Columbus, December 7, 1876. - The Electoral College of Ohio
met yesterday. Mr. Perry presided. A unanimous vote for
Hayes and Wheeler. All passed off pleasantly. During the day,
I received dispatches from Pennsylvania, Illinois, and South
Carolina, showing that in these States the colleges voted for
Hayes and Wheeler. In the evening, Platt, Laura, Emily, and
Fanny came in with General Mitchell, Dr. Fullerton, and Ruddy
Platt, and later Mr. John W. Andrews and Mrs. Andrews, and
Miss Grayson. We received dispatches during the evening from
all of the Republican States except Florida, Iowa, Nebraska,
Colorado, and Oregon.
We all felt doubts about Oregon. The vote of the State was
indisputably Republican by eleven hundred majority and over.
But one of the Republican electors, it has been charged, is in-
eligible, being a postmaster. The Democratic governor heard
argument on his right to refuse to give him a certificate. All this
we knew. It led me to think there was a probability that the
governor would commission the highest Democrat on the de-
feated ticket and thus give Tilden the one hundred and eight-five
votes required to elect. We retired after our visitors left, having
had a lively, happy little gathering, but with this doubt and
solicitude about Oregon on our minds.
This morning Isaiah, our colored man, when he came in to
build the fire, laid the State Journal on our bed. He lighted the
gas and I read the telegraphic accounts, showing how Governor
Grover of Oregon had refused to commission Watts, the Repub-
lican elector, an ex-postmaster, and had given the certificate of
election to Cronin, the highest Democratic elector, and how he,
Cronin, had met as the college and elected two Republicans to
fill the two vacancies created by the refusal of the Republicans,
two of whom were commissioned, to act or meet with him; and
how this college met and cast two votes for Hayes and Wheeler
and one for Tilden and Hendricks, thus giving in the nation to
Hayes and Wheeler one hundred and eighty-four electoral votes
and to Tilden and Hendricks one hundred and eighty-five votes,
and in this way electing the latter President and Vice-President.
The two regularly commissioned Republican electors met;
Watts, the postmaster resigned, was re-elected, and this college
gave Hayes and Wheeler the three votes of Oregon, making their
aggregate one hundred and eighty-five, and thus electing them,
if this vote is treated as the true one.
Here is the danger. A contest ruinous to the country, danger-
ous, perhaps fatal to free government may grow out of it. I
would gladly give up all claim to the place, if this would avert
the evil without bringing on us a greater calamity. I am de-
termined that no selfish ambition or interest shall influence my
conduct in the face of these tremendous events. Whatever, on
the whole, is best for the country, that I will do if I can know it,
regardless of consequences to myself. I shall keep cool, master
all tendencies that may lead me astray, and endeavor to act as
Washington would have acted under similar circumstances.
My wife feels some disappointment, is unhappy on account
of the consequences of our defeat to the poor colored people of
the South, but on personal grounds is contented, and will without
effort show her usual cheerfulness. We shall both bear this new
responsibility with composure. Our friends will suffer more
than we shall, whatever the suspense or the final result.
COLUMBUS, OHIO, January 2, 1877.
MY DEAR SIR: -I am greatly obliged for your full letter. It
is all interesting.
The questions in my thought, when I wrote you, were such
as may arise, after the count is declared in favor of the Republi-
can candidates, between them and the Democrats who are also
sworn into office. Such as quo warrantos, etc., etc.; efforts to
get or keep possession of the government offices and property,
and the like. In short, the questions Tilden can make, claiming
to be de jure President and the Republican de facto.
On the Louisiana vote our equitable right to the State is in-
disputable. I will send you in a day or two Redfield's letter.
If we go back of the Returning Board, why not go into the
merits? How would Louisiana have voted if the election had
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE S. SHELLABARGER.
