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Houses, and the certificates were opened by the President of the Senate, in the alphabetical order of the States, beginning with Alabama. The votes of that State, and of Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Delaware were counted without objection. When the certificates from Florida were opened, it appeared that more than one return had been received. Mr. Field made objection to the certificate first read. Thereupon the following communication was made to the Electoral Commission:
"HALL OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, February 1, 1877.
"TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE COMMISSION:
"More than one return or paper purporting to be a return or certificate of electoral votes of the State of Florida, having been received and this day opened in the presence of the two Houses of Congress, and objections thereto having been made, the said returns, with all accompanying papers, and also the objections thereto, are herewith submitted to the judgment and decision of the Commission, as provided by law. T. W. FERRY,
"President of the Senate."
The two Houses separated, and the papers were submitted to the Commission, before which Mr. Field made the following argument, February 2, 1877.
THE FLORIDA ELECTION.
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION: It will be my endeavor, in the statement which I shall make, to set forth with as much conciseness as I can the facts that we expect to prove and the propositions of law which we hope to establish.
The power devolved by the Federal Constitution upon the States of this Union was, in the State of Florida, exercised by the Legislature of the State directing the appointment of presidential electors to be made by the qualified voters of the State at a general election. That election was held on the 7th of November, 1876. It was, so far as we are informed, quiet and orderly throughout the State, and it remained only to gather the result of the voting. That result was a majority in favor of the electors whom, for convenience' sake, I will designate as the Tilden electors. Nevertheless, a certificate has come here signed by the then Governor of the State, certifying that the Hayes electors had a majority of the votes. By what sort of jugglery that result was accomplished I take it upon me to explain.
By the laws of the State the counties are divided into pollingprecincts, and the votes of the polling-precincts are returned to the county clerk at the county seat, where they are canvassed, and the county canvassers certify the result to the State canvassers.
I have occasion to mention canvassers only in one county. That county was decisive of the result; but, if it were not, ex uno disce omnes. The county to which I refer is the county of Baker. The canvassers were by law to be the county judge, the county clerk (or rather, I think, he is called the clerk of the circuit court for the county, but I call him for convenience the county clerk), and a justice of the peace, to be by them called in for their assistance. In case either the judge or the clerk is for any cause absent, the sheriff of the county is to be called in his place. The law provides that the canvass by the county canvassers shall be made on the sixth day after the election, or sooner if the returns are all received.
In this county there were but four precincts, and the returns from them were all received in three days. On the 10th of November the county clerk, considering that, the returns being in, further delay in the canvass might be embarrassing-for what reasons it does not devolve on me to say-requested the county judge to join him in the canvass. The county judge refused. The clerk then asked the sheriff to join him, but he declined. The clerk thereupon called to his assistance a justice of the peace and made the canvass, and a true canvass it was, as all parties seem to agree. I have never heard anywhere the suggestion that the votes as certified by them were not the true votes. But it so happened that the county judge, on the same day, the 10th, issued a notice to the county clerk and to a justice of the peace to attend him at the county seat on the 13th, which, as you will remember, was just six days after the election, at noon, for the purpose of making the count. On that day and hour the county clerk and the justice thus requested attended. The county judge, however, absented himself, though he had given the notice. He was invited and urged to go on with the canvassing. The record shows that he laughed, and said he thought that what had been already done was enough. The sheriff was then applied to and he refused. Thereupon the county clerk and a justice of the peace-another justice called in-recanvassed the votes, giving the same result precisely, and certified them to the State canvassers, stating in the certificate the reasons why neither the county judge nor the sheriff was present. The office of the clerk was then closed for the day.
In the evening of that day the same county judge and the same sheriff, taking to their assistance a justice of the peace who
had been commissioned by Stearns only on the 10th and who had never acted before, entered the office surreptitiously, opened a drawer and took out the returns, threw aside two precincts, certified the two remaining, and sent that certificate to the State canvassers. No just man will say that this certificate of these men, made under these circumstances, in the darkness of night, throwing out two precincts, and sent thus to the State canvassers, without a reason given why the county clerk was not present, should be taken as the true voice of the county. That I do not misrepresent the facts in any respect, let me read to you the testimony as it will appear upon the record to be laid before you. This is the testimony in respect of this third canvass, this false and fraudulent canvass, which I will read as given by the sheriff:
Here follows the testimony, which it is not necessary now to reprint.
Now let us go from this county canvass to the State canvass. When the State canvassers were at work, there were certain significant telegrams passing between Florida and Washington; I omit the names of the correspondents, except that of the Governor, Stearns, the man whose certificate is before you, certifying to the election of the Hayes electors. The examination is thus reported:
Q. "Do you recollect any telegram at Lake City, about the 25th of December, asking-(say the chairman of the National Republican Committee)-any questions about attacking the returns?"
