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    [Reconstruction]. 1876 South Carolina Election Day Archive comprised of fifty-one letters, telegrams, and reports spanning November 7 through November 23, 1876. Reconstruction of the rebellious Southern states, in the wake of the Civil War, was marked by military occupation, corrupt and oppressive Radical Republican leadership, violence, and intimidation. White southerners were frustrated with the passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, guaranteeing rights to a sizable (nearly 4 million) population of Freedmen in addition to restrictions placed on former Confederate soldiers (numbering some 150,000) barring them from voting or holding public office (Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3). With the passage of the Amnesty Act of 1872, however, the restrictions of Section 3 were lifted to all but 500-750 former Confederate officers and the political climate in the South began to intensify in the years leading up to the election of 1876. Tired of Republican rule, Southern Democrats were free again to vote and run for office.

    The months leading up to the election of 1876 were rife with tension. Violence was ever present and groups of armed men, calling themselves "rifle clubs," roamed the countryside. Supporters of the Democratic Party, they would often break up Republican meetings and intimidate Republican voters, both white and black. Black Republicans would often do the same toward black Democrats, Freedmen disillusioned with the corruption and broken promises of the Republican Party. Brevet Brigadier General Thomas H. Ruger, commander of the U. S. Army Department of the South, was tasked with assisting Governor Daniel Chamberlain and the United States Marshals in keeping the peace.

    The majority of the collection consists of report from various regiment commanders stationed around the state, but of special interest is a letter to General Ruger from former Confederate Colonel Alexander C. Haskell who, in 1876, had been elected chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee. He is writing on election day in protest of the proceedings and gives an excellent Southern perspective: Alexander C. Haskell ALS. Three pages, 8" x 10", Columbia [South Carolina], November 7, 1876, in part: "...the election is destroyed by intimidation and violence. Numbers of men (coloured) who went up to the Polls to vote the democratic Ticket were driven off by fear. And one who had courage enough to cast his vote was thrown down by the women who tore his clothes from his back." He continues by denouncing the government and the military for their seeming disinterest in the safety of the Democratic voters: "We could protect our rights even against the will of a false and treacherous Governor, but we have folded our arms in obedience to the Government and the military authorities of the United States. We have asked of the military authority its presence to protect us. This protection has not been granted us. The election is being conducted to the irreparable injury of the State and the sense of safety has been snatched from every coloured man who wishes to vote with the white people...I have the honour to submit this to your consideration and file it as a protest against the election as conducted under military supervision." At the end, he adds a postscript: "Colored men who went to the polls to vote the Democratic Ticket were seized, pulled back, overawed and made to vote the Republican ticket. Mr. Greener - colored - who is if I mistake not, U. S. Supervisor is one of the principal canvassers, and is putting the colored men in line to vote Rep. Ticket, thus violating the duties of his office and making the election a fraud. It is too late now to interfere except to conserve the peace as nearly all our voters have been forced and persuaded by improper means to vote on the other side."

    The tension did not end on election day, but continued for several days after as this report indicates: H. C. Cook Fair Copy of a Report, seven integral pages, November 10, 1876, of action during in Greenville, South Carolina. All was well until the arrest of Carson White, a Republican of whom Cook, captain of the U. S. 2nd Infantry Regiment, states: "...[they] arrested Carson White whom I cannot find comitted [sic] any offence." Following the arrest and his subsequent release, the tension rises until "...pistols - Clubs - Knifes [sic] &c were drawn and ...Chief Deputy U. S. Marshal Mr. Scruggs demanded that order be restored." Order is restored before the U. S. troops Cook has sent for arrive.

    Under the watchful eyes of U. S. troops, who had been placed at various polls throughout the state, Election Day came and went with little event, as this archive will illustrate. With the election of Rutherford B. Hayes as president, Reconstruction came to an end. Shortly after assuming office, Hayes pulled all remaining U. S. troops out of the state capitals of South Carolina and Louisiana, the last two reconstruction states, and returned home rule to both. With the ending of military occupation, Wade Hampton was declared governor and Daniel Chamberlain fled north to New York City. This archive is a treasure trove of information from a little known episode toward the end of Reconstruction in the South.


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    Additional items include:

     

    James R. Reilly Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Sumter, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    George L. Turner Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Carmel Hill, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876. He reports that the election passed peaceably enough, but a warrant was served upon a Deputy U. S. Marshal for trying to ".rescue a prisoner from the hands of a state constable."

    Cass Durham Fair Copy of a Report, November 11, 1876, concerning the happenings in Edgefield, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    James B. Fry Fair Copy of a Telegram, November 11, 1876, to Thomas H. Ruger informing him that his ".orders for movements of troops.agrees with the Commanding General's." With a Thomas H. Ruger ANS on the verso.

