|An editorial cartoon shows Democrat Samuel Tilden crying when Republican Rutherford B. Hayes takes away is hobby horse--The Presidency.|
Don’t you just love stories about f*cked up U.S. Presidential elections? As we have seen in previous posts, there have been plenty of them. None are more embarrassing than when the winner of the popular vote somehow doesn’t end up with his feet up on a desk in the White House. It has happened more often than you probably suspect. Four times in fact. Five for those who believe Richard J. Daley stole more votes for John F. Kennedy in Chicago than Republican bosses stole downstate.
In 1824 John Quincy Adams lost the popular vote to Andrew Jackson by a slim 44,804 votes nationwide but won when the election was thrown into the House of Representatives and a third candidate, Henry Clay swung his votes to Adams. Then Adams then appointed Clay Secretary of State. This pissed off Jackson who raged against a corrupt bargain and went on to create the modern Democratic Party to whip the New Englander’s ass in the next election.
In 1888 Benjamin Harrison deprived Grover Cleveland of a second consecutive term despite losing by 95,713 votes. Four years later the Democrat was back in office, the only man ever to serve two non-consecutive terms.
But until George W. Bush, those hanging chads, and a stupefying corrupt decision of the Supreme Court, the most famous minority president was Rutherford B. Hayes.
On March 2, 1876 Hayes became the first person selected for the Presidency by a Bi-Partisan Commission.
Hayes won the Republican nomination only after the leading candidate James G. Blaine failed in six ballots to win the majority of delegates at the party convention. A bland non-entity picked because “he offended no one,” Hayes went into the election an underdog to Democrat Samuel Tilden.
And indeed Tilden carried the popular vote by a not insignificant 250,000 vote lead out of 8.5 million ballots cast. Other presidents were elected by more slender margins. But in the Electoral College, Tilden came up just one vote shy with the results from four states—Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oregon were contested.
If the electoral votes of the three states from the old Confederacy were counted for the Democrats, Tilden would be an easy victor. Fearing civil unrest if the election was determined by the Republican controlled House of Representatives, Congress decided to appoint a bi-partisan commission to decide the contested electoral votes.
The commission was to be composed of 7 Republican, 7 Democrats and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the supposedly independent David Davis in whom both parties had confidence. But before the Commission could act, Davis resigned his seat on the Court and on the Convention to take a Senate seat from Illinois. Another Justice, a Republican, replaced him on the Commission. The Commission then voted along party lines 8-7 to award all of the disputed electoral votes to Hayes.
Senator James Garfield and Southern Democrats, however, worked out an agreement to prevent trouble. Hayes would withdraw the last Federal troops from the South, end Reconstruction, and appoint at least one Southerner to his Cabinet. By prematurely ending protection for black voters and office holders in the South, this bargain ushered in the era of Jim Crow, rigid segregation, and disenfranchisement of freed Blacks.
The deal embittered Democrats, especially northerners and the evolving big city, working class machine voters who understandably called the new president His Fraudulency.