Columbus, January 5, 1877. - My advices are that the result
of the action of the Senate will depend on the report the com-
mittee of the Senate makes on the election in Louisiana. This
seems not to be in much doubt, but there is enough to leave me
in a state of suspense. I must, therefore, prepare for either
event. The Cabinet is the chief work. Next the inaugural. As
to the address, I wish to repeat my Letter of Acceptance (1) on
currency and national faith, (2) on civil service reform, (3)
on the South. I must urge a liberal policy towards the South
especially in affording facilities for education and encouraging
business and emigration [immigration(?)] by internal improve-
ments of a national character.
Friday, January 26, 1877. - The compromise bill for counting
the Presidential vote passed the Senate by forty-seven to seven-
teen. More Republicans supported it than voted against it. The
Democrats all voted aye except Eaton, of Connecticut. Its pas-
sage by a like majority in the House is probable. What Con-
gress and the popular sentiment approve is rarely defeated by
reason of constitutional objections. I trust the measure will turn
out well. It is a great relief to me. Defeat in this way, after a
full and public hearing before this Commission, is not mortifying
in any degree, and success will be in all respects more satis-
I have not tried to influence the opinions or actions of anybody
on the bill. Before another Presidential election, this whole sub-
ject of the Presidential election ought to be thoroughly considered,
and a radical change made. It is probable that no wise measure
can be devised which does not require an amendment of the
Constitution. Let proposed amendments be maturely considered.
Something ought to be done immediately.
COLUMBUS, OHIO, January 26, 1877.
MY DEAR JUDGE: - I am obliged for your valued letter. The
bill in relation to the election will become a law. Of course, with
so strong a vote in its favor, the President will promptly sign it.
I have not attempted to influence the result, and shall not. If
the principles of Mr. Frelinghuysen's speech are adopted by the
Commission, our success is almost certain. I take it our friends
will see that we are ably and wisely represented both on and
before the Commission. This is the next point of interest.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE A. TAFT,
COLUMBUS, OHIO, February 1, 1877.
MY DEAR SIR: - I have your letter. The appointment of Gen-
eral Wikoff [as pension agent] is well received. It was the
best possible solution of the difficulty.
I am sure that our friends have done well thus far in the
election contest. No doubt, all will be done that can be. Per-
haps it would be well to show the equity of our claim to Louis-
iana by a presentation of the figures in 1874 and 1876. The
Democrats, by reason of five of our electors being left off in
some parishes, show on the face of the returns a larger majority
than they are equitably entitled to. The true test is the highest
candidates for elector. This shows, according to the Democratic
count on the face of the returns, six thousand five hundred ma-
jority for Tilden. They constantly state it at eight thousand or
ten thousand. But all this you understand, and how the violence
gained them over eight thousand five hundred votes in the five
well-known parishes alone, whereas the Republicans gained in
the rest of the State a few votes, even if we say nothing of our
losses in other sections.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE JOHN SHERMAN.
February 25. - Yesterday the Commission decided Oregon to
be for Hayes and Wheeler. This is the last of the disputed and
doubtful States. The only apparent chance of defeating us now
is the revolutionary conduct of the Democrats in the House. The
Southern members of that party, who have hitherto been con-
servative and favorable, are disturbed by an article in the Ohio
State Journal unfriendly to them, which is charged to have been
inspired by me. The truth is I stand on my Letter. If I speak
at Fremont or elsewhere during the next few days, I may say:
"My Letter [of Acceptance in July last] expressed what I
thought were just sentiments on the leading questions which then
interested the country. I thought its doctrines were sound be-
fore the election. I think they are sound now that the election
is over. And if the issue pending in Congress shall be decided
in our favor, those principles will be the standard by which my
official conduct shall be guided. If I were to write that letter
now, I would give that part on the Southern question greater
emphasis. The great body of the people of this country earn-
estly desire a wise and just settlement of that question. They
want peace, they long for repose.
