Fraud of the century

Fraud of the century

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before: election night has passed, and the race between two American presidential candidates is still too close to call. The popular vote favors the hesitant Democrat, but after a protracted and contentious fight over recounts and electoral votes, the well-connected Republican is elected president. Of course, we’re talking about the 1876 presidential election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden, which historian Roy Morris Jr. chronicles in his book Fraud of the Century. Morris spends a lot of the book setting the scene by introducing both the folksy Hayes from Ohio and the urbane New Yorker Tilden characters. Despite their differences, both men are portrayed as principled and, ironically, committed to eradicating corruption and deception. When the post-election mayhem ensues, the reader may have a clearer understanding of the players. After Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida send several “official” ballots with various victorious candidates, the Electoral College is unable to declare a winner. Several shady deals are worked out in Hayes’ favor, while Tilden’s supporters threaten to march on Washington and forcefully install their guy. According to Morris, the most detrimental consequence of the mess is a widespread mood of mistrust and acrimony in Congress, a mood that would lead to the South’s infamous Jim Crow rules. Morris’ thorough research would appeal to history buffs, but everybody loves a good political thriller. —Moe, John

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The 1876 presidential election, which pitted Ohio Republican Governor Rutherford B. Hayes against New York Democratic Governor Samuel Tilden, was the most sensational and fraudulent in American history. In several respects, it was also the Civil War’s final battle. Tilden got 265,000 more votes than his rival and only needed one more electora to win.
This is a fascinating novel. You’d think that as a country, the United States would have learned its lesson from this election, but we’re still debating Bush vs. Gore and the 2016 US Presidential election. When are we going to learn from our mistakes?!
This is a fascinating novel. You’d think that as a country, the United States would have learned its lesson from this election, but we’re still debating Bush vs. Gore and the 2016 US Presidential election. When are we going to learn from our mistakes?!
The introduction was a little dry, but it was better than the rest of the content. Covers the contested 1876 election, which was determined by a single political member of the Supreme Court due to electoral discrepancies in Florida. Another interesting comparison is voters being disenfranchised, with entire counties’ vote totals being tossed out. It focuses a bit too much on the candidates’ history and doesn’t go into enough detail about the effects of restoration and carpetbaggers. A brief epilogue contrasts Rutherford B. Hayes’ presidency to that of Abraham Lincoln.

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Author informationRM

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Morris, Roy Jr.

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Roy Morris Jr. is the publisher of Military Heritage magazine and the author of four books about the Civil War and postwar periods, including Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876, which the Wall Street Journal praised as “bravely nonconformist and greatly entertaining”; and The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War, which the New York Times praised as “brilliantly nonconformist and greatly entertaining Roy Morris is a Chattanooga resident.

Fraud of the century: the election of president hayes

Winik, Jay High-stakes shenanigans, low-level politics, rampant partisanship, riveting personal challenges, and lingering sectional animosities abound in this page-turning novel. If you thought Bush v. Gore was a divisive problem, wait until you read this.
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