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When the people rise the system gets cleansed… Samuel J. Tilden

Fraud of the century : Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the stolen election of 1876  Roy Morris, Jr.  New York : Simon & Schuster, c 2003  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 311 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 287-296) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

A large campaign chart features the portraits of Democratic presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden and running mate Thomas A. Hendricks and smaller medallion portraits. The candidates are shown in roundel bust portraits in decorative frames. Surrounding Tilden are laurel leaves, and surrounding Hendricks are oak leaves, traditional symbol of the Democrats. Below is a shield emblazoned with stars and stripes. The leaves join and encircle a small medallion portrait of George Washington. Above is a bald eagle holding arrows and olive branches and flanked by six American flags. Bust portraits of U.S. Presidents from George Washington to Ulysses S. Grant form an arc about the central vignette. Colored rays of light emanate from behind the eagle. The text below the image provides a wealth of information, including a list of previous U.S. Presidents, election results from 1796 to 1872, the electoral vote, the Democratic platform in 1876, short biographies of Tilden and Hendricks, a chart of popular votes in 1864, 1868, and 1868, and the population of the United States in 1870.

A large campaign chart features the portraits of Democratic presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden and running mate Thomas A. Hendricks and smaller medallion portraits. The candidates are shown in roundel bust portraits in decorative frames. Surrounding Tilden are laurel leaves, and surrounding Hendricks are oak leaves, traditional symbol of the Democrats. Below is a shield emblazoned with stars and stripes. The leaves join and encircle a small medallion portrait of George Washington. Above is a bald eagle holding arrows and olive branches and flanked by six American flags. Bust portraits of U.S. Presidents from George Washington to Ulysses S. Grant form an arc about the central vignette. Colored rays of light emanate from behind the eagle. The text below the image provides a wealth of information, including a list of previous U.S. Presidents, election results from 1796 to 1872, the electoral vote, the Democratic platform in 1876, short biographies of Tilden and Hendricks, a chart of popular votes in 1864, 1868, and 1868, and the population of the United States in 1870.

The bitter 1876 contest between Ohio Republican governor Rutherford B. Hayes and New York Democratic governor Samuel J. Tilden is the most sensational, ethically sordid, and legally questionable presidential election in American history. The first since Lincoln’s in 1860 in which the Democrats had a real chance of recapturing the White House, the election was in some ways the last battle of the Civil War, as the two parties fought to preserve or overturn what had been decided by armies just eleven years earlier.

Print showing bust portraits of eight men, identified as, clockwise from top, Oliver P. Morton, James A. Garfield, George F. Hoar, William Strong, Joseph P. Bradley, Samuel F. Miller, George F. Edmunds, and Frederick T. Frelinghuysen; also a group of four men identified as the "Louisiana Returning Board", from left, Kenner, Casenave, Anderson, and Wells. Includes text of four quotes regarding election fraud, such as this by Messrs. Clifford, Field, Bayard, Abbott, Hunton, Thurman & Payne, "We can prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Louisiana and Florida voted for Tilden by decisive majorities, and we are prepared to show up the villainous frauds of the Returning Boards. All we ask is investigation by this commission" and this by U.S. Grant, "No man worthy of the office of President should be willing to hold it if counted in, or placed there, by any fraud. Either party can afford to be disappointed in the result, but the country cannot afford to have the result tainted by the suspicion of illegal, or false returns." In the 1876 presidential election, the election returns in four states were disputed; the final tally of votes showed Democratic candidate Samuel Tilden with approximately 250,000 more popular votes than Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes, though Hayes ended up with one more electoral vote than Tilden. On March 2, 1877, Congress met in a joint session and declared Hayes and Wheeler president and vice-president.

Print showing bust portraits of eight men, identified as, clockwise from top, Oliver P. Morton, James A. Garfield, George F. Hoar, William Strong, Joseph P. Bradley, Samuel F. Miller, George F. Edmunds, and Frederick T. Frelinghuysen; also a group of four men identified as the “Louisiana Returning Board”, from left, Kenner, Casenave, Anderson, and Wells. Includes text of four quotes regarding election fraud, such as this by Messrs. Clifford, Field, Bayard, Abbott, Hunton, Thurman & Payne, “We can prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Louisiana and Florida voted for Tilden by decisive majorities, and we are prepared to show up the villainous frauds of the Returning Boards. All we ask is investigation by this commission” and this by U.S. Grant, “No man worthy of the office of President should be willing to hold it if counted in, or placed there, by any fraud. Either party can afford to be disappointed in the result, but the country cannot afford to have the result tainted by the suspicion of illegal, or false returns.” In the 1876 presidential election, the election returns in four states were disputed; the final tally of votes showed Democratic candidate Samuel Tilden with approximately 250,000 more popular votes than Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes, though Hayes ended up with one more electoral vote than Tilden. On March 2, 1877, Congress met in a joint session and declared Hayes and Wheeler president and vice-president.

Riding a wave of popular revulsion at the numerous scandals of the Grant administration and a sluggish economy, Tilden received some 260,000 more votes than his opponent. But contested returns in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina ultimately led to Hayes’s being declared the winner by a specially created, Republican-dominated Electoral Commission after four tense months of political intrigue and threats of violence. President Grant took the threats seriously: he ordered armed federal troops into the streets of Washington to keep the peace.

A crude comic send-up of 1876 Republican campaign strategy. Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden and an unidentified man stand fishing on the left bank of a river, their basket overflowing with their catch. On the opposite bank stand Rutherford B. Hayes and Republican incumbent Ulysses S. Grant, obviously less successful. Grant advises Hayes, "I guess that reform bait won't work this side. Better try an anti-Catholic worm." Since both the Democratic and Republican platforms in 1876 stressed reform, Hayes's campaign sought to stir up anti-Catholic prejudice against Tilden.

A crude comic send-up of 1876 Republican campaign strategy. Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden and an unidentified man stand fishing on the left bank of a river, their basket overflowing with their catch. On the opposite bank stand Rutherford B. Hayes and Republican incumbent Ulysses S. Grant, obviously less successful. Grant advises Hayes, “I guess that reform bait won’t work this side. Better try an anti-Catholic worm.” Since both the Democratic and Republican platforms in 1876 stressed reform, Hayes’s campaign sought to stir up anti-Catholic prejudice against Tilden.

Morris brings to life all the colorful personalities and high drama of this most remarkable – and largely forgotten – election. He presents vivid portraits of the bachelor lawyer Tilden, a wealthy New York sophisticate whose passion for clean government propelled him to the very brink of the presidency, and of Hayes, a family man whose midwestern simplicity masked a cunning political mind. We travel to Philadelphia, where the Centennial Exhibition celebrated America’s industrial might and democratic ideals, and to the nation’s heartland, where Republicans waged a cynical but effective “bloody shirt” campaign to tar the Democrats, once again, as the party of disunion and rebellion.

Honest Sam. Tilden, Campaign Song and Chorus

Honest Sam. Tilden, Campaign Song and Chorus – Backbone! He has so much of it, it makes him stick out in front!

Morris dramatically recreates the suspenseful events of election night, when both candidates went to bed believing Tilden had won, and a one-legged former Union army general, “Devil Dan” Sickles, stumped into Republican headquarters and hastily improvised a devious plan to subvert the election in the three disputed southern states. We watch Hayes outmaneuver the curiously passive Tilden and his supporters in the days following the election, and witness the late-night backroom maneuvering of party leaders in the nation’s capital, where democracy itself was ultimately subverted and the will of the people thwarted.

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