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By Robert Goldman

"A loose poll and a good count number" examines the efforts by means of the dep. 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 vote casting rights promises for African-Americans less than the lately ratified 15th modification. The Enforcement Acts set forth a number federally enforceable crimes aimed toward fighting 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 experiences, Goldman's fundamental thesis is that, the federal government's makes an attempt to guard black balloting rights within the South didn't stop with the preferrred 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 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 special point of this e-book is its concentrate on the position 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 dep. confronted numerous inner difficulties akin to inadequate assets, bad communications, and native body of workers usually appointed extra for his or her political acceptability than their prosecutorial or felony abilities. by way of the early Eighteen Nineties, whilst the election legislation have been eventually repealed by means of Congress, enforcement efforts have been sporadic at most sensible and principally unsuccessful. the tip of federal involvement, coupled with the wave of southern country structure revisions, ended in the disfranchisement of nearly all of African-American electorate within the South through the start of the 20th Century. it can no longer be until eventually 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 resources for A free ballot and a fair count: the Department of Justice and the enforcement of voting rights in the South, 1877-1893

Example text

For Gillette, ”The Fifteenth Amendment was . . ’’ Like Porter, Gillette discovered evidence of partisan political motivation behind the adoption of the amendment. However, after studying the congressional debates relating to the amendment aswell as thelegislative and newspaper accounts of the ratification process in the states, Gillette concluded that the Fifteenth Amendment was primarily designed togainblackvotersintheNorthfortheRepublicanparty. ”lo The partisan political motivation of Republicans responsible for the Fifteenth Amendment was strongly challenged in1967 a essay by John and LaWanda Cox.

23 Though it was not until1875 that judicial cases dealingwith the constitutionalityof the Enforcement Acts reached the United States Supreme Court, in 1871 Circuit Court Judge William B. Woods of Alabama upheld a seriesof indictments under the acts in United States v. 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. As indicated above, the majority cases were part of the government’s attempt to combat the Ku Klux Klancampaign of terror and intimidation against southern blacks. Hall? By 1875 several cases dealing with the constitutionality of the Enforcement Actshad reached the Supreme Court.

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