1876, Rutherford B. Hayes v. Samuel Tilden: Controversy Over Election Returns In This Election – Guest Essayist: Professor Forrest Nabors

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Not long after the Civil War began, the poet Julia Ward Howe witnessed a procession of Union troops near Washington, D.C. Later that night, words stirred her from her sleep; she arose and caught them on paper. The lines of the Battle Hymn of the Republic that Howe penned that night alerted the hearer that God’s retributive justice had awakened, as Jefferson predicted (“his justice cannot sleep forever”), and at that moment, was moving upon the earth.

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1876, Rutherford B. Hayes Defeats Samuel Tilden: The End of Reconstruction – Guest Essayist: Professor Forrest Nabors

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We remember 1865 as the year when our Civil War ended. But by another measure, the standard of von Clausewitz, that war is politics continued by other means, the political conflict that erupted into formal war did not end until after Rutherford B. Hayes was sworn in as president in 1877. The period known as Reconstruction after the war continued that political conflict and was also violent, though the combatants were paramilitaries and its wars were not wars of maneuver with grand armies.

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1872, Civil Service Reform – Guest Essayist: Professor Forrest Nabors

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The regular appearance of remarks on financial corruption in the proceedings of Congress in the Nineteenth Century might seem to indicate that American Government always was susceptible to the highest bidder. Rather, these comments are markers of Americans’ strong dislike and fear of corruption than they are proof that financial corruption was in fact eating the roots of their republicanism. The Americans had good reason to regard financial corruption in their government as an unmitigated evil, and so they loudly denounced it when they espied it, and publicly shamed, if not impeached, corrupt politicians upon discovery.

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1872, Ulysses S. Grant Defeats Horace Greeley: The Continuing Controversies Over Reconstruction – Guest Essayist: Professor Forrest Nabors

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The old bromide that politics makes strange bedfellows was never truer than during Reconstruction, from 1865-1877, a period of profound political chaos. Coalitions unexpectedly broke apart and unexpected coalitions formed. And never did America experience a presidential election that was more strange than the presidential election of 1872. The deep cause of this chaos was that the entire American political regime was undergoing change.

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1868, Constitutional Issues Surrounding Black Suffrage – Guest Essayist: Professor Forrest Nabors

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How should we understand the laggard steps of the United States towards the legal enforcement of equal civil and political rights for black Americans? A prevailing sense among Americans today is that the end of legal discrimination was the result of historical evolution. That is, beginning from a morally retrograde starting point, the nation grew and gradually shed its impure prejudices. Partial victories opened new opportunities for more victories, until this evolution culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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1868, Ulysses S. Grant Defeats Horatio Seymour: Reconstruction And The Constitution – Guest Essayist: Professor Forrest Nabors

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Fearless and firm under fire, unflaggingly modest despite reverent acclaim, and always practical – these outstanding qualities of Ulysses S. Grant are acknowledged, whether begrudgingly or enthusiastically, by the many critics of his presidency as well as by his defenders. Grant was quintessentially American, and yet as a leader he proved that his particular mixture of quintessentially American qualities represented the best of us, which might explain why his soldiers trusted him, the northern people adored him and the southern people respected him.

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