Sins of the Party: Democrats - The Slave Owners Party (Author Interview)

What motivated you to write "Sins of the Party" and shine a spotlight on the Democrats' role as the "Slave Owners Party" in the 1800s? 

I am a big fan of American history and I have seen some videos of interviews of people off the street being asked what political party was behind the slave trade. More people said it was the Republic party that was behind the slave trade. So, I did not want to write something myself, I wanted people who were there in the 1800s to speak to us and show us what really happened. To read of the arguments to and for slavery is to me such an eye opener and shocking on so many levels.

How did you go about selecting and curating the first-hand accounts for the first half of the book? Were there any accounts that were particularly challenging to include or omit? 

My love of stories helps push me to spend a lot of time researching stories from the past from many resources. The American Slave trade is one of the most brutal parts of our history and I can’t believe how one human will treat another.  There were so many brutal arguments for slavery to continue and what amazed me was how many people in the 1800s believed it was their God-given right to own slaves. I omitted many writings and speeches because I wanted to make this book powerful, moving and easy read so it could appeal to as many readers as possible. Unfortunately, this book could have been thousands of pages long.

The title “Sins of the Party” is provocative. Why did you choose it and how do you believe it encapsulates the essence of the book? 

The title actually came from my son, I told him what I was working on and needed a good title, and while we brainstormed as soon as it left his lips we both knew that encapsulated the essence of the book. It was abundantly clear that in the 1800s slavery was not just supported at a Southern state level but was making so many people rich at the top that the Democratic party that made the rule didn’t want the gravy train to end. The Sin part to me is that when a “sin” is committed there is a victim and that victim was the African-American community.

What were some surprising findings or revelations you encountered while compiling these writings from both sides of the aisle? 

I had always known the Civil War was about freeing slaves but to read the fierce fighting for the right to own slaves, to treat them as property, and to even dare say that this was the best for the African American community was astonishing. It really showed me that as humans we really can justify anything if it benefits us enough. Also, when someone stands up in bravery to speak out against evil there will be a fight and that is what the Republican Party did at that time, they stood up.

In the second half of the book, the narrative shifts to a more personal account of a fugitive slave from 1847. How did you come across this account, and what impact do you believe it has on the overall message of the book? 

I compiled another book last year called “American Slave” and I researched writings from former slaves. In that research, I kept some of those writings that I did not put in that book. I specifically chose a story from a fugitive slave because he was at the time of his writing in danger of being captured and brought back down south to his master and most likely would have been killed in a horrific way. I wanted to give this former slave a voice in the future and remind people how awful it was to be a slave and warn us to be careful who we put in power because that has serious consequences if we vote unwisely.

How do you think the Fugitive Slave Law Act affected the political dynamics of the time, especially considering that it was enforced in states like Massachusetts, which were typically seen as more abolitionist-leaning? 

I believe this act caused millions more to suffer and many to die as the government tried to pacify the rich slaveowners and those tied to that industry. It is a lesson learned that if you let evil simmer, soon the only thing it will lead to is a boiling point which in this case was brutal deaths on so many levels.

How do you respond to critics who might argue that highlighting the sins of one party from over a century ago may not be representative of its current values or ideals? 

I would say I believe in forgiveness but, when the time comes to pay for your sins its payment needs to come from the one that committed the sin. That is how Justus works. I also think that for forgiveness to take place one has to admit its wrongs from the past and ask those that it hurt for forgiveness.

Were there any moments during your research where you felt particularly emotional or affected by the stories you were uncovering? 

There were many but two places in this book really stick with me. At the start of the book one of the slaves talks about being put to bed as a young boy and waking up and his mom was sold off and he never heard or saw her again. And in the end story, another slave describes that he and his mom escaped and were on the run when he was in his late teens maybe early twenties, and they get caught. He tells of the last time he saw his mom. To punish her the owner sold her down to a hard-running plantation so they could work her to death. While reading that I couldn’t help but think of all the politicians and rich people arguing in the first half of the book, who got to go home and live in luxury as all of them suffered.

How do you hope "Sins of the Party" will reshape or contribute to the broader conversation about America's history of slavery and its political implications? 

I hope that it will give Americans a sense that there were many brave people that built this country and many of them were slaves and were not given any recognition for their contributions that made this country strong. We owe it to them to keep making this country stronger and better and it begins with taking our right to vote and who we have in power or take out of power seriously.

After completing this book, what do you believe is the biggest takeaway or lesson for readers, especially in the context of current political discourse and understanding history? 

I believe we cannot deny that slavery and the laws that were passed and held for so long on the political landscape by the Democratic party held back and decimated the African-American community for decades and there are still rippled effects from that time. Second, get out and vote, take it seriously, and do your best to put people in the seats of government who will do the best they can for our communities and country.