By Robert Goldman
"A unfastened poll and a good count number" examines the efforts by way of 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 vote casting rights promises for African-Americans less than the lately ratified 15th modification. The Enforcement Acts set forth more than a few federally enforceable crimes geared toward scuffling with white southerners' makes an attempt to disclaim or limit black suffrage. There are numerous facets of this paintings that distinguish it from different, previous works during this quarter. opposite to older interpretative stories, Goldman's basic thesis is that, the federal government's makes an attempt to guard black balloting 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 known as "the loose poll and a good count." one other certain element of this publication is its specialize in the function of the federal division of Justice and its officers within the South within the persisted enforcement attempt. Created as a cabinet-level government division in 1870, the Justice division proved ill-equipped to answer the frequent felony and extra-legal resistance to black suffrage by means of white southern Democrats within the years in the course of and after Reconstruction. the dept confronted quite a few inner difficulties equivalent to inadequate assets, bad communications, and native team of workers frequently appointed extra for his or her political acceptability than their prosecutorial or criminal abilities. by way of the early Eighteen Nineties, whilst the election legislation have been ultimately repealed by means of Congress, enforcement efforts have been sporadic at top and mostly unsuccessful.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 the majority of African-American electorate within the South by means of the start of the 20 th Century. it should no longer be until eventually 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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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
30 In light of the contemporary and historical view of the Reese decision as a landmark case in the repudiation of the promises of civil and political equality inherent in the three Reconstructionamendments,severalaspects of theopinion should be noted. TheSupremeCourttookfifteen months to strike down two sections of an act that contained twenty-three sections. And, in effect, the Court rejected these two sections becauseof a technicality in the wording of the sections, that is, that the crimes specified were not based on discrimination on account of race.
George S. David Donald, Charles Sunzner and the Rights of Man (New York, 1970), 352-54. Inthis, both the Coxes and Gillette appear toagree:the Fifteenth Amendment’sprimary concern wasnorthern blacks. According to Gillette, there was little conflict over the ratification of the amendment in the southern states. ” (104) While it is hard to fault the evidence Gillette uses tosupport his contentions,several things might be pointed out with respect to this argument and later enforcement of voting rights in the South.
By the terms of that act, Wirt now argued, theduties of his office were quite specific and definite. To be instrumental inenlarging the sphereof . . official duties beyond that which is prescribed by law, would, in my opinion, be a violation of this oath [of office].
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