Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 13.djvu/84
Last Chapter of Reconstruction in South Carolina. 83
How the canvass was conducted and how the election was held, has been told. We were almost as anxious to have Tilden President as Hampton Governor. Even if Chamberlain were elected, we were certain that his government would collapse, if the administration in Washington should be in Democratic hands. The party in South Carolina subsisted only under the shadow of the government in Washington, and when it should lose the prestige of its support, it would soon become impotent for evil. Great, therefore, was the sense of relief when the day after the election the news came flash- ing over the wires that both Tilden and Hampton were elected.
The history of the contest between the two parties for the counting of the presidential vote, of the successful operation by which the Returning Board of Louisiana and Florida reversed the votes of those States and gave their votes to Hayes, and the settlement of the question by a special commission elected for that purpose, really form a part of this history, but as this is a matter of general interest, and not peculiar to us, it is of crime well known, and would need- lessly lengthen our already very long paper, should it be recited here. It proved conclusively the excellence of the plan by which the Republicans proposed to keep power in their own hands by means of Returning Boards. They nullified the votes of Florida and Louisiana without any scruple, and were supported by the Re- publican party, including a part of the Federal judiciary. So that Hayes was declared elected by a majority of one vote.
Meanwhile the Chamberlain government had dwindled to a mere shadow, its jurisdiction confined to the State House, which was guarded by United States troops. The government of Hampton covered the rest of the State, and his Treasury was well supplied. It was manifest, even to the stolid mind of Grant, that Chamberlain could not be maintained in his usurped office ; that the troops must be removed which held for him the only spot on which his jurisdic- diction was acknowledged but he would not undo the mischief which he had done; that would have been a tacit acknowledgement that he had been wrong, and he defended his inaction under the flimsy pretext of unwillingness to determine what ought to be left to the discretion of his successor.
That successor must have determined very early on his course. On the 6th March Chamberlain received a communication purport-