"What is required is: First, that for the protection and welfare
of the colored people, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth
Amendments shall be sacredly observed and faithfully enforced
according to their true intent and meaning.
"Second, We all see that the tremendous revolution which
has passed over the Southern people has left them impoverished
and prostrate, and we all are deeply solicitous to do what may
constitutionally be done to make them again prosperous and
happy. They need economy, honesty, and intelligence in their
local governments. They need to have such a policy adopted as
will cause sectionalism to disappear, and that will tend to wipe
out the color line. They need to have encouraged immigration,
education, and every description of legitimate business and in-
dustry. We do not want a united North nor a united South. We
want a united country. And if the great trust shall devolve upon
me, I fervently pray that the Divine Being, who holds the des-
tinies of the nations in His hands, will give me wisdom to per-
form its duties so as to promote the truest and best interests
of the whole country."*
*No occasion presented itself for the delivery of such a speech.
March 16, 1877. - Stanley Matthews was yesterday night
nominated for Senator at Columbus. This is an endorsement
of the policy of peace and home rule- of local self-government.
A number of Southern Republican members are reported ready
to go over to the Democrats. On the other hand, the bar of this
District [of Columbia] are in a state of mind because Fred
Douglass, the most distinguished and able colored man in the
Nation, has been nominated marshal for the District. If a liberal
policy towards late Rebels is adopted, the ultra Republicans are
opposed to it; if the colored people are honored, the extremists
of the other wing cry out against it. I suspect I am right in both
Different plans for Louisiana and South Carolina are offered:-
1. A new election.
2. Lawful action of Legislatures.
3. Acknowledge Packard and Chamberlain, and leave them to
their own state remedies.
4. Withdraw troops and leave events to take care of them-
Here I am too crowded with business to give thought to these
questions. Let me get a few outside opinions; Judge Dickson.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, May 26, 1877.
MY DEAR SIR:-I have read the partial report of the com-
mission appointed to examine the New York custom house. I
concur with the commission in their recommendations. It is my
wish that the collection of the revenues should be free from
partisan control, and organized on a strictly business basis, with
the same guaranties for efficiency and fidelity in the selection of
the chief and subordinate officers that would be required by a
prudent merchant. Party leaders should have no more influence
in appointments than other equally respectable citizens. No
assessments for political purposes, on officers or subordinates,
should be allowed. No useless officer or employe should be re-
tained. No officer should be required or permitted to take part
in the management of political organizations, caucuses, conven-
tions, or election campaigns. Their right to vote, and to express
their views on public questions, either orally or through the press,
is not denied, provided it does not interfere with the discharge of
their official duties.
R. B. HAYES.
HONORABLE JOHN SHERMAN,
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, June 22, 1877.
SIR:--I desire to call your attention to the following para-
graph in a letter addressed by me to the Secretary of the Treas-
ury, on the conduct to be observed by officers of the general
Government in relation to the elections:
"No officer should be required or permitted to take part in
the management of political organizations, caucuses, conventions,
or election campaigns. Their right to vote and to express their
views on public questions, either orally or through the press, is
not denied, provided it does not interfere with the discharge of
their official duties. No assessment for political purposes, on
officers or subordinates, should be allowed."
This rule is applicable to every department of the civil service.
It should be understood by every officer of the general Govern-
ment that he is expected to conform his conduct to its require-
ments. Very respectfully,
R. B. HAYES.
December 18, 1877. --I go to New York to attend the Union
League reception, Friday evening, and the New England dinner,
There is much said as to plans for harmonizing the friends
and opponents of the Administration. It is desirable, certainly,
that more friends should be found among Republican Congress-
men. Why is not the best basis for harmony the Cincinnati
platform? If differences exist as to its meaning, consult the
Letter of Acceptance and the state platforms after the nomina-
tion and before the election.
