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STAUNTON, AUGUSTA Coc NTY, VA.,
- November 7th, 1867. THOMAS P. JACKSON, ESQ., . President Board Registration, Augusta County, Va.;
SIR : I have the honor to state that I forwarded a communication to the Commanding General of this District, on the 24th ultimo, in which I respectfully protested against the acceptance of the election returns of the 6th magisterial district of this county. This protest was based upon the fact that the commissioners in charge acted in direct disobedience of General Order No. 68, paragraph 12, which requires that the ballots shall be counted immediately on the closing of the polls, and the boxes sealed and forwarded to county headquarters, but on the contrary, as soon as the polls were closed, the commissioners dispersed without countifig the ballots, and the boxes were carried unsealed to the house of one of the commissioners, kept over night, the ballots counted the next day, and then brought to town still unsealed. That this was a direct violation of orders is perfectly plain, and the fact that the 6th district is the largest Republican district in the county, and the returns, as rendered by the commissioners only show four votes for me, and one hundred and, thirty-one for the Conservative candidate, looks very much like foul play.
I addressed a second communication to the Commanding General, on the 4th instant, giving full reasons for so doing, and have received no reply to either, I now desire to ascertain if you have heard anything from him on this subject ; if not I respectfully ask that you will take such action on this communication as you think justice to me demands.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BoARD OF REGISTRATION, STAUNTON, AUGUSTA County, VA., - - November 25th, 1867. Ilieutenant J. T. H. HALL, U. S. A. C. and Military Commissioner, Woodstock : LIEUTENANT : - t . . I have the honor to submit the following report on protest of Frederick S. Tukey, dated October 24, 1867. I have seen Charles Bates, Registering Officer, 6th District, New Hope, Augusta county, and Henry K. Eakle, one of the three commissioners of election, and find the facts, as set forth by Mr. F. S. Tukey in his protest, are correct. Section 12, General Order No. 68, current series, Headquarters First Military District, was infringed as follows: Ballots deposited in the box were afterwards taken therefrom and altered by the parties who had deposited them, from “ F. S. Tukey " to “George W. Gordon, Jr.” The ballots cast were not counted immediately upon the closing of the polls, but remained uncounted until the following morning, October 23, 1867. The boxes remained in charge of the registering officer, Charles Bates, from the close of the polls until the counting of the vote on the morning of the 23d October, and after the ballots were counted, in the presence of the registering officer and three commissioners, the certificates of election and ballot boxes were brought to this office, by Mr. Bates, unsealed. . For this negligence I censured Mr. Bates at the time, but as no objection was made by any one, and I had no reason to apprehend intentional omission or wrong, I accepted the returns from the 6th district, and included them in the ago, return of the vote for the county. * When the returns and boxes were received by me, I was not aware that tickets had been taken from the box after being deposited, and I find further, that the change of tickets was made by parties outside the place where the poll was held, and who were not in the interest of, or acting for, Mr. J. C. Southall, the Conservative candidate. - The ballot boxes are now sealed, in this office, but as opening them would not show anything different from the returns, and I cannot secure the attendance of the three commissioners, to be present when opened, unless authorized to call upon them, I have not made a count of the ballots cast at the 6th District, New Hope, Augusta, but will do so if you so direct. - - Very respectfully, . - . THOMAS P. JACKSON, Agent B. R., F. and A. L., and President B. of R.
PROTEST OF THE CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES FROM THE CITY OF RICHMOND, AGAINST THE CONFIRMATION OF THE PROCEEDINGS AT THE ELECTION ON THE 23D AND 24TH DAYS OF OCTOBER, 1867. -. RICHMOND, October 31, 1867. Major-General ScHoFIELD: SIR-A sense of duty to the people of Richmond who honored us with their Notes, to Our city and our State, impels us to address you this communication. To have discharged this duty at an earlier day might have subjected us to the imputation of acting under the undue excitement of a warm political canvass. Time enough has now elapsed for cool reflection; and after calmly reviewing the manner in which the recent election for delegates to the Convention was conducted in this city, we feel constrained, in the name of the people of Richmond, a law-loving and law-abiding people, respectfully, but earnestly, to enter a protest in their behalf, and in our own, against the confirmation of the proceedings at the so-called election on the 23d and 24th days of this month
We beg leave to state our reasons for entering this protest:
The election was held under your order, of date 12th September 1867, declaring that it should be held in Richmond city on the 22d and 23d days of October, and should close at sunset of the 23d October. This order, in conformity with the act of Congress, was published thirty days before the election was held. It specified the beginning and the close of the election in clear and definite terms, and after its promulgation, no power known to the statutes of Congress could legally change either the times or the places of election, without again complying with the act of Congress, and giving full thirty days’ notice of such change. A change was made without such notice. At sunset of the 23d October, the polls were not closed as required by your published order, but they were continued through the following day, and the hour of midnight was reached before the polling of votes ceased. We claim that this extension of the period of voting was irregular and illegal, without precedent in the history of popular elections in this country, and without authority, and we insist that the persons elected at the closing of the polls at sunset of the 23d October, are entitled to the return as delegates to the Convention. Fortunately there is no difficulty in ascertaining the vote as it stood then. At that time 4,773 white votes had been polled, and 4,252 black votes. Giving to the Radical ticket all the white votes they received during the whole voting—say 48—and crediting them with the entire black vote up to that time—say 4,300—they will still be found to be in the uminority several hundred votes. These protestants having then received of white votes alone (not counting the black votes), . From this exhibit it is clear that these protestants are entitled to the return as delegates to the Convention. - .
