Thursday, October 9, 2008

The election that wasn't... least "wasn't" for Texas. Did you know that Texas was not allowed to vote in the 1868 presidential election, having not been readmitted to the Union after secession during the Civil War? Apparently this first Reconstruction election was somewhat contentious...

What a different 140 years makes!

In 1868, as it would be for the next several elections, the main issue was the Civil War and its aftermath. In the years before this election, President Andrew Johnson drew the wrath of the Radical Republican Congress in his attempts to bring the rebellious southern states back into the Union fold as quickly and as painlessly as possible. His political opponents felt that the South should be punished for their actions. The President and Congress clashed often. Johnson vetoed 28 bills during his tenure; Congress was able to override a record 15 of them (in contrast, FDR vetoed 635 bills; only 9 were overridden). Early in 1868, after Johnson ignored a law Congress had passed over his veto that would have required him to get Congressional consent before removing his Secretary of War, the House of Representatives impeached the President. He was aquitted in a Senate trial by only one vote. The Radical Republicans were able to set up a legislative agenda that, among other things, stripped the state governments of the southern states and replaced them with military districts, disenfranchised most white citizens who had supported the Confederacy, and gave thousands of former slaves the right to vote. For a while, blacks in the south with the right to vote actually outnumbered whites allowed to vote there. A fringe benefit (if not the main purpose) of these objectives gave Republicans a major stronghold in the South that would take years to erode. (

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