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1876 South Carolina gubernatorial election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1876 South Carolina gubernatorial election

← 1874 November 7, 1876 1878 →
Wade Hampton (cropped).jpg
Daniel Henry Chamberlain (cropped).jpg
Nominee Wade Hampton III Daniel Henry Chamberlain
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 92,261 91,127
Percentage 50.3% 49.1%

County Results

Hampton III:      50–54%      55–59%      60–64%      >65%

Chamberlain:      50–54%      55–59%      60–64%      >65%

Governor before election

Daniel Henry Chamberlain

Elected Governor

Wade Hampton III

The 1876 South Carolina gubernatorial election was held on November 7, 1876 to select the governor of the state of South Carolina. The election campaign was a referendum on the Radical Republican-led state government and their Reconstruction policies. Opponents disputed the challenger Wade Hampton III's victory, gained by a margin of little more than 1100 votes statewide. But he took office in April 1877, after President Hayes withdrew federal troops as a result of a national Democratic compromise, and the incumbent Daniel Henry Chamberlain left the state.

Governor Chamberlain had been unable to preserve the peace in the months beforehand, reducing support for Republicans as the Red Shirts, a white Democratic paramilitary group, attacked Republican blacks in numerous areas of the state, particularly the Piedmont, in violent incidents including the Hamburg Massacre, and riots at Ellenton and Cainhoy. Under this pressure, some blacks were discouraged from voting altogether; others had aligned with Democrats for a variety of reasons. White voters overwhelmingly supported the Democratic ticket in November. The turbulent atmosphere ended before election day, which was peaceful.

Democrat Wade Hampton narrowly won with slightly more than 1100 votes statewide following the suppression of black voters, particularly in Edgefield County. The election was disputed and a prolonged contest ensued as both parties established separate governments. Chamberlain lost most of his support and in early 1877 was kept in office by Federal troops guarding the state capitol. When President Rutherford B. Hayes ordered the troops to stand down, Chamberlain left the state and Hampton was confirmed as the 77th governor of South Carolina.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Reconstruction and 1876: Crash Course US History #22
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  • ✪ Colfax massacre | Wikipedia audio article


