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By Robert Goldman

"A loose poll and a good count number" examines the efforts by way of the dept 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 below the lately ratified 15th modification. The Enforcement Acts set forth a number federally enforceable crimes aimed toward fighting white southerners' makes an attempt to disclaim or limit black suffrage. There are numerous points of this paintings that distinguish it from different, past works during this sector. opposite to older interpretative stories, Goldman's basic thesis is that, the federal government's makes an attempt to guard black vote casting rights within the South didn't stop with the excellent Court's adverse 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 continuing dedication of Republican social gathering leaders, for either humanitarian and partisan purposes, to what got here to be referred to as "the unfastened poll and a good count." one other targeted element of this booklet is its specialise in the function of the federal division of Justice and its officers within the South within the endured enforcement attempt. Created as a cabinet-level government division in 1870, the Justice division proved ill-equipped to answer the frequent criminal and extra-legal resistance to black suffrage via white southern Democrats within the years in the course of and after Reconstruction. the dept confronted numerous inner difficulties resembling inadequate assets, terrible communications, and native group of workers frequently appointed extra for his or her political acceptability than their prosecutorial or criminal talents. by way of the early Nineties, while the election legislation have been eventually repealed by way of Congress, enforcement efforts have been sporadic at top and principally unsuccessful. the tip of federal involvement, coupled with the wave of southern country structure revisions, led to the disfranchisement of nearly all of African-American electorate within the South via the start of the 20th Century. it'll no longer be till the Nineteen 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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Additional info for A free ballot and a fair count: the Department of Justice and the enforcement of voting rights in the South, 1877-1893

Example text

And even more critical to the amendment’s of suchlegislation. effectiveness would betheenforcement Hence,while the Fifteenth Amendmentdid represent an attempt at achieving the Radical goal of black suffrage, it also 8 ”A FREE BALLOT AND A FAIR COUNT” left open the possibilityof the ultimate frustrationof that goalif ”appropriate” legislation was not provided or enforced. The importance of additional legislation was understood by Republicans, and followingtheratification of theFifteenth Amendment in1870, Congress passed a series of three acts commonly known as the Enforcement Acts.

V. Cruikskank, 542. Cummingsand McFarland, Federal Justice, 24446; Warren, Supreme Court, 6034; Magrath, Waite, pp. Thecase reached the Supreme Court, JusticeJoseph P. S. v. Hall, voting to sustain them. (Fairman, 1378-79) 34. Magrath, Waite, 124. Field’s arguments on the role of the courts and the war amendments would become more frequent as the years progressed. ” (Magrath, 124) 35. S. 559. 36. S. 554-55. 37. S. 556-59. Both Warren and Magrath discuss the public reaction tothe two decisions, reaction thatwas generally favorable, evenamongnorthern Republicans.

11. John and LaWandaCox,”NegroSuffrage and Republican Politics: The Problem of Motivation in Reconstruction Historiography,’’ Journal of Southern History, 33 (August 1967): 303-30. The Coxes’ work must be read in light of recent “revisionist” writingsonthe Reconstruction period. An important element in this revisionist writing has been the favorable reevaluation of the Radical Republicans. Once thought to benarrowly partisan and vindictive in their attitudes and actions toward the South and the post-War problemsof the freedman, the Radicals are now viewed as rather idealistic and honestly committed toensuring the civil and political equality of the freedman.

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