Two Platforms in Pennsylvania, 1866: The Choice is Black and White

This is a political campaign poster from 1866. It’s described in Wiki:

“The two platforms” – From a series of racist posters attacking Radical Republican exponents of black suffrage, issued during the 1866 Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. (See “The Constitutional Amendment,” no. 1866-5.) The poster specifically characterizes Democratic candidate Hiester Clymer’s platform as “for the White Man,” represented here by the idealized head of a young man. (Clymer ran on a white-supremacy platform.) In contrast a stereotyped black head represents Clymer’s opponent James White Geary’s platform, “for the Negro.”

Below the portraits are the words, “Read the platforms. Congress says, The Negro must be allowed to vote, or the states be punished.” Above is an explanation: “Every Radical in Congress Voted for Negro Suffrage. Every Radical in the Pennsylvania Senate Voted for Negro Suffrage. Stevens [Pennsylvania Representative Thaddeus Stevens], Forney [John W. Forney, editor of the ” Philadelphia Press”:], and Cameron [Pennsylvania Republican boss Simon Cameron] are for Negro Suffrage; they are all Candidates for the United States Senate. No Radical Newspaper Opposes Negro Suffrage. “Geary” said in a Speech at Harrisburg, 11th of August, 1866–“There Can Be No Possible Objection to Negro Suffrage.”

This poster hails from the beginning of the Reconstruction era, just after the Civil War ended. The poster is correct in some respects. The so-called “Radical Republicans,” in and out of the US Congress, favored suffrage (voting rights) for the newly freed slaves. That policy was opposed in large part by the Democratic Party, using language that was sometimes viciously racist. Note that this poster was made by a northern Democrat, illustrating how divisive the issues of race and black rights were at the time even outside the South.

Source: Library of Congress CALL NUMBER: Broadside Collection, portfolio 159, no. 9 c-Rare Bk Coll. This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3g05342.

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