June 2, 1878.--The election investigation began yesterday
with calling as a witness the scamp Anderson. He testified that
a letter was given to himself and Webber, election officers in
the Felicianas, by Sherman to induce them to aid in fraud in
regard to the election. He produced a copy, as he said, of the
letter. It is not a letter which sustains the charge even if
genuine. He also testified that he called on me soon after I
was inaugurated and got from me an endorsement to Secretary
Evarts to give him a consulship in a warm climate.
The facts are, so far as I am concerned: He came to me
one of the throng of office-seekers early in my term. He had a
strong recommendation from a trustworthy citizen of Steuben-
ville, Ohio, name not now recollected, and testimonials from
Senators Matthews and Kellogg and Representatives Leonard,
Darral, [and] Nash. Nothing was said which led me to sus-
pect that he had been guilty of any crookedness, or that any
promises had been made to him in my name or otherwise. The
facts stated were that he had been an active Republican at the
risk of his life in Louisiana and that, on account of his activity
as a Republican, he had been driven from his home and business
and could not safely return. He appeared intelligent and cap-
able. He represented that his wife's health required him to go to
a mild climate. Our interview lasted only a few minutes. I
thereupon gave him a recommendation referred to. Afterwards,
and after a small consulship had been found for him, I learned
from an anonymous letter signed "Bulldozer," and from a note
from J. A. Straight, facts that made me suspect him. I also
learned from Senator Matthews facts that induced the belief
that he was trying to levy blackmail. I then directed that noth-
ing should be done for him until his character was investigated.
The result was that no office was given to him. My note as to
his character is on file in the State Deparment with other papers.
The files show clearly the action by me and the reasons for it.
As to the alleged frauds and perjury of Anderson with refer-
ence to the election in Feliciana, I never heard of it until long
after his papers were sent to the Secretary of State.
When Anderson was recommended by me for a place in a
warm climate there was nothing before me against him, and
much in his favor, but after I heard the facts against him, I
was satisfied we had no place as warm as he deserved, and so
he got nothing! Hence this trouble with us now!
Anderson says he told me that the Feliciana business was
"a cheat." If so it was on one of the occasions when he was
under the influence of liquor and excited. I gave him no serious
attention and got rid of him as soon as possible. I certainly
never promised him office and never intended to give him office
after I had been informed of his true character and conduct.
He could have been appointed if it had been deemed proper,
and he was not appointed on account of the information re-
ceived about him.
March 9, 1879. - The Forty-fifth Congress adjourned without
making provision for the support of the army, and for the pay-
ment of the civil list. I therefore immediately called a special
session of the Forty-sixth Congress to meet the 18th--two
weeks after the adjournment of the Forty-fifth Congress. The
appropriation bills were defeated by a disagreement between the
House and Senate. The House insisted on the right to force
its views on several questions of general legislation upon the
Senate by the threat of defeating appropriations if the Senate
did not yield. The Senate adhered to its own views. Hence no
appropriations for the purposes named. Now the question
will come to me.
The Senate and House in the Forty-sixth Congress being both
Democratic will insist on the right to repeal the election laws,
and, in case of my refusal, will put the repeal on the appropriation
bills. They will stop the wheels- block the wheels of govern-
ment, if I do not yield my convictions in favor of the election
laws. It will be a severe, perhaps a long contest. I do not fear
it. I do not even dread it. The people will not allow this revolu-
tionary course to triumph.
See Thurman in Record, March 8, p. 13. Quote in reply to
this Jackson's claim to represent the Nation.
March 21, 1879.--Yesterday was Webb's birthday. He is
twenty-three years old. Without the scholarship I wish he had,
he is yet a boy to be content with. He is honest, cheerful, very
sensible, and full of social and friendly qualities, with good habits
My war horse, old "Whitey," died yesterday at Fremont.
Two dispatches were received telling the fact. Little Fanny in
the presence of strangers spoke lightly of it, but she had a good
cry over it alone.
