By Robert Goldman
"A unfastened poll and a good count number" examines the efforts through the dept 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 vote casting rights promises for African-Americans lower than the lately ratified 15th modification. The Enforcement Acts set forth a number of federally enforceable crimes geared toward struggling with white southerners' makes an attempt to disclaim or limit black suffrage. There are a number of elements of this paintings that distinguish it from different, previous works during this sector. opposite to older interpretative stories, Goldman's fundamental thesis is that, the federal government's makes an attempt to guard black balloting rights within the South didn't stop with the ultimate Court's adversarial 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. relatively, federal enforcement efforts after 1877 mirrored the continuing dedication of Republican celebration leaders, for either humanitarian and partisan purposes, to what got here to be known as "the loose poll and a good count." one other exact element of this publication is its specialise in the position of the federal division of Justice and its officers within the South within the endured enforcement attempt. Created as a cabinet-level govt division in 1870, the Justice division proved ill-equipped to reply to the common criminal and extra-legal resistance to black suffrage via white southern Democrats within the years in the course of and after Reconstruction. the dep. confronted numerous inner difficulties resembling inadequate assets, terrible communications, and native body of workers frequently appointed extra for his or her political acceptability than their prosecutorial or felony abilities. via the early Eighteen Nineties, whilst the election legislation have been eventually repealed by way of Congress, enforcement efforts have been sporadic at most sensible and principally unsuccessful. the tip of federal involvement, coupled with the wave of southern nation structure revisions, ended in the disfranchisement of the majority of African-American electorate within the South by way of the start of the 20 th Century. it can no longer be until eventually the Sixties and the "Second Reconstruction" that the government, and the Justice division, could 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
Seealso Joseph B. , 1956). The most extensive analysis of the politics behind the passage of the second section can be found in W. W. Van Alstyne, ”The Fourteenth Amendment, the ‘Right’ to Vote, and the Understanding of the Thirty-Ninth Congress,’’ Supreme Court Alstyne, the section was passed Review (1965): 33-86. Van Alstyne agreed that the second sectionwas meantto insure continued Republican dominance in Congress, and that Republicans had ”considerable reason to suppose that it would succeed” in accomplishing this.
5; Everette Swinney, “Enforcing the Fifteenth Amendment, 1870-1877,” Journal of Southern History, 28 (May 1962): 202-4. 16. Albie Burke, “Federal Regulation of Congressional Electionsin Northern Cities, 1871-1894,” American Journal of Legal History, 14 (January 1970):17-34. 17. Allen Trelease, White Terror: The Kzr Klux KlanConspiracy and Southern Reconstruction (New York, 1971), 383. Section 6 of the May 1870 Enforcement Act had contained provision formaking it a felony of intimidation or for two or more persons to conspire to commit acts violence against black voters.
What is interesting, in light of the analysis presented above and of Hunt’s dissent, is that the Reese decision was not based on broad constitutional grounds, but on criminal statutory construction, and a strained one at that. The same is true for the Cruikshank decision, discussed below. Further evidence of the inconsistencies in Magrath’s analysis of the Reese decision appear in his discussion of the ”threepronged assault” on the act launched by the defendants’ attorneys in their briefs to the Court.