Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved. Aristotle

An acquaintance of mine told me several years ago that the Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Being from Louisiana, I thought that was not the way I remembered it.  I was 8 at the time so I thought I would go back and look at the historic data.  On face value he certainly had a valid case to make. 

Civil Rights Act of 1964 Signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, 1964.[1]

Here are the actual vote totals:

Totals are in “YeaNay” format:

  • The original House version: 290-130   (69%-31%)
  • Cloture in the Senate: 71-29   (71%-29%)
  • The Senate version: 73-27   (73%-27%)
  • The Senate version, as voted on by the House: 289-126   (70%-30%)

Here are the actual votes split by party:

The original House version:[2]

  • Democratic Party: 152-96   (61%-39%)
  • Republican Party: 138-34   (80%-20%)

Cloture in the Senate:[3]

  • Democratic Party: 44-23   (66%-34%)
  • Republican Party: 27-6   (82%-18%)

The Senate version:[2]

  • Democratic Party: 46-21   (69%-31%)
  • Republican Party: 27-6   (82%-18%)

The Senate version, voted on by the House:[2]

  • Democratic Party: 153-91   (63%-37%)
  • Republican Party: 136-35   (80%-20%)

However, after looking into it further I discovered the votes by region – northern versus southern.  Here is how that looks:

Here are the actual votes split by party and region:

Note: “Southern”, as used in this section, refers to members of Congress from the eleven states that made up the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. “Northern” refers to members from the other 39 states, regardless of the geographic location of those states.

Totals are in “YeaNay” format:

The original House version:

  • Southern Democrats: 7-87   (7%-93%)
  • Southern Republicans: 0-10   (0%-100%)
  • Northern Democrats: 145-9   (94%-6%)
  • Northern Republicans: 138-24   (85%-15%)

The Senate version:


After seeing this it came back to me why I thought the Republicans opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The reason I remembered it this way was because all the Southerners I knew switched parties from Democrat to Republican after that vote.  The Democratic Party in the Deep South largely became Republican in the years that followed.  It seems that Civil Rights raised a demon, the cry from the dying pangs of ghost of the Civil War.  Apparently, the Southern Democrats blamed their party for enacting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and seemed to have found a new and welcome home in the Republican Party.  This is why I associated the Republicans with opposing the act – everyone I knew while growing up that opposed it were Republicans – now.

[1]^ Dallek, Robert (2004), Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President, p. 169
[2]^ a b c King, Desmond (1995). Separate and Unequal: Black Americans and the US Federal Government. p. 311.
[3]^ Jeong, Gyung-Ho; Gary J. Miller, Itai Sened (2009-03-14). “Closing The Deal: Negotiating Civil Rights Legislation”. 67th Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association. p. 29. Retrieved 2009-11-04.

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