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Broadside Criticizing the Democratic Party, 1830’s


Materials in the Library of Virginia’s collections contain historical terms, phrases, and images that are offensive to modern readers. These include demeaning and dehumanizing references to race, ethnicity, and nationality; enslaved or free status; physical and mental ability; and gender and sexual orientation. 


This broadside, titled, "A Short Catechism on Negro Equality," is a criticism of actions of the Democratic Party in the 1830s. To discredit the organization, the author attacks the Democratic Party's pro-Black policies and actions, which included a Democratic Vice President having a mixed-race spouse using question format. A broadside such as this, is an early example of a political attack advertisement which encouraged people to consider many things before choosing to support a political party or representative of a political party.

Martin Van Buren, the president mentioned in the broadside, was a running mate of and ideological successor to Andrew Jackson. Van Buren promised to support limited government and to leave the issue of slavery alone, positions which a challenged in the broadside. 

Broadsides were posters, announcing events or proclamations, or simply advertisements.
A catechism is a series of questions and answers used for instruction on a particular topic.

Citation: A Short Catechism on Negro Equality. Library of Virginia Manuscripts & Special Collections Broadside Collection 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA


Social Studies: VUS.6
Art: 4.1, 5.1, 4.18, 4.19, 5.18, 5.19

Suggested Questions

Preview Activity
Scan It: Scan the document. List words or phrases that stand out to ouy and explain why they stand out. 

Post Activities

Analyze: Why do you think the author wrote this broadside? What do you think the author hoped to accomplish?

Artistic Exploration: Create your own broadside for an issue you feel strongly about.

Another Perspective: How do you think Black Americans felt about a broadside like this one? Explain.