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A History of the United States by Cecil Chesterton

The professional politicians of the North


sides appealed to Grant, who had been elected President on the expiration of Johnson's term in 1868.

Had he been still the Grant of Appomattox and of the healing message to which reference has already been made, no man would have been better fitted to mediate between the sections and to cover with his protection those who had surrendered to his sword. But Grant was now a mere tool in the hands of the Republican politicians, and those politicians were determined that the atrocious system should be maintained. They had not even the excuse of fanaticism. Stevens was dead; he had lived just long enough to see his policy established, not long enough to see it imperilled. Sumner still lived, but he had quarrelled with Grant and lost much of his influence. The men who surrounded the President cared little enough for the Negro. Their resolution to support African rule in the South depended merely upon the calculation that so long as it endured the reign of the Republican party and consequently their own professional interests were safe. A special Act of Congress was passed to put down the Ku-Klux-Klan, and the victorious army of the Union was again sent South to carry it into execution. But this time it found an enemy more invulnerable than Lee had been--invulnerable because invisible. The whole white population was in the conspiracy and kept its secrets. The army met with no overt resistance with which it could deal, but the silent terrorism went on.

The trade of "Carpet-bagger" became too dangerous. The ambitious Negro was made to feel that the price to be paid for his privileges was a high one. Silently State after State was wrested from Negro rule.

Later the Ku-Klux-Klan--for such is ever the peril of Secret Societies and the great argument against them when not demanded by imperative necessity--began to abuse its power. Reputable people dropped out of it, and traitors were found in its ranks. About 1872 it disappeared. But its work was done. In the great majority of the Southern States the voting power of the Negro was practically eliminated. Negroid Governments survived in three only--South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. For these the end came four years later.

The professional politicians of the North, whose motive for supporting the indefensible _regime_ established by the Reconstruction Act has already been noted, used, of course, the "atrocities" of the Ku-Klux-Klan as electioneering material in the North. "Waving the bloody shirt," it was called. But the North was getting tired of it, and was beginning to see that the condition of things in the conquered States was a national disgrace. A Democratic House of Representatives had been chosen, and it looked as if the Democrats would carry the next Presidential election. In fact they did carry it. But fraudulent returns were sent in by the three remaining Negro Governments, and these gave the Republicans a majority of one in the Electoral College. A Commission of Enquiry was demanded and appointed, but it was packed by the Republicans and showed itself as little scrupulous as the scoundrels who administered the "reconstructed" States. Affecting a sudden zeal for State Rights, it declared itself incompetent to inquire into the circumstances under which the returns were made. It accepted them on the word of the State authorities and declared Hayes, the Republican candidate, elected.

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