17 thoughts on “The 1876 Presidential Election

  1. wgdavis October 29, 2012 / 4:24 pm

    Hayes, to carry on Lincoln and Grant’s policies as much as possible.

    However, Walker is such a fascinating personage…

  2. Louis Burklow October 29, 2012 / 5:10 pm

    I voted for Hayes but this is one of those lesser of two evils choices. Both major-party nominees seem to be upstanding men but it was still too soon after Appomattox to vote Democratic. Still, Hayes is the president who left freedmen to their fate in the South. Tough choice.

  3. Al Mackey October 29, 2012 / 8:17 pm

    With all our present-day votes time traveled back to the actual election, we change history and there doesn’t have to be a Compromise of 1877.

  4. SF Walker October 29, 2012 / 10:50 pm

    Unfortunately, Reconstruction was going to be abandoned regardless of which major party won this election–with or without the Compromise of 1877. Therefore, my vote is for economic damage control, which means Peter Cooper of the Greenback Party—to alleviate the depression caused by the Panic of 1873. Something had to be done to stimulate commerce and to help farmers and wage-earners.

    Due to a number of factors, the South sadly was able to win through terrorism and Northern apathy and weariness what it had lost on the battlefield. If anyone had a right to be angry about Reconstruction, it was the Union veterans and the civil rights advocates—not the ex-Confederates and today’s Lost Causers.

    • Noma October 30, 2012 / 11:11 am

      “Due to a number of factors, the South sadly was able to win through terrorism and Northern apathy and weariness what it had lost on the battlefield.” Heartbreaking, but true.

      • SF Walker October 31, 2012 / 4:38 am

        The Civil War politically restored the Union and answered the question of whether states could unilaterally secede–in this, at least, the Union prevailed. It was probably the only immediate outcome of the war on a national scale.

        By the time the blacks were truly guaranteed what should have been provided by the “Civil War amendments,” the generation that fought the war had passed on. This always enters my mind on the topic of Reconstruction.

    • Lyle Smith November 1, 2012 / 6:50 am

      The South didn’t win though. The war was fought over slavery, and slavery was vanquished. The Civil War wasn’t really about white supremacy.

      Most northerners were also not apathetic about the violent white supremacy in the South, because they were ardent white supremacists too.

      • Noma November 1, 2012 / 2:05 pm

        It’s very interesting, because probably a great many northerners, as well as southerners believed in white supremacy. Nevertheless, it was only the Confederacy who explicitly articulated white supremacy as the “cornerstone” foundation of its new republic — as you probably know:


        “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics.”

        Alexander Stephens – Vice President of the Confederate States of America


        So, at least for the Confederacy, I think we have to agree that White Supremacy was what its leaders were fighting for. At least that is what they said.


        • Lyle Smith November 1, 2012 / 9:56 pm

          Slavery was white supremacist for sure, but it was the institution of slavery that was the cornerstone of the Confederacy.

      • SF Walker November 1, 2012 / 3:15 pm

        Indeed, the war was fought over slavery and that institution was destroyed. But after Reconstruction, when the South re-established home rule, the blacks were allowed to be returned to a condition that was very much like slavery.

        It’s true that neither Northerners nor Southerners believed in equality for the blacks, on the whole—it’s one of the reasons why this part of Reconstruction failed. However, I agree with Noma that the Confederacy alone was based on white supremacy–as he noted, Stephens’ Cornerstone speech lays it out for all to see.

        To me the Civil War was a war of American unification and a war for and against slavery. Of course abolition and equality were two different things.

        • Lyle Smith November 1, 2012 / 10:04 pm

          Reconstruction white supremacy and Jim Crow was something less than slavery. It approached slavery, but wasn’t slavery.

          The South didn’t secede over white supremacy, they seceded over slavery. Slavery was white supremacist, but without the economics of slavery secession becomes implausible.

      • Lyle Smith November 1, 2012 / 10:05 pm

        I should have written.. Plenty of Northerners instead of Most Northerners. That seems fairer.

  5. pat young October 31, 2012 / 7:10 pm

    Peter cooper was my homie from Hempstead. Brilliant engineer, philanthropist, and promoter of higher education for the working class and women. Better by far than the other hacks and bigots running.

    • SF Walker November 1, 2012 / 3:32 pm

      Cooper is a very interesting fellow. He built a good steam locomotive of his own design using spare parts; this helped the B & O Railroad to become the successful enterprise that it was.

      He was an engineer who was also successful in business, as well as being a dedicated philanthropist—a rare combination indeed.

  6. rcocean November 1, 2012 / 7:13 pm

    The North faced a tough choice in 1876-1877, keep troops in the deep South indefinitely to protect Black voting rights or let Blacks hoe their own row. After a bloody civil war and 8 years of Reconstruction I don’t blame the North for just getting tired and moving on.

    • SF Walker November 2, 2012 / 6:46 am

      That’s pretty much what happened. Of course the US Army was drastically downsized after the war, too. By the fall of 1865 there were only about 150,000 Federal troops trying to garrison the whole South. By the fall of 1866, that number had shrunk to fewer than 40,000. When Hayes was elected in ’76, the number of troops remaining was so small that removing them from the South was little more than a goodwill gesture.

      I don’t think the occupation force was ever large enough to do its job during Reconstruction. As usual for this period in history, peacetime meant a small budget to fund the Army. All this can be combined with prevailing public opinion in the North to explain the final outcome.

  7. SF Walker November 2, 2012 / 7:19 am

    I have a personal anecdote to share while we’re on the subject of Jim Crow and Reconstruction. In 1977 my family moved to Hemingway, South Carolina and lived there for a few years. This is a very small town in rural Williamsburg County.

    Soon after moving in, we decided to hire a maid to help with the housework once a week. My parents knew one of the locals (I’ll call him Mr. Doe here) whose family had been there since before the Civil War. Mr. Doe recommended Ethel, a woman who, as it turned out, lived in a small house on his property.

    When my parents went to see Ethel for the first time, my mother asked about her family. Ethel casually responded ” oh, we’re all Mr. Doe’s people.” Since I was a kid at the time, I don’t know the exact conversation—but according to my mother, Ethel revealed that she and her family had worked for Mr. Doe for generations and that the Does basically took care of all of them. It was no big deal for these folks; this was all they had ever known. Needless to say, my parents were astonished…

    I know this may be off the subject here, but I just thought it was something you all might find it interesting—as one of the legacies of the antebellum and postwar South.

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