sounds like interesting reading. I could not find the same things you could not find. I all cases I kept finding the opposite so to speak. Dawson was not on any committees that would have influenced the new Welfare program. I could not find any thing on his DNC FDR tours but did find that after he became a Democrat he was very influential in flipping five other districts besides his own to be Democrat. But that is the extent of tours I could find. I also found between several of the document but clearly stated in the last document I referenced that this migration of blacks from GOP to Dem did not begin with Dawson and as you said it is giving him way to much credit to think it did. Actual history puts the migration as beginning before the Great Depression, and the Great Depression and following years really exacerbated black poverty in the early 30’s. What I found was that blacks were not looking for a Welfare paycheck, they were looking for employment equality – as their situation did not repair for many years after the Great Depression. I had no luck finding what you said very well as the ” Dawson/welfare/dnc/blacks enslaved by Democratic welfare system” connection, I found nothing on it, zippo!

      In the end, I felt that this notion of Dawson intent of getting blacks dependent on Welfare checks in exchange for their vote is a low opinion of people that simply wanted jobs and work just like their white counterparts. Perhaps a few may have become dependent – but that would be because they could not find employment and a government check was their only choice for survival. At least that is the way I saw it after reading five documents.

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson … You really need to improve your game. Did you call Dawson the first black in the house? First of all, Oscar De Priest a black Republican was a member of the House at that time. There were many black Republicans in the House right after Reconstruction, And you and Tom seem to miss the point, I did not say that Dawson was the instigator of the FDR welfare programs. I said that he saw the opportunity they offered to tie the vote to welfare dependency by pushing welfare benefits ahead of providing the basic Constitutional rights. The plan was to keep blacks segregated … poor … dependent on welfare … and voting Democrat — to keep them in the place as second-rate citizens.

      • frank stetson

        Larry Horist: You really need to find your game. You’re a one trick pony and that pony is called Hate Democrats. Did I call Dawson the first black in the house? Do you comprehend when I say: “A man who was unique in Congress as a first Black Representative,” that I mean unique as A first Black Representative. Not the, but A. His unique part in that is that Dawson was the first Black in Congress to chair a standing congressional committee. And no, I don’t miss your point. You tag Democrats with “welfare dependency by pushing welfare benefits ahead of providing the basic Constitutional rights. The plan was to keep blacks segregated … poor … dependent on welfare … and voting Democrat — to keep them in the place as second-rate citizens.”

        That’s even more laughable with your update. You can change it, you can condense it, but I’m against it, said the Professor.
        Think about the lunacy of the argument: “vote Democratic and we will keep you on the dole as long as you don’t live with us, work with us, you must only vote Democratic and retain your second class citizenship while losing Constitutional rights. And pssst, don’t look behind the curtain to see what Republicans have to offer that’s so much better in the South.”

        You conclude that the dole is good enough for that? Or are you just concluding that Blacks are just really stupid while Republicans just can’t figure out how to spell it out in plain English for them? And you figured out the truth now: DEMOCRATS BAD, REPUBLICANS GOOD.

        We got it. It’s bogus, but we got it.

        And then you have the balls to conclude that Republicans “fixed” all that in the South.

        You are simple. You need to solve complex problems by determining a simple cause, generally a bad guy like Dawson. A Democrat. You drag out the old tropes starting with the Republican-urban legend that folks live off welfare. Even after the Clinton reforms of the mid-90’s, they still can get and live off the dole. And to get the dole, you must vote Democratic, to be able to retain your lifestyle in the ghetto. It’s old, it’s feckless, it’s not true.

        Racism is more than Democratic policies or welfare programs. Blacks are up against more than just politics. And it all blends to keep blacks out of middle class America. Getting out of poverty is hard for any race, creed or religion. It’s harder when you are Black on most aspects of trying to get ahead.

        • larry Horist

          Frank Stetson … You closed with “Getting out of poverty is hard for any race, creed or religion. It’s harder when you are Black on most aspects of trying to get ahead.” That that is virtually the only intelligent and accurate statement in your characteristically long rambling screed. But … you failed to note that it is even harder if you are one of the millions of blacks living in the the segregated maintained by de facto racism in our major … and yes … Democrat cities.

          • frank stetson

            Of course you have no facts to support your rebuttal that concludes I said nothing accurate and all unintelligent.

