Autobiography of Seventy Years - Vol. 1

By George F. Hoar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI
ELECTORAL COMMISSION

WHEN the Presidential election of 1876 was over both sides claimed the victory. When the certificates of the result in the different States reached the President of the Senate, in accordance with the requirement of the Constitution and the law, it turned out that there was one majority for Hayes and Wheeler, upon the face of the returns, if the returns from the State of Oregon were construed in accordance with the Republican claim.

The Governor of Oregon gave a transcript of the record and declared his opinion that it showed one of the lawful electors to have voted for Mr. Tilden. That would have given one majority for Tilden. The Republicans claimed that upon the record the election showed that all the Republican candidates for elector had been chosen in Oregon, and that they had all voted for Hayes and Wheeler.

The Democrats declared that the boards authorized to ascertain and return the result of the election for Presidential electors in South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana had corruptly and unlawfully rejected votes that ought to be counted for them, and counted votes for the Republicans that ought not to be so counted; and had in that way changed the result which, if it had been correctly ascertained and reported, would have shown a Democratic majority in those three States.

The country was deeply excited. Threats of civil war were heard in many quarters. When I went to Washington for the session of December, 1876, while I did not believe there would be a civil war, and supposed there would be some method of escape devised, I confess I saw no such method. I now believe that but for the bitter experience of a few years before, with its terrible lesson, there would

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