The majority claimed by the Radical ticket was in consequence of irregularities we will now mention—such irregularities, we may confidently say, as were never before permitted or known in the United States.
The voting was continued into two nights, and into one of them until midnight, and after. From sunrise to sunset, by daylight, all elections in this country have hitherto been held. The reason for this rule is obvious. The voter should vote at a time when he can be seen and recognized, and unless he votes at such time there can be no guarantee against fraud. If there was necessity or law for keeping the polls open beyond the two days prescribed in your order, we submit that they should have been kept open in the day time only.
The polls were closed at some of the wards or precincts at sunset of the second day of election, and kept open at others; and the ward at which they were kept open the longest, (till midnight, certainly of the third day), was the Ward in which the disproportion between the white and black voters in favor Of the blacks, was greater than in any other ward in the city. If kept open in One they should have been kept open in all the wards. Just here permit us to call your attention to a fact which is its own comment. From the hour of 7 o'clock, P. M., when it was dark, on the third day, to the hour of closing the polls that night, there were more black votes polled than were polled at the same place on any one of the three preceding days, although the period of voting on each day was longer, by several hours, than the time occupied on that night.
The election in Madison Ward was held at the City Hall. The whites voted at a window on one side of the building, the blacks at a window on another side of the building. About sunset of the 23d October, the second day of the election, one of the officers having charge of the election inside the building, announced that the polls were closed, and pulled down the window at which the whites voted. The white voters went away, supposing that the voting of blacks, as well as of whites, was ended at that ward. At the very moment this announcement of the closing of the polls was made, the blacks on the other side of the building were voting, and continued to vote for more than an hour afterwards. This matter was called to your attention at the time, and you checked the illegal voting by the order to close the polls for that day. During the interval, however, more than seventy black votes had been polled.
A black man offered to vote on one of the days of election. His name could not be found on the register. He came back the next day and again offered to vote. He was reminded of his rejection the day before. He admitted the fact, but said that he had been since “to Mr. Hunnicutt’s office,” and got registered; and he further stated that he had left a large number of colored people “ at Mr. Hunnicutt's office ’’ getting registered. This black was arrested for an attempt to vote illegally, and is now, as we are informed, before a Military Commission for trial. This case is specially cited to illustrate the fraudulent manner in which the election was managed.
No white man, by threat or intimidation, or otherwise, improperly interfered with any black to influence his vote. Great order prevailed among the whites during the three days voting, although many things occurred which were well calculated to excite them. But on the part of black men there was such interference with voters of their own race. Threats, intimidation, actual violence, in more than once instance, attest this fact. The blacks were not allowed the freedom of choice. They voted under a duress amounting almost to compulsion. At some of the voting places, if not at all, the tickets of the black men, while in line approaching the polls, were examined, and when one was found with a Conservative ticket in hand, the ticket was taken from him and torn up. This occurred repeatedly, as we have been informed, and verily believe. Force and violence were used by black men upon blacks, to prevent their voting the Conservative ticket. Their lives were threatened, and would have been taken in several cases, but for the interference of white men and the police. The truth is, a reign of terror ruled the black men in this election—a reign inaugurated by their own leaders and secret organizations.
A majority secured by such irregularities as these should not be regarded. They were illegal and in contravention of the law of Congress under which the election was had, and the purpose of the act of Congress should not be frustrated by such action. - .
We claim to be fairly entitled to the return as delegates to the Convention, because at the close of the polls at Sunset of the second day, we had received a majority of the votes cast, and we must respectfully insist that the return should be given to us.
