Hopefully, the 6 January 2021 Trump riot will kill U.S. Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) effort to recreate the events that led to Jim Crow.
Cruz and several other U.S. Senators tried to create a Commission to investigate electoral fraud and pick the next president. Frighteningly, Cruz wanted to model his panel on the commission that hid the loathsome Compromise of 1877 from the public.
Congress created the Commission because there was no clear winner in the 1876 presidential election. Samuel J. Tilden (D-New York) won a clear majority of the popular vote 4.3 million. However, Rutherford B. Hayes (R-Ohio) won the Electoral College by a disputed majority of 184 to 164 votes.
The Stolen Election of 1876
Democrats cried foul because Republican state governments in the South appointed many of the electors.
To explain, Republicans only controlled several Southern states because federal troops prevented white Democrats from voting. The US Army occupied several former Confederate states during the Post Civil War Reconstruction effort.
Similarly, Republicans cried fraud, pointing to widespread voter suppression and violence directed against African Americans in the South and some northern cities. After the Civil War, Confederate veterans in the South and white gang members in the North often attacked blacks who tried to vote. Republicans alleged that Democratic politicians were behind the violence because blacks usually voted for the Party of Lincoln.
When no clear winner emerged on Election Day 1876, both Democrats and Republicans began aggressive efforts to invalidate the other party’s Electors. Eventually, the Electoral College became gridlocked, with both Democrats and Republicans having 184 votes each.
The Commission that Created Jim Crow
That meant Congress had to pick the president as mandated by the Constitution. However, Congress itself was gridlocked, with Democrats controlling the U.S. House of Representatives and Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate.
Democrats thinking Republicans could rob them of the presidency began threatening violence. Many feared Southerners were about to dig their Confederate Army uniforms out of the trunk and launch a second Civil War.
To prevent bloodshed, Congress created a commission to settle the dispute. In reality, the commission was a fraud designed to hide the most notorious backroom deal in American history – the Compromise of 1877.
Under the Compromise Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South, leaving blacks at the mercy of Confederate veterans. In exchange, Democrats agreed to accept Hayes as president.
The Rise of Jim Crow
With the troops gone, white Democrats began suppressing votes and seizing total control of Southern state and local governments.
The new governments began enacting Jim Crow laws that stripped blacks of all Constitutional rights. Under Jim Crow, they segregated most institutions by race, meaning blacks only or whites only. Predictably, black facilities were far inferior to white accommodations or nonexistent.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896 made Jim Crow the law of the land. In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supremes ruled that state and local governments the authority to force companies and other private institutions to discriminate against blacks.
Highlights of Jim Crow include the murder or lynching of 4,743 people by racist mobs. White authorities ignored or actively encouraged lynching to terrorize blacks and white political opponents.
Why we need to Fear Cruz’s Commission
I think we need to fear Cruz’s commission because it resembles the Commission of 1877.
The Commission of 1877 provided cover for the Compromise of 1877 and the creation of Jim Creation, McKay claims. Similarly, the Potter Committee provided justification for Jim Crow by publicizing fraud.
Ironically, McKay notes that the Potter Committee backfired on Democrats by uncovering evidence that Tilden had tried to bribe election officials. Thus, the investigation discredited the fraud allegations by exposing Tilden as just as corrupt as the Republicans.
Ultimately, the only casualty of the Potter Committee was Tilden’s political career. Tilden’s presidential hopes died after The New York Tribune published 750 telegrams that appeared to offer election officials bribes in exchange for a Tilden victory. The Potter Committee uncovered those telegrams. In 1880, Democrats nominated squeaky clean war hero and Union General Winfield Scott Hancock for President, instead of Tilden.
Eventually, both Democrats and Republicans cooperated on a resolution that claimed no tribunal had the power to reverse Presidential election results. Thus, the Potter Committee strengthened the Compromise of 1877 by destroying Tilden’s reputation.
The Potter Committee
Many Americans, however, refused to accept Hayes as president. Hayes’ nickname was “Rutherfraud B. Hayes.”
Hayes’ defeated opponent, Tilden, fueled the flames with a speech in which he alleged, “I did not get robbed — the people got robbed. It was a robbery of the dearest rights of an American citizen.”
Consequently, U.S. Representative Clarkson N. Potter (D-NY) introduced a resolution to investigate the “alleged false and fraudulent” elections in Louisiana and Florida in May 1878. Writing in The Washington Post, historian Stuart McKay says he thinks Cruz is trying to imitate the Potter Committee.
The Committee uncovered enormous amounts of evidence of electoral fraud, voter suppression, and violence. However, the Committee could not reverse the Compromise or remove Hayes from office.
Commissions can do More Harm than Good
The 1877 example shows two dangers from such commissions. First, the commissions can serve as political theater to cover up worse crimes. For example, the Commission of 1877 hid the actual crime; the Compromise from the public.
Second, as McKay points out, investigating commissions can make the situation worse by digging up additional dirt, smearing both sides, covering up worse crimes, and creating dubious official narratives nobody believes. Notably, the questionable Warren Commission inspired many of the conspiracy theories around the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).
The 1877 example shows commissions can do more harm than good. Therefore, the last thing America needs is a commission digging into the election of 2020.
Lucifer in the Flesh
Hopefully, the Trump Riot will end the noxious career of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Cruz is the man former U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner once called “Lucifer in the flesh.”
Recent events show Boehner’s assessment of Cruz was correct. Given Boehner’s statement I think Cruz wants to use an investigating commission to demolish our government and disrupt the political system to create opportunities for himself.
History shows nothing good can come from investigating commissions in the present political climate. Americans need to avoid them.