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By One Vote: The Disputed Presidential Election of 1876

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2008 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Small review copy stamp to end paper Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 300 p. Contains: Illustrations, ... black & white. American Presidential Elections. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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"With electoral votes disputed in three states, a Democrat winning the popular vote, and the Supreme Court stepping in to overrule Florida court decisions, the presidential election of 1876 was an eerie precursor to that of 2000. Rutherford Hayes's defeat of Samuel Tilden has been dubbed the "fraud of the century"; now one of America's preeminent political historians digs deeper to unravel its real significance." "This election saw the highest voter turnout of any in U.S. history - a whopping 82 percent - and also the narrowest margin of victory, as a single electoral vote decided the outcome. Michael Holt offers a fresh interpretation of this disputed election, not merely to rehash claims of fraud but to explain why it was so close. Examining the post-Civil War political environment, he particularly focuses on its most curious feature: that Republicans were the only party in history to retain the presidency in the middle of a severe depression after decisively losing the preceding off-year congressional elections." Holt begins with the election of 1872 to demonstrate how competition for Liberal Republicans shaped the campaign strategies of both parties. He stresses the critical but little-noted importance of Colorado statehood in August - which changed the size of the electoral-vote majority needed to win - and provides a new answer to the vexing question of why a Democratic-controlled Congress had admitted Colorado in time to participate in the presidential election, when without its votes Tilden would have won. And he argues that the high voter turnout was attributable both to Republicans exploiting fears of ex-Confederates recapturing control of the government and tolong-apathetic southern Democrats reacting to war memories and Reconstruction realities.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of American History
The most comprehensive account to date of the presidential election that effectively ended Reconstruction.
Reviews in American History
A richly textured account interwoven with manifold insights regarding political motive and maneuver.
All students of U.S. political history will want to read this book. Recommended. All levels/libraries.
H-Net Reviews
Holt uses great writing amid terse exposition of complex procedural issues to tease out explanation and meaning. . . . An outstanding contribution.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700616084
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 9/23/2008
  • Series: American Presidential Elections
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael F. Holt is Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia and author of five previous books, including The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party and, most recently, The Fate of Their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War.

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Table of Contents

1 Republicans' Fall from Grace 1

2 A Pivotal Congressional Session 19

3 Previews 33

4 The Emergence of a Republican Contender: Ohio's Crucial Election of 1875 54

5 Republicans' Nomination 67

6 Democrats Are Forced to Straddle 96

7 The Campaign 119

8 The Elections of 1876 152

9 The Disputed Results 175

10 The Dispute Resolved 204

Conclusion 244

Appendix A Tables 249

Appendix B Rutherford B. Hayes's Inaugural Address, March 5, 1877 259

Notes 265

Bibliographic Essay 279

Index 285

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Worth the effort to read

    The election of 1876 is one of the more interesting and contentious elections in our history. This book covers the issues, nominations, voting and decision process of that election. It provides the reader a look at a very different America with a different set of issues and concerns. The Civil War is an active memory with some southern states still under Reconstruction Goverments. The majority of the Southern states are Democratic strongholds and America is coming to grips with ex-Confederates in public office. U. S. Grant's scandal plagued presidency is ending. Monetary policy, always questionable, is a major issue. The nation and the parties are divided and trying to keep party faithful in the fold. The Republican Party is badly split after the liberals bolted or sat out the 1874 elections. In a bitter contested election, the winner of the popular vote loses the election by one vote in the Electoral College.
    The author does his best but cannot fully engage the reader. Major problems are the complexity of the monetary question and the author's writing style. The monetary question is cover to the best degree possible. However, this complex important issue cannot be covered in a book this size. The author does a good job but the importance of the issue to the various factions is never clear. The majority of the time, we are given to understand how the parties try to sweep problems under the rug and elect a president. The author has an academic writing style. This can be hard to follow, as some of the sentences are complex, compound is the correct word for much of the sentence construction. Each word will warn the reader that the sentence structure can be hard to follow. My last objection is that Florida is a critical state in this election with a set of voting problems. The author can never resist the temptation to remind the reader that this happened in our time too.
    What is right with the book? A number of things, the author draws excellent word portraits of the people involved. He understands the times and communicates them well. He captures America emerging from Reconstruction, turning its' back on the Freemen in the South and ignoring racism in the rest of the nation. While this is about the election of 1876, the author takes the time to show how Grant's reelection in 1872 and the elections of 1874 have created the situation for 1876. While this is not a "page turner" or the easiest of reads, it is a good book with valuable information. As the title says, this book is worth the effort to read!

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