DURING the summer of 1875, while Bristow gathered his evidence against the whiskey corruptionists, preliminary manœuvres for the campaign of 1876 got under way. From the early summer until the campaign was launched men in both political camps, at home and in Congress, girded their loins to do battle for their parties. Every hopeful politician watched developments with an eye to capitalizing the sentiment of the moment and to divining the future.
In the fall of 1875, "off-year" elections were to be held in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, and all eyes were directed to them as omens for 1876. In Ohio the Democrats nominated the aged William Allen, and adopted a platform calling for inflation. Sound money men in the East were thoroughly alarmed, and rejoiced when the Republicans stood firmly for hard money and drafted for their candidate ex- Governor Rutherford B. Hayes, who had a consistent record as a reformer. In Pennsylvania, inflation was the major issue and conservatives feared that the western districts would carry the State for cheap currency. In New York, both Republicans and Democrats stood for reform, sound money, and against a third term.
With clocklike regularity, the Southern problems arose to harass the candidates. This time it was Mississippi where disorders were great enough to attract Northern attention. In 1874 there had been riots in Vicksburg before the elections, and after the campaign Grant had felt compelled to issue a proclamation ordering lawless mobs to disperse.1 Sheridan had included the White Leagues of Mississippi in his "banditti" dispatches, and Governor Ames had had difficulty in maintaining order. As the approach of another election brought its customary intimidation and acts of mob violence, Ames appealed to Grant for Federal troops.
Grant and the party had learned a lesson from the protests of the preceding January. Although Sheridan and Wheeler had brought peace to Louisiana, renewed interference in the South would have played into the bands of the Democrats. Personally Grant would have preferred____________________