If you, sir, shall take the view of the matter which we insist is the legal and right view, there can be no doubt of our title to the return; and it seems to us, with all due respect, that you are the proper person to decide this question, and to decide it now. We do not desire to be remitted to the Convention. That body, when it meets, will hardly devote time enough to the investigation of the facts, and it is unnecessary to say that we could not expect from it that cool, deliberate, and impartial hearing which your official condnct leads us to expect from yourself. Strike from the polls all illegal votes, whether illegal because not cast at the proper time, or because cast by unauthorized voters, and we believe that the majority will be largely in favor of the return of these protestants.
It is proper to say that on the night of the second day’s voting some of us had agreed on a protest against the extension of the time of voting, but the lateness of the hour at which it was prepared prevented our obtaining the signatures of all the Conservative candidates, and its being forwarded to you. After the voting on the third day and night was concluded, we thought it proper, in a matter of such grave moment, involving questions of such importance, to deliberate before entering this protest. We do so now as an act of cool, unimpassioned judgment. In taking this step, if we know ourselves, we are not stimulated by any motive of personal ambition, but are solely influenced by the desire for equal and exact justice. Our fellow-citizens, as well as we, feel aggrieved by the methods and the wrongs of the recent election, and we have, in their behalf and in our own, stated, in all frankness, the reasons for protesting against it. Hoping that it "will be your pleasure to give the return to those who, we believe, are fairly entitled to it, we have the honor, sir, to subscribe ourselves,
Your obedient servants, . THOMAS J. EVANS, ALEXANDER. H. SANDS, N. A. STURDIVANT, MARMADUKE JOHNSON, WILLIAM TAYLOR. OFFICIAf.:
J. A. CAMPBELL. 2d Lt. 5th Art’y, Brevet Lt. Col. U. S., A.;
. Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
REPLY OF MAJOR-GENERAL SCHOFIELD TO THE PROTEST OF THE CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES FROM THE CITY OF RICHMOND, AGAINST THE CONFIRMATION OF THE PROCEEDINGS AT THE ELECTION ON THE 23d AND 24th DAYS OF OCTOBER, I867. - ', . HEADQUARTERS FIRST MILITARY DISTRICT, STATE of VIRGINIA, Richmond, Va., Nov. 7, 1867. Messrs. Thos. J. Evans, Marmaduke Johnson, N. A. Sturdivant, . Alexander H. Sands and William Taylor, Richmond, Va.; GENTIEMEN : * \ - I have received your communication, dated October 31, in which you “enter a protest against the confirmation of the proceedings at the so-called election on the 23d and 24th days of October last,” and state at length the grounds of such protest. - .
The subject of your communication has received the careful consideration which its importance demands, and I will reply in that full and unreserved manner to which the dignified and dispassionate tone of your protest is entitled.
Your protest is based upon two distinct grounds: First, the extension of the time for voting beyond the hour designated in the order calling the election— which extension you regard as unauthorized and illegal; and, second, that by fraud, violence and intimidation, votes were illegally cast, and qualified voters prevented from voting the ticket of their choice. I will consider these two grounds separately.
It is only necessary to refer to sections 10 and 11 of the act of Congress of July 19, to show that ample authority existed for the extension of the time for voting, if, in my opinion, such extension was necessary, “to the end that all the intents” of the three acts of Congress might “be fully and perfectly carried out.” And what was the evident intent of so much of the act of Congress as prescribed the mode of conducting the election ? And what the reason for requiring that thirty days' notice of time and places should be given 2 Certainly, that every registered voter might have timely information and ample opportunity to cast his ballot. Had the time of voting been shortened, without due notice, then your protest would have been well founded. But can any Qualified
voter say he was deprived of his ballot by a prolongation of the time? The simple and undeniable fact was that at the hour appointed for closing the polls (sunset of the 23d,) large numbers of qualified voters had failed, from no fault of their own, to cast their ballots, and were patiently waiting at the polls. Suppose I had closed the polls at sunset of the 23d, and thus deprived several hundred suffragans of their right to vote, would that have been a liberal construc
tion of the acts of Congress, fully and perfectly carrying out the intents thereof P - .
Waiving technicalities of law, what is the essence of the principle upon which your claim is based, that the voting at an election must be limited to the time originally specified? I believe it may be fairly stated thus—“ That party is entitled to the victory which can poll the greatest number of votes in a given number of hours.” I will not do you so great injustice as to suppose that you intended to announce such a principle as the basis of your protest. Your own laws (see Virginia Code of 1860, page 82,) wisely guard against such a wrong, by requiring that if the votes cannot all be polled before sunset, or if the voters are prevented from attending by rain or rise of water courses, the polls shall be