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By Robert Goldman

"A loose 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 below the lately ratified 15th modification. The Enforcement Acts set forth various federally enforceable crimes aimed 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 region. 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 excellent Court's antagonistic 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. really, federal enforcement efforts after 1877 mirrored the continuing dedication of Republican celebration leaders, for either humanitarian and partisan purposes, to what got here to be known as "the loose poll and a good count." one other detailed point of this ebook 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 govt division in 1870, the Justice division proved ill-equipped to answer the frequent criminal 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 team of workers frequently appointed extra for his or her political acceptability than their prosecutorial or felony talents. through the early Eighteen Nineties, while the election legislation have been ultimately repealed by way of Congress, enforcement efforts have been sporadic at most sensible and principally unsuccessful. the tip of federal involvement, coupled with the wave of southern kingdom structure revisions, ended in the disfranchisement of nearly all of African-American electorate within the South via the start of the 20 th Century. it's going to no longer be till the Nineteen Sixties and the "Second Reconstruction" that the government, and the Justice division, might 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

Sample text

The next several sections provided penalties, including fines and prison sentences, for anyone convicted of preventing or attempting to prevent any citizen from exercising his voting privilege, or attempting to perform any of the prerequisites to the right to vote such as registering. Included in the categories of those subject to penalties were any election officers or officials 10 ”A FREE BALLOT AND A FAIR COUNT” who might ”wrongfully refuse or omit to receive, count, certify, register, report or give effect to the vote” of any citizen lawfully entitled to the elective franchise?

It important is to note, however, that in this legislation the attorney general was not givenany sort of control over the district attorneys and marshals. 4 President George Washingtonappointed Edmund Randolph 28 ”A FREE BALLOT AND A FAIR COUNT” of Virginia as the first attorney general. As attorney general, Randolph had absolutely no staff to assist him and received a salary of only fifteen hundred dollars, which hehad to supplement with continued private legal practice inorder to earn a living.

Both Warren and Magrath discuss the public reaction tothe two decisions, reaction thatwas generally favorable, evenamongnorthern Republicans. ”’(130)Both authors attribute the favorable response tothe decisions to agrowing weariness with the southern race question and with the increasing desire on the part of northerners, especially Republicans, to facilitate reconciliation between the sections following the horrors of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Neitherauthor acknowledges the possibility that the mild responsemight also have beendue to the realization that the decisions in and of themselves did not mean the total repudiation of the federal government’s commitment to the protection of black vot- 24 ”A FREE BALLOT AND A FAIR COUNT” ing rights in the South.

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