Journal of Historical Political Economy > Vol 3 > Issue 3

Gilded Age Doughfaces: Northern Democrats and Black Civil Rights

Richard Barton, Department of Public Administration and International Affairs, Syracuse University, USA, , David A. Bateman, Department of Government, Cornell University, USA,
Suggested Citation
Richard Barton and David A. Bateman (2023), "Gilded Age Doughfaces: Northern Democrats and Black Civil Rights", Journal of Historical Political Economy: Vol. 3: No. 3, pp 363-390.

Publication Date: 01 Nov 2023
© 2023 R. Barton and D. A. Bateman
American Political Development,  Political Parties
American political developmentcivil rightsracial politicsgilded ageparty politics


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In this article:
From "White Man's Party" to "Equal and Exact Justice" 
The Substance of Gilded Age Civil Rights 
Who Were the Pro-Civil Rights Democrats? 
"Northern Doughfaces" 


Accounts of issue realignments generally focus on positive cases. The late nineteenth century offers the opportunity to study a failed potential case of racial realignment. During this period, Democratic legislative majorities passed meaningful civil rights laws in a number of northern states, and Democratic governors signed such laws. This was an unprecedented shift for the party of white supremacy. Who were these northern Democrats who shifted toward racial liberalism, what factors drove their changing positions, and why was this "new departure" a historical dead-end? We document the extent of Democratic support across several decades and analyze the demographic and political correlates of individual support for state-level civil rights legislation. We find that northern states were most likely to pass protective legislation during periods of heightened competition, and that Democrats in electorally vulnerable districts were most supportive. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for theories of realignment.



Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 3, Issue 3 Special Issue: The Political Economy of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era: Articles Overview
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.