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NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
JULY-AUGUST, 18 7 7.
ART. I. — THE ELECTORAL CONSPIRACY.
Thou play'dst most foully for't.” SINCE the first formation of what Washington called "our happy system of government,” no event not accompanied with violence or war has excited a feeling so intense as the act of “counting in Hayes.” But the public men of the country, and the people generally, are far from being agreed about its character or its probable effect in the future.
Democrats, who knew Mr. Tilden to be elected by an overwhelming majority, both of the popular vote and of the electors duly appointed, were transported with passionate indignation when they saw his defeated competitor lifted over his head by a series of maneuvres which they thought alike incompatible with honesty and law. In every part of the country, by the press, from the rostrum and in the halls of Congress, the charge of base and unmitigated fraud was thundered into the ear of the world. Some, who indulged in no vehemence of objurgation or reproach, were bowed down with shame at the thought that their proud right as American citizens of electing a ruler for themselves had been taken out of their hands by a trick, and transferred to a set of low conspirators, whom they could not help but hold in utter detestation. All that once ennobled the nation seemed to be buried in this deep grave dug by the Returning Board and filled up by the Electoral Commission.
VOL. CXXV. — NO. 257. 1
But the voice of lamentation proves nothing; neither does the wrath which “cleaves the general ear with horrid speech”; for both are the natural utterances of a defeated party, especially when the defeat comes unexpectedly, after victory was assured, and in ways not foreseen. There is another side to the case.
The men who did this deed will not admit it to have been wrong, or let judgment of condemnation go by default. Some misgivings there may have been here and there; but nearly all zealous Republicans saw it with unreserved approbation. Not only the herd of low politicians, who always ramp and swear and bluster on the winning side, but high-placed gentlemen of good character heard the announcement with pleasure, that what we call the Louisiana swindle was too sacred a thing to be questioned. The decision was hailed by Christian statesmen with loud benedictions. On Sunday, the 4th of March, pious Republicans assembled themselves together in prayer-meetings, and simultaneously sent up to heaven the most fervent petitions that God would bless the Returning Boards and the Electoral Commission, sanctify the work of their hands, and prosper the pseudo President whom they had placed in power. Elsewhere the party demonstrated its pleasure by firing off a large number of great guns. In some places the admiring people gathered in gay and festive crowds, and drank deep potations to the defeat of Tilden's big majority, while Bradley and Kellogg, Chandler and Packard, Wells, Anderson, and the two mulattoes, were “in their flowing cups freshly remembered.” In both Houses of Congress the representatives of the party to whom Mr. Hayes belonged stood square and solid in defence of his title. They heard the imputation of dishonesty upon themselves and their fellow-partisans with no sign of shame or fear. On the contrary, “hope elevated and joy brightened their crests,” as they saw the imposture progress step by step to its consummation. Two members from Massachusetts were troubled with scruples, and one from Florida denounced the fraud which elected himself as well as Hayes; but this could scarcely be said to break the unanimity of the party. Since the close of the session they have seemed to enjoy their triumph mightily, and the applause of their beloved constituents has not been wanting to increase their self-satisfaction.
It is very manifest from all this that the party calling itself Republican differs toto cælo from the Democratic view of the sub