We had General Garfield and Mr. Hiscock, of the House, with
Dr. Waddell and Miss Devens at dinner last evening. The talk
was very interesting -- chiefly on the political situation.
The threatened deadlock on the appropriation bills is main-
tained, but the manner in which Democrats will present it is
not yet known to the Republicans. Perhaps it is not yet decided
how to do it. Many of our Senators are in favor of vetoing all
bills repealing either the discretionary test oath, the right to
preserve peace at [the] polls, and [or] the election laws. My in-
clination is to approve the first two measures, if presented to me
separately, and I shall certainly veto any repeal of the election
laws which does not substitute equally efficient measures in their
But it is conjectured that these measures will be presented
to me as riders to different appropriation bills. Suppose this is
done, how shall I treat the appropriation bills which contain the
repeals which I would approve if they were separate bills? Is
not this a sound view? The repeal, for example, of the dis-
cretionary test oath is attached to an appropriation bill as a
measure of coercion. I will not consider the merits of the bill
so presented. The appropriation bill is essential to the con-
tinuance of the Government. It is perfectly well known that the
Executive approves it. It is the duty of Congress to pass it.
The rider is attached to it to get rid of the constitutional exercise
of the veto power to defeat that measure in case the President
does not approve it. This is the first attempt in our history to
break down the functions of the Executive by coercion. I
cannot approve it.
March 22, 1879. - The Democratic members of the two houses
of Congress have held caucuses and appointed committees to
decide the course they will take as to the measures which caused
the deadlock between the House and Senate, at the end of the last
session. It now seems probable that they will put all of their
repealing measures into one bill; a bill which will repeal the
jurors' oaths, the law authorizing soldiers to keep the peace at
the polls, and the law which provides for the appointment of
deputy marshals to protect the polls. If presented to me, I
should probably feel it to be my duty to veto such a bill.
The law as to the appointment of marshals to protect the
supervisors and [to] prevent violence and fraud may require
extensive modifications. But that there should be such officers
- officers as impartial as possible - is almost a necessity. Do
not the States provide some such machinery for state elections?
Is mere supervision enough? Do not the States provide for
keeping the peace at the polls at state elections? Should not
the Nation do it at national elections? Whatever force by means
of civil officers the States provide should be provided by the
Mem.: - Get the laws of a few of the leading States -the
new and the old.
Experience has shown that the protection and conduct of
national elections cannot safely be left to the States.
I cannot consent to the repeal of the election laws enacted
by Congress unless others equally effective are substituted.
Believing that the national authority is ample to protect and
secure free and fair congressional elections, I must insist upon
retaining the existing laws until more efficient and better are
enacted. If national military force is not allowed to keep the
peace at the polls, civil authority should be provided for that
The enactment into law of this bill will turn over to the mere
local authorities the most important national elections. The
Constitution does not contemplate this. It provides (Article I,
Section 4):- "The times, places, and manner of holding elec-
tions for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each
State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any
time, by law, make or alter such regulations, except as to the
place of choosing Senators."
The principle of the bill is a denial of the right and duty of the
Nation to legislate for the security of congressional elections.
The State may have its military at the polls and its police,
but the Nation is to be powerless. Or rather, the bill admits
the right, the duty, and the necessity for national supervision,
but denies the power to make it effective.
March 23, 1879. - The Democrats in Congress show signs of
receding from their revolutionary programme. They now talk
of trying to remove the objectionable features in the election
laws. But the claim still seems to be all but universal that the
National Government has no right to use force, either military
or civil, to protect the freedom of the elections. The States alone
are to be allowed such powers. They may have both military
and police forces, but the Nation is to be confined to mere super-
vision, observation, and the like. This will not do. The author-
ity of the National Government must be maintained.
The proposed compromise measure does not protect the polls
from military interference. There may be soldiers, police, and
the posse comitatus at the polls, but they must be under state
authority. The National Government alone is forbidden to ex-
hibit force to keep the peace and protect electors. This is not
the principle of the Constitution. This whole power is expressly
vested in the United States.
