A free ballot and a fair count: the Department of Justice by Robert Goldman

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 referred to as 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 quite a number federally enforceable crimes aimed toward fighting white southerners' makes an attempt to disclaim or limit black suffrage. There are a number of points of this paintings that distinguish it from different, past works during this zone. opposite to older interpretative reports, 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 superb 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 specific element of this e-book 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 reply to the common felony and extra-legal resistance to black suffrage through white southern Democrats within the years in the course of and after Reconstruction. the dept confronted various inner difficulties equivalent to inadequate assets, terrible communications, and native body of workers usually appointed extra for his or her political acceptability than their prosecutorial or felony abilities. via the early Eighteen Nineties, whilst the election legislation have been eventually repealed through Congress, enforcement efforts have been sporadic at top and principally unsuccessful. the tip of federal involvement, coupled with the wave of southern kingdom structure revisions, ended in the disfranchisement of the majority of African-American citizens within the South by means of the start of the 20 th Century. it should now not be till the Nineteen Sixties and the "Second Reconstruction" that the government, and the Justice division, may once more try and make sure the "free poll and a good count".

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Additional resources for A free ballot and a fair count: the Department of Justice and the enforcement of voting rights in the South, 1877-1893

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The first incumbent to makea significant contribution to the development of the attorney general’s officewas William Wirt, who, like Randolph, was from Virginia. Wirt was appointed attorney general in October of 1817by President James Monroe. ” There was no office staffto assist the attorney general, no system THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BEFORE 1877 29 of record keeping, and no provision for the preservation of letters and documents. Therewas nothing, in fact, to tell Wirt how past attorneys generalhad performed their duties, or to aid him in guiding future office holders in their activities.

Hunt accurately pointed out that the purpose of the entire Enforcement Act being considered was to protect blacks against violations of their right to vote,and that thispurpose was clearly set forth in the first two sections of the act, sections the Court chose to ignore. Hunt further noted that while sections 3 and 4 did not mention race, the crimes listed referred directly back to similar crimes listed in the firsttwo sections, which were in fact based on discrimination on accountof race. Yet, as one historian has stated, ”Despite the forceof .

Hall. However, in the Hall decision Woods used the ”privileges and immunities” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and not the Fifteenth Amendment, in upholding the convictionof a group of white Alabamians accused of breaking up a political rallyof blacks. 24 of theFourteenthAmend- . Between1871 and 1875 numerous cases involving the Enforcement Acts were brought in the federalincourt the %tit;h4 In fact, ”the very extent of the litigation under the enfor&ff@nt actssoonovertaxedthecapacity of the twenty-btir district of these courts” in that section.

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