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End of Reconstruction


Frederick Douglass filled the position of U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia with credit, having previously served as secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission and as a member of the Territorial Council of the Federal District. Although Democratic newspapers raised a hue and cry concerning his appointment, the Senate nevertheless confirmed it.

Representative Thaddeus Stevens, the "Great Commoner," died in 1868. Senator Charles Sumner, author of the famed civil rights bill, dies in 1874. With these two champions of the rights of freedmen gone, there was no voice of power left in Congress to defend Negro rights. In March, 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio became the nineteenth President of the United States. A month after his inauguration he began the removal of federal troops from the South.

Behind the disputed Presidential election of 1876 were economic and political issues of far more importance than the question of who would sit in the White House. Hayes' opponent, the Democrat Samuel J. Tilden of New York, received the larger popular vote, but there were conflicting returns concerning twenty electoral votes from South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and Oregon. The Republican Party no longer cherished the idealistic war aims of freeing and protecting the Negro. It was now the party of the new industrialists and businessmen, open to urgings from compromisers that the Negro be abandoned to his former masters and that the South be given a share of the economic future so that the tariffs, subsidies and other special privileges enacted while the Republican Party was unchallenged in Congress would not be threatened.

A behind-the-scenes caucus between Hayes partisans and Southern Democrats eventually came to an agreement that is the vote swung to Hayes, federal troops would be withdrawn from the South, substantial subsidies for Southern internal improvements such as railroads would be appropriated and more federal jobs would go to Southerners. By a vote of eight to seven, the Commission awarded the election to Hayes. He promptly appointed a former Confederate general to his Cabinet as Postmaster General and moved to end military protection of Negro suffrage. On April 10, 1877, federal troops were withdrawn from South Carolina; on April 24 those stationed in New Orleans left and in 1878 an order was issued forbidding the use of government troops in elections.

By a combination of illegal terror and state laws limiting Negro suffrage, the Democratic Party returned to power below the Mason-Dixon line and the South again became the 'solid South."

[[image - black & white photograph of an unidentified man]]

[[image - drawing of Frederick Douglas receiving congratulations]]
[[caption]]Frederick Douglass being congratulated on his appointment as U.S. marshal of Washington, D.C.[[/caption]

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