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 balloting rights promises for African-Americans less than the lately ratified 15th modification. The Enforcement Acts set forth various federally enforceable crimes geared toward scuffling with white southerners' makes an attempt to disclaim or limit black suffrage. There are a number of facets of this paintings that distinguish it from different, previous works during this region. opposite to older interpretative experiences, 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 antagonistic rulings in U.S. v. Reese and U.S. v. Cruikshank in 1875. Nor, it's argued, did enforcement efforts stop on the finish of Reconstruction and the so-called Compromise of 1877. really, 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 loose poll and a good count." one other distinct point of this booklet is its specialise in the position of the federal division of Justice and its officers within the South within the persevered 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 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, negative communications, and native group of workers frequently appointed extra for his or her political acceptability than their prosecutorial or felony talents. through the early Nineties, whilst the election legislation have been eventually repealed by means of Congress, enforcement efforts have been sporadic at most sensible and mostly unsuccessful. the top of federal involvement, coupled with the wave of southern nation structure revisions, ended in the disfranchisement of nearly all of African-American electorate within the South by means of the start of the 20 th Century. it should no longer be till the Sixties and the "Second Reconstruction" that the government, and the Justice division, might once more try to make sure the "free poll and a good count".
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Extra info for A free ballot and a fair count: the Department of Justice and the enforcement of voting rights in the South, 1877-1893
Boutwell firmly believed that voting rights were necessary for the freedman in order for him to protect his other rights. He wrote, ”With the rightof voting, everythingthat a man ought to have or enjoy of civil rights comes to him. ” On the other hand, to argue that the amendment reflected only the highest idealismof the Republicans, as the Coxes suggest, is to ignore the simple factthat perhaps the most idealistic Radical Republicanof them all, Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, refused to support the amendment: rather than vote against it, he absented himself from every important vote on the measurein the Senate?
175. 14. 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.
Vann Woodward, ”Seedsof Failure in Radical Race Policy,”in American Counterpoint: SZavery and Racism in the North-South Dialogue (Boston, 1971),163-83. 2 “A Meet Person Learnedin the Law”:The Attorney General and the Justice Department before 1877 THERESPONSIBILITYfor enforcing the Fifteenth Amendment and the congressional legislation supplementing that amendment lay with the federal Department of Justice, officially organized 1870. Intheyearsfollowing asanexecutivedepartmentin Reconstruction, implementation of national policywith respect to the protectionof black political rights in the Southwas thus in thehands of an administrative agencythat was not only relatively new but for the most part decentralized in its organizational structureand bureaucratically unprepared to handleefficiently such an important and complex task.
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