            By the same token, and you are, you seem to conclude that Blacks are not intelligent either, hoodwinked by Dawson to skip jobs and live on welfare in segregated ghettos with high crime, bad education, etc. To quote: “Our major cities are still segregated. Those living in the ghettoes still suffer the deprivation of equal justice … quality education … safe housing and safe streets … crumbling infrastructure. The oppression has resulted in thousands of protests and hundreds of deadly destructive riots born out of frustration. Riots occur where the segregation, racism, and oppression exist (duh!) – and those riots take place almost exclusively in cities with longstanding one-party Democrat rule.”

            Worse yet, Blacks apparently completely miss, quote you: “Republicans in state legislatures, as governors and as small town mayors have virtually nothing to do with the kind of virulent institutional de facto racism you find in the major cities with large numbers of segregated and oppressed populations In other words …”

            IOW, apparently all Blacks have to do to avoid institutional de facto racism, segregation, welfare, and poor education is move to Republican states, counties, cities, and towns. They don’t even have to vote for Republicans. They just haven’t figured it out and Republicans, like Larry, just can’t convince them how easy it is to end their misery at the hands of the evil Democrats.

            Just don’t move near those White Supremacists that vote Republican because they empower them. That would be: Montana, Tennessee, Nebraska, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Alabama, Virginia, South Carolina, Idaho, and Nevada. *https://thehill.com/changing-america/respect/578513-the-10-us-states-with-the-most-hate-groups/*

            Or, if you care about education, skip the bottom ten states: New Mexico (D), Alaska, Louisiana (D), Alabama, Arizona (D) West Virginia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas.

            Or if you want to make money, skip these bottom ten median income states: Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, New Mexico, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

            Apparently, lack of Democrats in power means less of many things, in many places, owned by those who honor equality in manners Democrats can’t.

            Well, there’s always Florida. Great public school system. Don’t expect AP courses in African American studies though, much less any form of CRT. Or to read a number of great books in school. Matter of fact, you can’t even read articles like Larry’s since it references Systemic Racism. Have to like lower wages, like top of the bottom half lower. Beyond that, it’s totally adequate on the concept of racism.

            On last item: there were more unarmed Black men shot dead by police in Republican States than Democratic States in both 2021 and 2022. Be careful out there.

            No, Larry is wrong: racism exists all across America. Whether overt or covert, individual or systemic, it’s everywhere and pushing it off only on Democrats, only in the metro’s, is incorrect. On the results of education, wages, and even White Supremacy. I won’t be like Larry and say it’s worse in Republican States, cities, towns, and counties, but it’s there.

  9. Wyatt Earp

    Not sure where Larry getting his information from. But the Republicans was started by 150 blacks men! Long before 1930! Thomas Sowell tell you that! Black move to democrat party when in 1965 REPUBLICANS GAVEN BLACKS THE RIGHTS TO VOTE! But then LB Johnson were against that! So to take away from the blacks family. DEMOCRAT PASSED A BILLS that DESTROYED THE BLACK FAMILY! WHICH LB JOHNSIN SIGNED AND PASSED IN 1968! Grain the black woman FREE GOVERNMENT WELFARE AS LONG AS THE FATHER WAS OUT OF THE FAMILY! THESE BLACK WOMEN SIGN THEIR RIGHTS TO VOTE OVER TO THE DEMOCRAT PARTY FOR LIFE! JOHNSON FAMOUS WORDS AFTER SIGNING THE BILLS WAS —NOW WE GOT THOSE “N” RIGHTS WERE WE NEED THEM FOR 200 YEARS!

  10. John J

    BLACK HISTORY is the GHETTOS that were once beautiful neighborhoods throughout America

    • larry Horist

      John J … Yes, that is black history. But the conditions you speak of are not do to the people or their race. They are the conditions that resulted from the racist policies of mostly white Democrat political machines. They are the results of not maintaining the infrastructure — streets, sidewalks, parks and even utilities. They are the results of not enforcing the building codes and occupancy limitations — creating dangerous and overcrowded tenements owned by politically connected slum lords. They are the results of denying quality education resulting in lack of job skills and unemployment, They are the results of not maintaining safe environments for residents and commercial enterprises. What you describe is not the result of race, but racism — the result of being impoverished and oppressed. The blame rests with the oppressors, not the opporessed.