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 balloting rights promises for African-Americans less than the lately ratified 15th modification. The Enforcement Acts set forth a variety of federally enforceable crimes geared toward fighting 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 sector. opposite to older interpretative experiences, 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 perfect Court's adverse 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 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 precise point of this booklet is its concentrate on the function of the federal division of Justice and its officers within the South within the persisted enforcement attempt. Created as a cabinet-level government division in 1870, the Justice division proved ill-equipped to reply to the common criminal and extra-legal resistance to black suffrage by way of white southern Democrats within the years in the course of and after Reconstruction. the dep. confronted quite a few inner difficulties corresponding to inadequate assets, negative communications, and native team of workers usually appointed extra for his or her political acceptability than their prosecutorial or criminal talents. by way of the early Nineties, while the election legislation have been ultimately repealed via Congress, enforcement efforts have been sporadic at most sensible and mostly unsuccessful. the tip of federal involvement, coupled with the wave of southern kingdom structure revisions, led to the disfranchisement of the majority of African-American citizens within the South through the start of the 20th Century. it will no longer be till the 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 info for A free ballot and a fair count: the Department of Justice and the enforcement of voting rights in the South, 1877-1893
The legislationwas the result of the efforts of a joint House-Senate Conference Committee formed after various proposalsforFifteenthAmendmentenforcementlegislationby each house were rejected in the other chamber over a period of four months. ”18 The act itself contained twenty-three sections. ” Thiswas the closest Congress got at the time to a direct and positive affirmationof the rightsof blacks to vote. 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.
11. John and LaWandaCox,”NegroSuffrage and Republican Politics: The Problem of Motivation in Reconstruction Historiography,’’ Journal of Southern History, 33 (August 1967): 303-30. The Coxes’ work must be read in light of recent “revisionist” writingsonthe Reconstruction period. An important element in this revisionist writing has been the favorable reevaluation of the Radical Republicans. Once thought to benarrowly partisan and vindictive in their attitudes and actions toward the South and the post-War problemsof the freedman, the Radicals are now viewed as rather idealistic and honestly committed toensuring the civil and political equality of the freedman.
Effectiveness would betheenforcement Hence,while the Fifteenth Amendmentdid represent an attempt at achieving the Radical goal of black suffrage, it also 8 ”A FREE BALLOT AND A FAIR COUNT” left open the possibilityof the ultimate frustrationof that goalif ”appropriate” legislation was not provided or enforced. The importance of additional legislation was understood by Republicans, and followingtheratification of theFifteenth Amendment in1870, Congress passed a series of three acts commonly known as the Enforcement Acts.
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