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It's fitting that Rehnquist, who as chief justice of the Supreme Court played his own role in the contested presidential election of 2000, would offer an account of a similar case 125 years earlier. But Rehnquist is a lesser narrator of popular history than he is a jurist; the only interest in this account may be his rueful regret over the lack of "tolerance" shown for political proclivities shown by the Supreme Court justices recruited to help resolve the disputed 1876 election. They were part of a commission appointed by Congress, which because of its own political division could not resolve the electoral impasse. Democratic presidential candidate Samuel Tilden won the popular majority nationwide, but fell a single vote short of the electoral majority of 185 needed to win. Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes took 165 electoral votes, and 20 votes were disputed-19 from three states that still had Reconstruction governments (South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida), and one from Oregon. So Congress impaneled a commission of 10 congressmen and five U.S. Supreme Court justices who, voting along party lines, awarded the presidency to Hayes. Rehnquist narrates these well-known facts in a workmanlike but uncompromisingly dry manner, adding nothing new in fact or analysis. Readers interested in the election of 1876 would do better to consult Roy B. Morris Jr.'s critically acclaimed Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Disputed Election of 1876, published last year. Illus. not seen by PW. (Mar. 5) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Annotations

Documents the contested presidential election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes, covering the five-month electoral dispute in multiple states and the corruption and turmoil that contributed to the outcome. - (Baker & Taylor)

Documents the contested presidential election campaign between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes, covering the five-month electoral dispute in multiple states, the corruption and turmoil that contributed to the outcome, and the endeavors of Justice Joseph Bradley and the Electoral Commission to cast the deciding vote. 30,000 first printing. First serial, American History. - (Baker & Taylor)

Near midnight on election day in November 1876, the returns coming into Republican national headquarters signaled a victory for the Democratic presidential candidate, Samuel J. Tilden. But alert Republican leaders saw that if all of the states still doubtful or disputed went for their candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes would be elected. Word was sent out to three southern states that their returns were crucial for a Hayes victory. Thus Chief Justice William Rehnquist begins this remarkable account of one of America's greatest political dramas, a crisis that was not resolved until nearly four months later, when on March 2, 1877, only two days before Inauguration Day, Hayes was declared the winner.
In this gripping narrative, Rehnquist reaches beyond the history of a contentious election. He describes each party's maneuvers to buy votes in the southern states and the congressional, judicial, and public turmoil that followed.
He provides biographical sketches of the five Democrats and the five Republicans who were also congressional members, along with the five Supreme Court justices. When Justice Joseph Bradley cast the deciding vote for Hayes, after weeks of deliberation, the country was roused to such a fever pitch that the presidential swearing-in was held on a Sunday in near secrecy.
In a fascinating epilogue we are shown the occasions when Presidents, ranging from George Washington to Lyndon B. Johnson, have asked Supreme Court justices to help settle treaties, arbitrate disputes, or serve on investigatory commissions. Often the presiding justices had to leave the Court and its business for long periods, and inevitably were attacked for their decisions by the public and the press. Would it have been better for them to refuse a President's request?
The Chief Justice has some surprising answers. - (Blackwell North Amer)

Flap Cover Text

Near midnight on Election Day in November 1876, the returns coming into Republican National headquarters signaled a victory for the Democratic presidential candidate, Samuel J. Tilden. But alert Republican leaders saw that if all the states still doubtful or disputed went for their candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes would be elected.  Word was sent out to four southern states that their returns were crucial for a Hayes victory.  Thus Chief Justice William Rehnquist begins this remarkable account of one of American's greatest political dramas, a crisis that was not resolved for nearly four months, on March 2, 1877, only two days before Inauguration Day.      

In his gripping story, Rehnquist tells how each party maneuvered to buy votes in the southern states, how the country slid into Congressional, judicial and public turmoil, and how the creation in January of an Electoral Commission (comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans and five Supreme Court justices) was opposed by both candidates.  When that body's deciding vote was cast by Justice Joseph Bradley, public outcry reached such a fever pitch that the presidential swearing-in had to be held on a Sunday in near secrecry.    

Reaching beyond the history of a contentious election, the Chief Justice describes the political climate and economy of America in the 1870's, packing his narrative with biographical sketches of the central participants and opening a window on events in that decade that have long been overlooked.  In a compelling epilogue we learn the occasions when Presidents, ranging from George Washington to Lyndon Johnson, have asked Supreme Court justices to arbitrate disputes, settle treaties or serve on investigating commissions.  Almost always the justices were berated and attacked for their decisions.     

Would it be better for them to have refused the president’s request?  The Chief Justice has some surprising answers. - (Random House, Inc.)

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