Sunday, March 01, 2009

Ruther-"fraud" B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes (1882-1893)

(President from 1877-1881, 19th)

By Richard E. Noble

Rutherford, called Ruther-"fraud" by his enemies, was a proud Union General who became president amidst a storm of controversy. His opponent, Democrat Samuel Tilden, polled 250,000 more popular votes than Republican Hayes. An electoral committee with only one independent vote, a Justice Joseph Bradley, would decide the new president. Hayes was selected. Even before his election or appointment Hayes had sworn to serve only one term.
The South would agree to his appointment on the condition that he end the occupation and reconstruction. Lincoln and Johnson had pretty much lost the battle for readmitting the rebellious Southern States to the Union without prejudice. The dominant, right-wing, religious, radical Republicans, demanded retribution. They wanted the Confederate States to be nothing more than occupied territory. They wanted military rule and government by, of, and from the Negro population; an ignorant, black ruling populace who would be guided by northern radical-right Republicans, or Yankees. The South had lost the war and their true savior, Abraham Lincoln, had been assassinated by one of their own. And now their biggest fear was coming true. A black slave, majority population was being installed as their rulers.
The Southern white population formed secret organizations designed to counter the Yankee military occupation, the political infiltration of northern, Yankee "carpetbaggers", and black Negro rule. The Klu Klux Klan, a social club, originally organized by six young, Confederate veterans from Tennessee in 1865, and then politicized in 1867 under the elected Grand Wizard, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was the largest and most notorious of these organizations. The Klu Klux Klan, and other white groups like the Knights of the White Camellia, countered the reconstruction (Yankee occupation) with violence, murder and terrorism, specifically towards the blacks.
Rutherford is credited with ending the horrid reconstruction injustice by pulling the Yankee troops from the South. But what Rutherford accomplished with this act, countered what he considered to be his life's greatest achievement, ending slavery. By pulling the troops from the South he assured Negro abuse, and persecution for nearly another century. He basically left an unequipped, unprotected Negro population to fend for itself amidst a belligerent, hurt and vengeful population of humiliated and defeated whites. Rutherford had risked his life to protect and free the enslaved Negro, and then he abandoned them. Certainly Andrew Johnson and especially U. S. Grant must also shoulder some burden here in allowing the Klan and terrorism to grow and prosper. The Negro was the baby thrown out with the baptismal water of the Civil War. It does seem that neither Rutherford's greatest achievement, freeing the world of slavery, and Lincoln's greatest goal, preserving the Union, were accomplished. The Civil War had left the Union decimated; the South an unwanted, alienated step child; the North in a political and financial shambles over power, money and control; and the Negro abandoned.
My question is inevitable, has any war ever solved any of the problems and arguments supposedly in question?
Mark Twain took Horace Greeley’s advice to union draftees who didn't want to fight in this confusing dilemma and went West. He seems to have made the wisest personal choice.