By Robert Goldman
"A unfastened poll and a good count number" examines the efforts via the dep. of Justice to enforce the federal laws glided by Congress in 1870-71 often called the Enforcement Acts. those legislation have been designed to implement the balloting rights promises for African-Americans lower than the lately ratified 15th modification. The Enforcement Acts set forth various federally enforceable crimes geared toward struggling with white southerners' makes an attempt to disclaim or limit black suffrage. There are numerous facets of this paintings that distinguish it from different, prior works during this region. opposite to older interpretative reports, Goldman's fundamental thesis is that, the federal government's makes an attempt to guard black vote casting rights within the South didn't stop with the ideal Court's opposed rulings in U.S. v. Reese and U.S. v. Cruikshank in 1875. Nor, it truly is argued, did enforcement efforts stop on the finish of Reconstruction and the so-called Compromise of 1877. relatively, federal enforcement efforts after 1877 mirrored the ongoing dedication of Republican social gathering leaders, for either humanitarian and partisan purposes, to what got here to be referred to as "the loose poll and a good count." one other detailed element of this publication is its concentrate on the position of the federal division of Justice and its officers within the South within the endured enforcement attempt. Created as a cabinet-level govt division in 1870, the Justice division proved ill-equipped to reply to the common criminal and extra-legal resistance to black suffrage by way of white southern Democrats within the years in the course of and after Reconstruction. the dept confronted numerous inner difficulties equivalent to inadequate assets, terrible communications, and native team of workers usually appointed extra for his or her political acceptability than their prosecutorial or felony talents. by means of the early Eighteen Nineties, while the election legislation have been ultimately repealed through Congress, enforcement efforts have been sporadic at top and mostly unsuccessful. the top of federal involvement, coupled with the wave of southern country structure revisions, led to the disfranchisement of nearly all of African-American citizens within the South by way of the start of the 20th Century. it is going to now not be till the Sixties and the "Second Reconstruction" that the government, and the Justice division, could once more try and make sure the "free poll and a good count".
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Extra resources for A free ballot and a fair count: the Department of Justice and the enforcement of voting rights in the South, 1877-1893
5. For acomplete discussion of these cases, see chap. 5 below. 6. Stanley Hirshson, Farewell to the Bloody Shirt: NorthernRepzrblicans and theNegro, 2877-2893 (Chicago,1968); and Vincent P. DeSantis, Republicans Face theSouthernQuestion:The New Departure Years, 1877-1897 (Baltimore, 1959). 7. Homer Cummingsand Carl McFarland, Federal Justice: Chaptersin the History ofJzrstice and the Federal Executive (New York, 1937), 231. This Page Intentionally Left Blank “A FREEBALLOTAND A FAIRCOUNT” This Page Intentionally Left Blank 1 The Constitutional and Political Background of Fifteenth Amendment Rights Enforcement THE ENFORCEMENT of voting rights in the South by the Department of Justice after 1877 took place within a constitutional, political, and administrative framework, the outlines of which had begun taking shape before the last federal troops were withdrawn from the South.
This explanation is not especially persuasive. However, see note 31 below. 28. S. Reese, 217. 29. , 217-19. 30. , 220-23. 31. , 220. According to Waite’s biographer, C. Peter Magrath, the chief justice had originally intended to write the decisions in the Reese and Cruikshank cases when he thought they would be decided on constitutional grounds. ” Clifford’s draft opinions were rejected bythe Court. ”ThereuponWaite took back the cases and beganpreparing opinions deciding Reese and Cruikshank essentially on constitutionnl grounds” (emphasis mine).
The legislationwas the result of the efforts of a joint House-Senate Conference Committee formed after various proposalsforFifteenthAmendmentenforcementlegislationby each house were rejected in the other chamber over a period of four months. ”18 The act itself contained twenty-three sections. ” Thiswas the closest Congress got at the time to a direct and positive affirmationof the rightsof blacks to vote. The next several sections provided penalties, including fines and prison sentences, for anyone convicted of preventing or attempting to prevent any citizen from exercising his voting privilege, or attempting to perform any of the prerequisites to the right to vote such as registering.
A free ballot and a fair count: the Department of Justice and the enforcement of voting rights in the South, 1877-1893 by Robert Goldman