In 1876 the country was 100 years old; the Civil War culminated 11 years earlier; President Grant decided not to run for a third term; and two rather boring guys, Rutherford Hayes, Republican (Party of Lincoln), Governor of Ohio and former Union Civil War General ran against Samuel Tilden, Democrat, wealthy, corruption-fighting Governor of New York.
The nation was deeply divided. The Civil War was over but much of the South resented Reconstruction and the rights awarded to blacks. On November 7, 1876, 82% of eligible voters cast a ballot. In the popular vote, Tilden received 254,000 more votes than Hayes of the 8.3M votes cast. Tilden earned 184 of the necessary 185 Electoral College votes needed to win. Close but not a winner yet.
The election was contested in four states, Oregon, South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. Hayes needed all four to win. Both sides accused the other of destroying ballots, using force and intimidation to prevent black voting in the three Southern states. The governor of Oregon disallowed one member of the electoral college and replaced him with a supporter from his side. State legislatures differed from their governors by sending different electoral returns to Congress.
In January 1877, Congress appointed a fifteen-member election commission to decide the election. Eight Republicans and seven Democrats. Guess what? Yup, they ruled the election for Hayes.
Now it really gets fun. The inauguration is not until March. The Democrats are telling Tilden to go to Washington to take the oath of office effectively setting up two governments. Democratic newspapers are calling on people to travel to Washington to take the capital by force. Republicans are threating to restart the Civil War. Business leaders are saying they don’t care who wins. Just get a winner.
In February, representatives from both sides gathered for a secret meeting at the Wormley Hotel (owned by the richest black man in Washington DC) to consummate one of the biggest “back-room deals” of all time. Democrats agreed to concede the Presidency to Hayes in return for the withdrawal of all Federal troops from the South and money to rebuild infrastructure destroyed in the war. With troops gone, the national government could not intervene in the affairs of Southern states. This allowed states to institute policies of racial segregation and suppression of black voters.
Moral of this story. We will survive this election just like the nation got past that one. Both sides today are passionate and attempting to use fear as a tool to mobilize members of their own “tribe” / party to prevent the “evil empire” from ruining the country.
I would encourage all of you to be part of the solution…..not the problem. Follow the example of the two gubernatorial candidates from Utah. Watch the video below. We all have the right to disagree, discuss the issues, cast our ballots and when they are counted, move on to work together in order to make the country better. Thank you.
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Candidates for Governor show the way:
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CBS Sunday Morning – election 1876:
Investment Advisor Representative and Registered Representative of, and Securities and Investment advisory services offered through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (member SIPC)
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author, and the information should not be construed as individual investment advice, or as the opinion(s) of Voya Financial Advisors. CN1383637_1022