Episode 21: Reconstruction Hi, I’m John Green, this is Crash Course U.S. History and huzzah! The Civil War is over! The slaves are free! Huzzah! That one hit me in the head? It’s very dangerous, Crash Course. So when you say, “Don’t aim at a person,” that includes myself? The roller coaster only goes up from here, my friends. Huzzah! Mr. Green, Mr. Green, what about the epic failure of Reconstruction? Oh, right. Stupid Reconstruction always ruining everything intro So after the Civil War ended, the United States had to reintegrate both a formerly slave population and a formerly rebellious population back into the country, which is a challenge that we might’ve met, except Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and we were left with Andrew “I am the Third Worst President Ever” Johnson. I’m sorry, Abe, but you don’t get to be in the show anymore. So, Lincoln’s whole post-war idea was to facilitate reunion and reconciliation, and Andrew Johnson’s guiding Reconstruction principle was that the South never had a right to secede in the first place. Also, because he was himself a Southerner, he resented all the elites in the South who had snubbed him, AND he was also a racist who didn’t think that blacks should have any role in Reconstruction. TRIFECTA! So between 1865 and 1867, the so-called period of Presidential Reconstruction, Johnson appointed provisional governors and ordered them to call state conventions to establish new all-white governments. And in their 100% whiteness and oppression of former slaves, those new governments looked suspiciously like the old confederate governments they had replaced. And what was changing for the former slaves? Well, in some ways, a lot. Like, Fiske and Howard universities were established, as well as many primary and secondary schools, thanks in part to The Freedman’s Bureau, which only lasted until 1870, but had the power to divide up confiscated and abandoned confederate land for former slaves. And this was very important because to most slaves, land ownership was the key to freedom, and many felt like they’d been promised land by the Union Army. Like, General Sherman’s Field Order 15, promised to distribute land in 40 acre plots to former slaves. But that didn’t happen, either through the Freedman’s Bureau or anywhere else. Instead, President Johnson ordered all land returned to its former owners. So the South remained largely agricultural with the same people owning the same land, and in the end, we ended up with sharecropping. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. The system of sharecropping replaced slavery in many places throughout the South. Landowners would provide housing to the sharecroppers--no, Thought Bubble, not quite that nice. There ya go--also tools and seed, and then the sharecroppers received, get this, a share of their crop--usually between a third and a half, with the price for that harvest often set by the landowner. Freed blacks got to control their work, and plantation owners got a steady workforce that couldn’t easily leave, because they had little opportunity to save money and make the big capital investments in, like, land or tools. By the late 1860s, poor white farmers were sharecropping as well--in fact, by the Great Depression, most sharecroppers were white. And while sharecropping certainly wasn’t slavery, it did result in a quasi-serfdom that tied workers to land they didn’t own--more or less the opposite of Jefferson’s ideal of the small, independent farmer. So, the Republicans in Congress weren’t happy that this reconstructed south looked so much like the pre-Civil War south, so they took the lead in reconstruction after 1867. Radical Republicans felt the war had been fought for equal rights and wanted to see the powers of the national government expanded. Few were as radical as Thaddeus “Tommy Lee Jones” Stephens who wanted to take away land from the Southern planters and give it to the former slaves, but rank-and-file Republicans were radical enough to pass the Civil Rights Bill, which defined persons born in the United States as citizens and established nationwide equality before the law regardless of race. Andrew Johnson immediately vetoed the law, claiming that trying to protect the rights of African Americans amounted to discrimination against white people, which so infuriated Republicans that Congress did something it had never done before in all of American history. They overrode the Presidential veto with a 2/3rds majority and the Civil Rights Act became law. So then Congress really had its dander up and decided to amend the Constitution with the 14th amendment, which defines citizenship, guarantees equal protection, and extends the rights in the Bill of Rights to all the states (sort of). The amendment had almost no Democratic support, but it also didn’t need any, because there were almost no Democrats in Congress on account of how Congress had refused to seat the representatives from the “new” all-white governments that Johnson supported. And that’s how we got the 14th amendment, arguably the most important in the whole Constitution. Thanks, Thought Bubble. Oh, straight to the mystery document today? Alright. The rules here are simple. I guess the author of the Mystery Document and try not to get shocked. Alright let’s see what we’ve got today. Sec. 1. Be it ordained by the police jury of the parish of St. Landry, That no negro shall be allowed to pass within the limits of said parish without special permit in writing from his employer. Sec. 4. . . . Every negro is required to be in the regular service of some white person, or former owner, who shall be held responsible for the conduct of said negro.. Sec. 6. . . . No negro shall be permitted to preach, exhort, or otherwise declaim to congregations of colored people, without a special permission in writing from the president of the police jury. . . . Gee, Stan, I wonder if the President of the Police Jury was white. I actually know this one. It is a Black Code, which was basically legal codes where they just replaced the word “slave” with the word “negro.” And this code shows just how unwilling white governments were to ensure the rights of new, free citizens. I would celebrate not getting shocked, but now I am depressed. So, okay, in 1867, again over Johnson’s veto, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act, which divided the south into 5 military districts and required each state to create a new government, one that included participation of black men. Those new governments had to ratify the 14th amendment if they wanted to get back into the union. Radical Reconstruction had begun. So, in 1868, Andrew Johnson was about as electable in the U.S. as Jefferson Davis, and sure enough he didn’t win. Instead, the 1868 election was won by Republican and former Union general Ulysses S. Grant. But Grant’s margin of victory was small enough that Republicans were like, “Man, we would sure win more elections if black people could vote.” Which is something you hear Republicans say all the time these days. So Congressional Republicans pushed the 15th Amendment, which prohibited states from denying men the right to vote based on race, but not based on gender or literacy or whether your grandfather could vote. So states ended up with a lot of leeway when it came to denying the franchise to African Americans, which of course they did. So here we have the federal government dictating who can vote, and who is and isn’t a citizen of a state, and establishing equality under the law--even local laws. And this is a really big deal in American history, because the national government became, rather than a threat to individual liberty, “the custodian of freedom,” as Radical Republican Charles Sumner put it. So but with this legal protection, former slaves began to