The Negro and the Nation: A History of American Slavery and Enfranchisement

By George S. Merriam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXV
RECONSTRUCTION: THE LAST ACT

WE turn back to the course of national politics. The Republican triumph of 1872 was followed by an overwhelming reverse at the Congressional election of 1874. There was a growing impression of maladministration at Washington. The Credit Mobilier scandal--the easy acceptance by Congressmen of financial favors from the managers of the Union Pacific Railway, followed by disingenuous denials-- had especially discredited the party in power. There had been a great financial reverse in 1873, such as is always charged in the popular mind against the ruling powers. The South had increased its Democratic vote. So from various causes, in the new House the Republicans passed from a majority of one hundred to a minority of forty; with New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and even Massachusetts, in the Democratic column.

But the clique of bitter partisans and radicals, with whom President Grant had become closely associated, if they took warning from the election, drew the inference that they must make good use of the brief time left them in the final term of the old Congress. While the Louisiana imbroglio was still seething, the President sent a message, in February, 1875, recommending that the State government of Arkansas he declared illegal. It had held an unquestioned tenure for two years, and the proposal to oust it was simply in the interest of its two Senators, Powell Clayton and Stephen W. Dorsey, who belonged to the Grant faction. At the same time there was brought forward a comprehensive

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