Mr. Boersma, I’d like to add some context to your remark that Democrats “bled and died to preserve slavery.” While technically accurate, the faction of Democrats in the states that formed the Confederacy were almost entirely a different group of the overall national party. Hence the reason why the Democratic nominee for president in 1860 was Stephen Douglass, while the Southern Democrats nominated John C. Breckenridge.

Despite being remembered for it, Abraham Lincoln did not begin the war with the goal of freeing the enslaved. In May of 1861, Union General Benjamin Butler referred to runaway slaves as “contraband.” By late 1862, Lincoln had settled on the notion of allowing escaped slaves to pass through Union lines to undermine the Confederacy’s ability to wage war.

But Lincoln saw very heavy push-back from members of his own party, as well as Northern Democrats, when he chose to move forward with true emancipation of the enslaved, something which he was not certain he was legally allowed to do as president.

The political landscape surrounding both parties as a whole has changed over time, of course. But the current Democratic and Republican parties are not what they were 150-plus years ago when our nation was split over our “peculiar institution”; and to suggest that they are is not entirely correct.

I’d enjoy the chance to speak with you about this at greater length if you would like. Please feel free to ask my number from the News Messenger. Thank you.

— Jonathan McCarty, Marshall