The facts in which the law had its origin are well known. In
the opinion of many well informed citizens, the election ten
years ago in the first State in population and political power,
was carried by frauds. The true result of the state, Presidential,
and congressional elections were [was] reversed. An investiga-
tion confirmed the belief of the public and this law was enacted.
Recent elections in several States have shown that state regu-
lations are not to be relied on to secure free and fair elections.
It is believed that if the congressional elections, at which members
of the present House of Representatives were chosen, had been
free and fair, and their results correctly reported and acted upon,
that there would have been a majority of the present House op-
posed to the bill I am now considering. With the experience
of the last twenty years before us, we are forced to the conclu-
sion that the ample powers which the Constitution confers to
regulate congressional elections should be exerted in furtherance
of laws as equal and impartial in their operation as can be de-
vised. If the present laws need changes, in order to render them
more effective and at the same time more impartial, less expen-
sive, and less liable to abuse, I shall cheerfully unite with
Congress in securing such modifications of existing statutes.
But to repeal these laws without substituting better--especially
if it be done on the principle that the national authority is to be
subordinate to the state--is in my judgment wholly inad-
If there had been free and fair elections in [all] the States
during the last few years, there would now be Republican ma-
jorities in both Houses of Congress--in the Senate and in the
The question presented by this bill is not whether we shall
have the present law or a better one, but between this law and
no national law at all for the protection of the elections. If the
present laws are not so efficient as may be desired; if, notwith-
standing these laws, great outrages have been committed against
the freedom and fairness of elections, it is our duty to provide
It is not to be denied that in the last elections great wrongs
were done; the laws conferring suffrage on citizens were not
regarded in some parts of the country. These provisions should
be enforced. Let us have an effort to do it.
It is not the plain duty of the National Government to make
such regulations respecting the election of members of the House
of Representatives as will secure free and fair elections, in case
the States fail to do it?
Suppose the President should say, I will sign no bill on any
subject of general legislation until the appropriation bills are
I do not call in question the motives of those with whom I am
unable to agree, but believing the tendency of this bill is to de-
prive the President of the share in legislation which is conferred
upon him by the Constitution, I cannot approve it. The attempt
to pass a measure under a menace that the Government shall be
stopped if the President declines to yield his convictions of duty
has never yet succeeded - has never before been made. To
consent to it is to make a radical change in the character of the
Government. The House of Representatives, in case this prin-
ciple is established, becomes the Government. With the sole
power to originate the measures upon which the existence of
government depends, and with the doctrine established that the
House may legitimately refuse to act unless the other branches
of the Government obey its commands, the House of Represen-
tatives will become a despotism with unlimited power.
If in all of the States the last Congressional elections had been
free and fair elections, this bill would, it is believed, never have
been passed by Congress.
For my views on fair elections see message on registry laws
in Ohio and the last regular message.
It is the right and duty, and the necessity exists, that the Presi-
dent should exhaust his constitutional authority to secure to every
American citizen possessing the qualifications of an elector the
right to cast at each congressional election one unintimidated
ballot and to have it honestly counted. The existing legislation
enacted with this end in view - for this purpose--is not so
effective as it should be; it may be liable to abuses; but it should
not be repealed without providing in its stead a measure more
wisely framed to accomplish the desired object.
Authority exists in most of the States to use the military at
the polls (?). If the red-shirts can be present at the polls in
South Carolina, why cannot the bluecoats be called in also?
Authority exists in the States, also, to marshal civil officers
at the polls to keep the peace, make arrests, and the like. May
not the Nation do the same?
To protect the rights of citizens and to secure peaceful and
fair elections, the States generally have provided laws author-
izing at state elections the military to keep the peace and to pro-
tect the voters. There are also laws authorizing civil officers,
sheriffs, police, and the like, to maintain the freedom of the state
elections. In the absence of regulations by the national authority,
the States would still have soldiers at the polls and civil officers
authorized to make arrests. But the Constitution confers su-
preme authority on the National Government as to the regulation
of the national congressional elections.
