By Robert Goldman
"A loose poll and a good count number" examines the efforts by means of the dept 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 lower than the lately ratified 15th modification. The Enforcement Acts set forth a number federally enforceable crimes aimed toward struggling with white southerners' makes an attempt to disclaim or limit black suffrage. There are a number of features of this paintings that distinguish it from different, prior works during this quarter. 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 preferrred 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. fairly, federal enforcement efforts after 1877 mirrored the ongoing dedication of Republican get together leaders, for either humanitarian and partisan purposes, to what got here to be known as "the loose poll and a good count." one other exact point of this booklet is its specialise in 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 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 quite a few inner difficulties similar to inadequate assets, terrible communications, and native body of workers usually appointed extra for his or her political acceptability than their prosecutorial or felony talents. by way of the early Eighteen Nineties, whilst the election legislation have been eventually repealed by means of Congress, enforcement efforts have been sporadic at most sensible and principally unsuccessful.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 kingdom structure revisions, led to the disfranchisement of nearly all of African-American citizens within the South through the start of the 20th Century. it's going to no longer be until eventually the Nineteen 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
21 The final sectionsof the actdealt with a number of other possible methods of vote fraud and voter discrimination, such as impersonation of another person in voting or registering to vote, irregularities in the countingof ballots, and irregularities in the final certification of ballots by election officials. Except for candidates for presidential elector, Congress, or the state legisla- THE FIFTEENTH AMENDMENT 11 ture, any persondeprived of his office because of the denial to any citizen or citizens of the right to vote on account of race could bring suit to recover possessionof that office in either the state or federal courts.
Yet, in the last three decades of the nineteenth century such disfranchisement was not inevitable. Effective enforcement of constitutionally and politically supported voting rights might have precluded this process. In this sense, the ”free ballot and a fair count” between 1877 and 1893had its own strange career. NOTES 1. Rayford Logan, The Betrayal of the Negro (New York, 1954), chap. 5. 2. C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow,3d ed. (New York, 1975), 32-33. 3. For discussion on the background and passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, see William Gillette, The Right to Vote: Politics and the Passage ofthe Fifteenth Amendment(Baltimore, 1969),and chap.
The first and third ”prongs” took issue with the constitutionality of the entire Enforcement Act and with the right of Congress, through the Fifteenth Amendment, toregulate state elections. Both of these broad constitutional arguments were not used at all by Waite. The ”prong” that was incorporated into Waite’s opinion THE FIFTEENTH AMENDMENT 23 was the second, which contended that the two sections were too general and were not limited to actions based on racial discrimination. This was the narrowest argument presented, and further shows the limited character of the Reese decision.
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