- The art of the Con
Vs Hayes: A Government Swindle?
On occasion, elections have little to do with what happens
at the polling place or in the electoral college. Moreover, these occasions
are based on heavy duty political tampering along with the usual negotiations
and concessions. So it was with the American election of 1876, which pitted
Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden against his competitor, Rutherford B.
When the polls had closed, Tilden had most certainly won the
popular election and his substantive lead was reflected in the electoral college
as well, where he led by a supposedly overwhelming margin of 21 votes. However,
the college couldnâ€™t certify the election until they disposed of the minor problem
of duplicate delegates to the college from Florida, Oregon, Louisiana and South
Carolina. In each of these states both parities believed that they had won in
a close election and in order not to tempt the fates, two sets of voters was
sent from each state.
However, the three of the states (Florida, Louisiana
and South Carolina) gravitated to the Republican candidate as soon as proper
etiquette allowed. They did this by contesting a substantial enough number of
Democratic votes by whatever means were available to them, legal and otherwise.
This did not solve the problem at all, as in Oregon the Republican elector was
summarily replaced by the Democratic Governor. This caused a hailstorm as the
House of Representatives of Oregon was firmly on the Republican side and immediately
ordered a recount. This threw the Oregon portion of the Presidential election
into a cocked hat and the United States Congress was forced to step into the
Congress was at the top of their game and In their great wisdom,
an Electoral Commission was appointed having five representatives from the Senate,
five from the House and five from the Supreme Court. When the smoke had cleared,
there were seven Republican, seven Democrats and Supreme Court voter yet to
be named. Once again everyone had to take a breather but it was eventually determined
that the four already nominated Supreme Court electors would nominate the fifth.
The fifth Justice was a Republican who favored the Democrat, Tilden and one
would have thought that this ended the controversy. However, that also was not
to be the case. The Justice was strongly lobbied by the Republicans and stunningly
switched his vote at the last minute.
Naturally, this totally outraged the Democrats who thought
that they had by now won the election both in the popular vote and then again
in the electoral vote. They threatened to do everything at their command to
win the election including calling a strike of governments employees shutting
down the capital. This caused the Republicans to reflect on what could turn
out to be a pyrrhic victory. Negotiations were held and a compromise was reached
in which federal troops would be removed from the south in exchange for Hayesâ€™
selection. Neither man had been party to any of the goings on and the fate of
the United States President hung on in the balance while the politicians sorted
out the deal.