March 27, 1879.--The question still lacks adequate state-
ment. If the two houses of Congress make the approval of any
measure of general legislation a condition without which they
will refuse to make the requisite appropriations to carry on the
Government, should the President yield to that coercion?
Curtis, Volume 2, p. 257: -"The authority of Congress at
any time to make or alter such regulations when exercised must
be paramount, whether a state regulation exists at the time or
The authority of the general Government to regulate by law at
any time the congressional elections is paramount.
Whatever is to be done in regard to elections, here is ample
power to do it. Whatever the States may do as to their elections,
the United States may do as to congressional elections--and
that, as Curtis says, "whether a state regulation exists at the
time or not."
Believing that the National Government under the Constitution
has power to enact and enforce laws regulating congressional
elections so as to secure fair and peaceful elections, and con-
vinced that the necessity for such legislation exists, I cannot
approve any measure for the repeal of the present laws on that
subject which does not provide wise and efficient safeguards in
pursuance of the fourth section of the first article of the Con-
stitution for the elections which are under the national control.
By the Constitution Congress has ample power to "make"
"regulations" prescribing "the times, places, and manner of hold-
ing elections for Senators and Representatives" in Congress.
Congress is thus invested with all the powers now exercised by
the States in relation to these elections, and can prescribe elec-
tion districts, provide for election officers, the mode of announc-
ing, authenticating, and declaring the results, and prescribe
offenses for officers, voters, and others, in all respects affecting
or connected with such elections. The Constitution "authorizes
Congress to do supremely whatever the state Legislatures may do
provisionally on any part of the subject."
Note. - Mr. Webster in regard to the right of suffrage, lays
down "two great principles of the American system: 1. The
right of suffrage shall be guarded, protected, and secured against
force and against fraud. 2. Its exercise shall be prescribed by
previous law," etc. - [Volume] 6, Webster's Works, 224.
The laws which it is proposed to repeal are safeguards of hon-
est elections, of fair and peaceable elections.
I am convinced that it is my duty to exhaust every
executive authority committed to me by the Constitution
and the laws to secure to every citizen having the requisite qual-.
ifications the right to cast one unintimidated ballot and to have
it honestly counted.
These laws, framed as safeguards of honest elections, adopted
by more than two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress,
approved by the President, carried into effect during the last
eight years in many States without serious question of their
validity by any court of the United States, called into action on
the suggestion [or] application of both political parties in dif-
ferent States, with a very general conviction among the people
that national laws are necessary to secure from violence and
fraud the national elections, I cannot consent to their absolute
repeal. If national laws can be framed which will better secure
impartiality, less expense, or greater efficiency, I will cheerfully
concur with Congress in such legislation. But if it is sought to
repeal this or any other legislation and to obtain the approval of
the President by the threat that Congress will grant no supplies
to carry on the Government unless such approval is had, I am
compelled by my convictions of duty to use every constitutional
authority (means) at my command to prevent the repeal upon
Every measure should stand or fall on its own merits. This
should be the fundamental principle in legislation.
March 31.-We had at family dinner yesterday (Sun-
day) my kinsman, Linus Austin, of Cleveland, Senator and Mrs.
Dawes, Mr. and Mrs. Shellabarger, Mr. Hiscock, General Mc-
Cook, General Keifer, and the young people, Miss McDowell, of
Chicago, Tracy, classmate of Rutherford at Cornell, and Webb
and Rutherford. An unusually chatty and lively dinner. Gen-
eral Keifer explained the word "gerrymander." All knew the
history of the first part of the word in its connection, but Gen-
eral Keifer explained that the animal the misshapen district
resembled was the salamander. "Oh no," said one, "it is a
Gerrymander." Mr. Dawes explained how caucus came from
caulkers with whom Samuel Adams and Hancock arranged be-
forehand to control the public meetings in Faneuil Hall and the
Old South Church. I told how the Ohio "tinpan" was a trans-
lation (sic) of the Latin name of the saloon, called the cantine.
