That civil rights bill did pass, but regrettably, Rep. Lynch did not receive the surprise he had hoped for; it was exactly as he had suspected: not a single one of the 114 Democrats in Congress voted for that civil rights bill; that bill like the other civil rights bills was passed by the Republicans over strident and virtually unanimous opposition of Democrats. However, this is not surprising considering the Democrats’ attitude at that time. As explained by Democratic presidential candidate Horace Greeley:
The Democratic Party of today is simply the Rebellion the Confederacy seeking to achieve its essential purposes within and through the Union. A victory which does republican U. S. rep. john r. lynch democrat Horace Greeley not enable it the Democratic Party to put its feet on the necks of the black race seems to the bulk of its adherents not worth having. It clings to that exaggerated notion of States’ rights which makes them the shield of all manner of wrongs and abuses. That 1875 civil rights bill was the last of the almost two dozen civil rights bills passed under Republicans. In fact, following the passage of that 1875 bill, it would be another 89 years before the next civil rights law was passed. Why did the remarkable progress come to an abrupt halt after 1875? Because in 1876 Democrats gained control of the U. S. House for the first time since 1865; therefore, with a divided Congress, Democrats successfully blocked any further progress in the civil rights arena. Facing such strident and irrational Democratic obstructionists, the enthusiasm for fighting in that arena soon waned and civil rights momentum was lost.
However, not only did Democrats gain the U. S. House in 1876 but also they were able to bring Reconstruction to a close by having all federal troops withdrawn from the South, thus removing the final protective barrier between black Americans and those Democrats aggressively seeking to violate their new-found civil rights. That federal protection had been crucial to black Americans at that time, for as a Republican election official from Mississippi explained in 1868:
The Rebels never needed protection; they have had it all the time; it is only the Republicans – the Negroes especially who need protection.
The reason for the 1876 withdrawal of federal troops from the South had been the results of the presidential election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden. A total of 185 electoral votes had been needed to win the presidency and when the votes were counted, Democrat Tilden had received 184 electoral votes and Republican Hayes had received 165. Although neither had received the necessary votes to win, there were a total of 20 disputed electoral votes that had not yet been counted. 235 If Republican Hayes received all 20 of those votes, he would become President; if Democrat Tilden received even one of those votes, then he would become President. The uncounted votes came primarily from the three disputed southern States of Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. In those three States, dual election results had been reported. One tally in Florida showed Republicans had won; the other tally showed Democrats had won; the same was true in South Carolina and Louisiana. Why were there disputed results – why two different tallies of votes? It is because in each of those three States, Democrats had been extremely active both in suppressing the black vote through violence and in altering the counts at the ballot box. One newspaper illustration depicted the type of violence that helped alter the count: a Democrat is inviting blacks to come vote, but notice that inside, an armed gunman sits waiting beside the ballot box to ensure that the black voter reaches the “right” decision. Consequently, many blacks did not even try to vote.
David Barton: We love the traditional hymns. But we want to connect with people where they are musically.