A. "I remember one dispatch (I can not give the date), asking on what grounds they should assail these counties, or words to that effect."
Q. "What was the answer?"
A. "There was a dispatch subsequently received (whether or not it was the answer to it, you must draw your own conclusion). The words in it were 'fraud, intimidation.' There was another word which may have been 'violence'; but I am not sure that it was violence."
Thereupon the State canvassers did what? They took the third canvass from Baker County and amended it as appears in the "Congressional Record" of February 1, page 65, adding "amended by canvassing all the precinct returns," and that statement of the full canvass is the true one as to Baker County; that
is, they got at a true result in respect to that county by taking the false certificate and amending it so as to take in all the returns. But what did they then do? Stearns was a candidate for the office of Governor. He was then Governor, and he was a candidate for the succession. His opponent was Mr. Drew. The canvassers were Stearns's appointees, to go out of office with him, or to remain in office if he were counted in. They took the returns from the other counties and threw out enough to give the State to the Hayes electors and to Stearns as Governor.
Thus the matter stood upon the State canvass then made. You will observe that it gave the true vote of Baker County, but eliminated from the votes of other counties certain precincts, enough to elect their patron Stearns. But it did not remain so, as I will show in a moment; for this elimination being declared by the Supreme Court illegal, the canvassers thereupon, in order to prevent a majority appearing for the Tilden electors, recalled their amendment of the Baker County false return, and used the original with all its falsehood. These are the facts which we offer to make good by evidence, as the Commission may prescribe, by a cloud of witnesses, and by a host of documents, and they show, beyond peradventure, that the return to which we object is a false return. Let us now see what followed.
This monstrous fraud being so far accomplished, the people of the State took it upon themselves to right the wrong, and they worked with a spirit and an approach to success which do them all honor. Not even your own native State of New Hampshire, Mr. President, could have stood up for its rights more manfully. If such a fraud had been perpetrated there, you would have heard a voice from her people that would have shaken the everlasting foundations of her granite hills. From peak to peak, and from the westernmost peak to the shining sea, you would have heard a roar of dissent and of indignation. So their brethren of Florida raised their voices through all the flowery peninsula, and they effected the results which I will now narrate. First, Drew, the candidate for Governor on the other side, went into the courts of law, as a law-abiding citizen should do, and will ever do so long as he can get justice in the courts, albeit that when he finds he can not get it there he may try to get it elsewhere. He went into the Supreme Court of the State and applied for a mandamus to compel this canvassing board to restore to their canvass the eliminated precincts, and the Supreme
Court decided that the State canvassers had no power under the laws of Florida to eliminate votes, but were bound to count every lawful vote put into the ballot-box; that they were neither electors nor judges otherwise than of the votes put in; and thereupon in obedience to this decision they restored to the canvass the rejected precincts and certified a majority for Drew. Upon this, Drew took his office, and is now the lawful and accepted Governor of the State.
What did the Tilden electors do? They commenced in a Circuit Court of Florida, which had competent jurisdiction, an information in the nature of a quo warranto against the Hayes electors. They charged in the information that they, the relators, were the lawful claimants of the office, and that the others were usurpers. That information was commenced before the Hayes electors voted on the 6th of December. The case proceeded in the regular course of legal proceedings until it came to trial and judgment, first upon a demurrer, and then, the demurrer being overruled and an answer interposed, upon the issues and proofs; and here is the judgment of the court. After the recitals it thus declares :
"It is therefore considered and adjudged that said respondents (the Hayes electors, Humphreys and the rest) were not, nor was any one of them, elected, chosen, or appointed as such electors or elector, or entitled to receive certificates or certificate of election or appointment as such electors or elector, and that the said respondents were not, upon the said sixth day of December, or at any other time, entitled to assume or exercise any of the powers and functions of such electors or elector, but that they were, upon the said day and date, mere usurpers.
"And it is further considered and adjudged that the said relators, Robert Bullock, Robert B. Hilton, Wilkinson Call, and James E. Yonge [the Tilden electors] all and singular, were at said election duly elected, chosen, and appointed electors of President and Vice-President of the United States, and were on the said 6th day of December, 1876, entitled to be declared elected, chosen, and appointed as such electors, and to have and receive certificates thereof, and upon the said day and date, and at all times since, to exercise and perform all and singular the powers and duties of such electors, and to have and enjoy the pay and emoluments thereof."
So much for the action of the judicial department of Florida. Everything was done, I take it upon me to say, which it was possible to do; so that I am warranted in asserting that, if there were any way known to the law by which this defrauded State