exercise their rights. They participated in the political process by direct action, such as staging sit-ins to integrate street-cars, by voting in elections, and by holding office. Most African Americans were Republicans at the time, and because they could vote and were a large part of the population, the Republican party came to dominate politics in the South, just like today, except totally different. Now, Southern mythology about the age of radical Reconstruction is exemplified by Gone with the Wind, which of course tells the story of northern Republican dominance and corruption by southern Republicans. Fortune seeking northern carpetbaggers, seen here, as well as southern turncoat scalawags dominated politics and all of the African American elected leaders were either corrupt or puppets or both. Yeah, well, like the rest of Gone with the Wind, that’s a bit of an oversimplification. There were about 2,000 African Americans who held office during Reconstruction, and the vast majority of them were not corrupt. Consider for example the not-corrupt and amazingly-named Pinckney B.S. Pinchback, who from 1872 to 1873 served very briefly in Louisiana as America’s first black governor. And went on to be a senator and a member of the House of Representatives. By the way, America’s second African American governor, Douglas Wilder of Virginia was elected in 1989. Having African American officeholders was a huge step forward in term of ensuring the rights of African Americans because it meant that there would be black juries and less discrimination in state and local governments when it came to providing basic services. But in the end, Republican governments failed in the South. There were important achievements, especially a school system that, while segregated, did attempt to educate both black and white children. And even more importantly, they created a functioning government where both white and African American citizens could participate. According to one white South Carolina lawyer, “We have gone through one of the most remarkable changes in our relations to each other that has been known, perhaps, in the history of the world.” That’s a little hyperbolic, but we are America after all. (libertage) It’s true that corruption was widespread, but it was in the North, too. I mean, we’re talking about governments. And that’s not why Reconstruction really ended: It ended because 1. things like schools and road repair cost money, which meant taxes, which made Republican governments very unpopular because Americans hate taxes, and 2. White southerners could not accept African Americans exercising basic civil rights, holding office or voting. And for many, the best way to return things to the way they were before reconstruction was through violence. Especially after 1867, much of the violence directed toward African Americans in the South was politically motivated. The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1866 and it quickly became a terrorist organization, targeting Republicans, both black and white, beating and murdering men and women in order to intimidate them and keep them from voting. The worst act of violence was probably the massacre at Colfax, Louisiana where hundreds of former slaves were murdered. And between intimidation and emerging discriminatory voting laws, fewer black men voted, which allowed white Democrats to take control of state governments in the south, and returned white Democratic congressional delegations to Washington. These white southern politicians called themselves “Redeemers” because they claimed to have redeemed the south from northern republican corruption and black rule. Now, it’s likely that the South would have fallen back into Democratic hands eventually, but the process was aided by Northern Republicans losing interest in Reconstruction. In 1873, the U.S. fell into yet another not-quite-Great economic depression and northerners lost the stomach to fight for the rights of black people in the south, which in addition to being hard was expensive. So by 1876 the supporters of reconstruction were in full retreat and the Democrats were resurgent, especially in the south. And this set up one of the most contentious elections in American history. The Democrats nominated New York Governor (and NYU Law School graduate) Samuel Tilden. The Republicans chose Ohio governor (and Kenyon College alumnus) Rutherford B. Hayes. One man who’d gone to Crash Course writer Raoul Meyer’s law school. And another who’d gone to my college, Kenyon. Now, if the election had been based on facial hair, as elections should be, there would’ve been no controversy, but sadly we have an electoral college here in the United States, and in 1876 there were disputed electoral votes in South Carolina, Louisiana, and, of course, Florida. Now you might remember that in these situations, there is a constitutional provision that says Congress should decide the winner, but Congress, shockingly, proved unable to accomplish something. So they appointed a 15 man Electoral Commission--a Super-Committee, if you will. And there were 8 Republicans on that committee and 7 Democrats, so you will never guess who won. Kenyon College’s own Rutherford B. Hayes. Go Lords and Ladies! And yes, that is our mascot. Shut up. Anyway in order to get the Presidency and win the support of the supercommittee, Hayes’ people agreed to cede control of the South to the Democrats and to stop meddling in Southern affairs and also to build a transcontinental railroad through Texas. This is called the Bargain of 1877 because historians are so good at naming things and it basically killed Reconstruction. Without any more federal troops in Southern states and with control of Southern legislatures firmly in the hands of white democrats the states were free to go back to restricting the freedom of black people, which they did. Legislatures passed Jim Crow laws that limited African American’s access to public accommodations and legal protections. States passed laws that took away black people’s right to vote and social and economic mobility among African Americans in the south declined precipitously. However, for a brief moment, the United States was more democratic than it had ever been before. And an entire segment of the population that had no impact on politics before was now allowed to participate. And for the freedmen who lived through it, that was a monumental change, and it would echo down to the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, sometimes called the second reconstruction. But we’re gonna end this episode on a downer, as we are wont to do here at Crash Course US History because I want to point out a lesser-known legacy of Reconstruction. The Reconstruction amendments and laws that were passed granted former slaves political freedom and rights, especially the vote, and that was critical. But to give them what they really wanted and needed, plots of land that would make them economically independent, would have required confiscation, and that violation of property rights was too much for all but the most radical Republicans. And that question of what it really means to be “free” in a system of free market capitalism has proven very complicated indeed. I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan Muller. Our script supervisor is Meredith Danko. The associate producer is Danica Johnson. The show is written by my high school history teacher, Raoul Meyer, and myself. And our graphics team is Thought Café. Every week there’s a new caption for the libertage. You can suggest those in comments where you can also ask questions about today’s video that will be answered by our team of historians. Thank you for watching Crash Course. Don’t forget to subscribe. And as we say in my hometown, don’t forget to be awesome. reconstruction -