A res-taurant is [so] called because it is a bully of a thing.
The talk was mainly on political topics. Garfield's speech,
McCook thought the finest speech he ever heard. All praised
it. Mr. Evarts and the young ladies came in during the evening;
also Senator Hoar and General Devens. Mr. Evarts regards the
controversy as growing out of the wish of party leaders to make
issues for the next Presidential election. That the Democrats
began it and that the Republicans are now in it. That the Ad-
ministration should keep out of it.
He doesn't seem to see that it is merely a new form of the
old conflict between ultra state rights and the national doctrines.
The state-rights men are for putting all power in local author-
ities. We believe the national authority should be exerted to
protect elections which are national, so far [as] the Constitution
sanctions. We have none too many safeguards for the elections.
Mr. Hoar agreed with me that in the present situation I may
properly veto any appropriation bill which contains political
legislation tacked to it for the purpose of compelling me to ap-
prove it under the threat that otherwise the Government shall
be stopped for want of supplies, no matter what may be the
merits of such legislation. In doing it, the history of this extra
session may be given to show the purpose of the House in at-
taching a political measure to an appropriation bill. They mean
to obtain and establish a precedent which will lead to the
consolidation of all of the powers of the Government in the
hands of a bare majority of the House of Representatives.
The present controversy is in no sense partisan and it is not
a question of race or color. The old question, State's rights, al-
ways seems closely related to sectional and race conflicts, but
this is chiefly as a reminiscence. No present interest of a sec-
tional character is involved. The laws concerned are mainly
employed in the densely-peopled regions of the North.
The law proposed to be repealed was passed by the concurrent
action of both political parties and became a law by the approval
of President Lincoln.
April 3, 1879. -There is no urgent demand for this measure
on account of military interference in elections. No complaint
of such interference has been heard from any quarter at the
recent elections, or at any election under the present Administra-
tion. There is no pretense even that the military power of the
United States has been exhibited at or near any place of elec-
tion. The army is fully employed guarding the frontiers and
the Territories. There is no practical necessity for prohibiting
the military forces of the United States from keeping the peace
at the polls, and no petitions, memorials, or complaints have been
received from the people. If the necessity existed for preventing
military interference with elections, this measure is not broad
enough. The national elections should be protected from all
military interference. The state military force should be ex-
cluded as well as the national forces. The power of the United
to regulate and control the congressional [elections] is ample
and supreme. If military interference is feared in the future,
there should be no discrimination against the United States at
these elections. Let the state forces be prohibited.
But the practical importance of this measure is not in its
provisions against military authority at the polls. It forbids all
United States power from being present at the polls to keep the
peace. The prohibition extends to the civil authority as well as
to the military. The terms of this bill are: "No military or
naval officer or other person engaged in the civil, military, or
naval service of the United States, shall order, bring, etc., etc."
In short, this bill denies to the United States the power to pro-
tect its own elections by either military or civil auhority. This
power is granted to the United States in express terms by Sec-
tion 4 of Article I, and may be exercised at any time. The power
granted is ample and supreme.
April 5, 1879. - The bill has two parts. It makes appropria-
tions and it amends the election laws - the laws relating to the
When was the first restriction placed on the power of the
United States to keep the peace at the polls, and elsewhere?
Has it not been a power always used? Prior to the act of
February, 1865, the United States forces might be placed under
civil or military authority whenever the officers in command
of them might in their discretion order.
Suppose the governor of New York called on the President
under Article 4 of the Constitution, and the circumstances re-
quired action at the polls on election day; does this bill forbid
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
Fremont, Ohio, 43420