A recent letter writer espoused the tired view that Democrats were responsible for all the injustices toward African-Americans ["Democrats oversaw South's segregation," July 8].

The "Dixiecrats" the writer referred to -- George Wallace, Lester Maddox and Orval Faubus -- were Democrats only because being a member of "Lincoln's Party," the Republicans, was not possible in the South at that time.

At one time, the Democrats were the more conservative party. Starting in the late 1800s, party ideologies changed, and by 1940, the Democrats were mostly progressives. Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson faced strenuous opposition to the New Deal and civil rights legislation from conservative Republicans. And it's gotten even more extreme among today's Republicans.

Russell Alexander, Brentwood

In 1856, the Republican Party's first candidate for president was John C. Fremont. He was greatly influenced by his in-laws, Sen. Thomas Benton and wife, Elizabeth, who were from Missouri.

The Bentons were vehemently anti-slavery. Fremont did not win, but the tone was set for the 1860 election. With Abraham Lincoln's Republican win, the South seceded. Slave owners and anti-black rights rebels moved to the Democratic Party.

The South was a solid Democratic voting bloc until Lyndon Johnson's Civil Rights Act of 1964 started moving Southerners away from the Democratic Party.

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Today's South has completely flip-flopped, and now is mostly conservative Republican.

Robert Schmidt, Southampton