    M. Crawford Fair Copy of a Report, November 12, 1876, concerning the happenings in Lancaster and Waxhaw, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    William V. Wolfe Fair Copy of a Report, November 14, 1876, concerning the happenings in Easley Station, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    A. C. M. Pennington Fair Copy of a Report, November 23, 1876, concerning the happenings in Marion, Berry's Crossroads, and Little Rock, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    Edward Davis Fair Copy of a Report, November 10, 1876, concerning the happenings in Gordonsville, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    Jacob Kline Fair Copy of a Report, November 10, 1876, forwarding reports from Captains William Falck, William Haskin, Charles Keller, 1st Lieutenant James Miller, and 2nd Lieutenant D. H. Floyd.

    William L. Haskin Fair Copy of a Report, November 10, 1876, concerning the happenings in Liberty Hill, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    G. N. Bomford Fair Copy of a Report, November 10, 1876, concerning the happenings in Cainhoy, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    W. A. Miller Fair Copy of a Report, November 10, 1876, concerning the happenings in Clinton, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    James Stewart Fair Copy of a Report, November 10, 1876, concerning the happenings in Laurensville, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    L. L. Livingston Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Camden and Red Hill, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    Samuel S. Elder Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Bennettsville, Red Bluff, and Brownsville, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    Charles Harkins Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Silverton, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876. He reports that on the train from Augusta, Georgia to Silverton, ".there were about Fifty young men from Augusta going.'to help to redeem the State' they were regularly organized and seemed to be under the command of a man named Dunn, the majority of them were armed with revolvers." He states that there was no incident and his men were not needed during the election, but served as guards for the transportation of the ballot box for Aiken.

    H. G. Sitchfield Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Winnsboro and Ridgeway, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    James Bohan Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Fort Mill, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    A. G. Verplank Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Midway, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    Loomis L. Langdon Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings at Barnwell Court House, Barnwell County, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    J. B. Eaton Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Buford's Bridge, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    William B. Wheeler Fair Copy of an Report, November 8, 1876, to G. N. Bomford regarding the movement of troops and happenings at "Muster House," South Carolina on Election Day, 1876.

    James Stewart Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, concerning the happenings in Laurensville, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    Frank O. Briggs Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, concerning the happenings in Seneca City, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    Charles Narey Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, concerning the happenings in Rich Hill, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    H. H. Benner Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, concerning the happenings in Columbia, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    Clarence Deems Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, concerning the happenings in Darlington, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876. He states that a number of arms were placed in the County Jail.

    R. Lodor Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, concerning the happenings in Timmonsville, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    A. M. Randol Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, concerning the happenings in Edgefield, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    William S. Patten Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, concerning the happenings in Newberry, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    John Brannan Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, concerning the happenings in Edgefield, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    G. N. Bomford Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, concerning the happenings in Cainhoy, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    C. R. Paul Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Abbeville, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    D. H. Floyd Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Leesville, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    Charles Keller Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Richardsonville, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    James Miller Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Ridge Spring, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    Robert F. Bates Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, transmitting the reports of Lieutenants Todd and Patten regarding Election Day, 1876.

    J. H. Todd Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, concerning the happenings in Prosperity, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    R. Lodor Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, concerning the happenings in Timmonsville, South Carolina during Election Day, 1876.

    Copy of an Endorsement, November 20, 1876, by H. C. Danes ".calling for report of action taken on election day November 7, 1876."

    C. H Cabaniss Jr. Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, regarding the movement and actions of a detachment of 12 men from Co. "D" 18th Infantry to Rock Hill, South Carolina for the 1876 election.

    Jacob Kline Fair Copy of a Report, November 7, 1876, regarding the happenings in Edgefield, South Carolina during the 1876 election.

    Charles B. Hinton Fair Copy of a Report, November 7, 1876, regarding the happenings in Chester, South Carolina during the 1876 election.

    George S. Hoyt Fair Copy of a Report, November8, 1876, regarding the happenings in Edgefield, South Carolina for the 1876 election.

    E. R. Kellogg Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, regarding the happenings in Edgefield, South Carolina for the 1876 election.

    Robert F. Bates Fair Copy of a Report, November 8, 1876, regarding the happenings in Newberry, South Carolina for the 1876 election.

    Frank H. Barnhart Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, to Captain Thomas J. Lloyd regarding the happenings at "Calhoun's Mills," South Carolina for the 1876 election. He relates the tale of an assault on the Deputy U. S. Marshal by ".a party of Georgians.and I have no doubt but for my presence at the time the Marshal would have lost his life."

    Thomas J. Lloyd Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, regarding the happenings in Abbeville County, South Carolina for the 1876 election.

    C. S. Best Fair Copy of a Report, November 9, 1876, regarding the happenings in Blackville, South Carolina for the 1876 election.



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