South Carolina entered 1876 having had eight years of Radical Republican rule. Whites had resisted social and political changes after the war, and believed that the Reconstruction programs set up by the Republicans were used by corrupt politicians and carpetbaggers to their financial benefit. At the same time, many whites were angered by the passage of 13th, 14th, 15th amendments which guaranteed citizenship rights to former slaves. Former Confederates were not allowed to vote or hold office for several years until the passage of the Amnesty Act in 1872. Following that, Southern Democrats ran for office and sought to regain political control of the state. The elections were seasons of violence by white paramilitary groups against blacks to disrupt Republican meetings and reduce their vote. In scattered localities some blacks broke with the Republicans and joined the Hampton forces.[1]

But, most blacks remained steadfastly loyal to the Republican Party. After the end of the Civil War, many whites had conducted a decade-long insurgency to maintain white supremacy and suppress black political power. Black citizens, however, constituted a sizable majority of the electorate, particularly in the Low Country and with narrow majorities in several Piedmont counties. The state Democratic Party was unorganized, not having contested a state election since 1868, when it was utterly defeated by the Republicans.

The Democratic Party also divided on a strategy for contesting the general election. Most Democrats heading into the May convention decided to not oppose the governorship and other state offices because Governor Daniel Henry Chamberlain had implemented many favorable reforms. Known as fusionists, they also felt that any effort spent on state offices would be wasted and better served by trying to acquire a majority in the General Assembly.

The more ardent Democrats, called the "Straightout Democrats", gained strength after the General Assembly elected former Governor Franklin J. Moses Jr. and William Whipper to circuit judgeships, as they were considered corrupt. The nominations were blocked by Governor Chamberlain, but the Straightouts believed that meaningful political reform would happen only when Democrats gained power. In their opinion, every race from governor to coroner had to be contested.

Democratic conventions

May convention

A reinvigorated South Carolina Democratic Party convened in Columbia from May 4 to May 5. Its purpose was to select 14 delegates and alternates to the National Democratic Convention in St. Louis and state the policies of the party. However, the party remained divided between the Fusionists and the Straightouts as to whether run a state ticket or not.

The debate continued through the summer between the two as to which approach would be best for the Democratic Party. The Hamburg Massacre in July, although limited in fatalities compared to the total from later incidents at Ellenton, Charleston and Cainhoy, persuaded many whites that Governor Chamberlain's administration was unable to maintain order. In most of these events, blacks were killed in much greater number than whites, particularly at Ellenton. Populist Democrats ended hopes of supporting fusion with the Republicans, and the Straighouts became the dominant force within the Democratic Party.

Wade Hampton III during the Civil War
Wade Hampton III during the Civil War

August convention

The Democrats reconvened in Columbia for the nominating convention held on August 15 through August 17. Since the Republicans had yet to meet, the candidacy of Governor Chamberlain was uncertain, which also undermined the Fusionists. Straightouts had been rallied by the assertion of white supremacy by white paramilitary groups of Red Shirts, who killed seven blacks in Hamburg, five of them murdered outright while held as prisoner by whites. One white died in the confrontation. The first test of Straightout strength in the Democratic Party was the election of the President of the Convention. By a vote of 80 to 66, the Straightout candidate was elected and after a secret session, the nomination process began.

Matthew Butler nominated Wade Hampton for the post of governor and the delegates unanimously approved the nomination by acclamation. Wade Hampton, although a supporter of the Straightouts, had a moderate reputation that enabled him to unite the two factions of the party and attract some black voters. The Democrats recruited blacks to the Red Shirts paramilitary groups and presented them prominently in public parade.[2]

The Democratic platform that emerged from the convention was vague and noncommittal to specifics. Pledges were made to restore order, reform the government, and lower taxes, but no specific policies were formulated. The Straightouts knew that only a consensus of general ideas would unite the party and enable election of Democrats to statewide offices.

Republican conventions

A group of prominent South Carolina Republicans, notably Senator John J. Patterson and Robert B. Elliott, organized an opposition to Governor Chamberlain prior to the state convention. The group was upset by the reforms enacted by the Governor, especially the removal of corrupt Republicans from positions and replacing them with Democrats. The goal was to weaken Governor Chamberlain enough so that he would be removed from the ticket in November or forced to make favorable concessions.

April convention

The Republicans gathered in Columbia from April 12 to April 14 for the state convention to nominate 14 delegates to the National Republican Convention in Cincinnati. Those in opposition of Governor Chamberlain first succeeded in winning control of the temporary chairmanship for the convention when their candidate defeated the Governor by a vote of 80 to 40.

Having achieved effective control of the convention, the opposition to Governor Chamberlain proceeded to select delegates to the national convention with the purpose of excluding the governor from the delegation. However, the convention descended into chaos between those in support of the governor and those in opposition. An inkstand was thrown at the head of a delegate and a chair was raised above Governor Chamberlain with the intention of striking him.[3]

Governor Chamberlain responded with a powerful diatribe of those opposing him by accusing them of siding with the Ku Klux Klan. He then reaffirmed his loyalty to the Republican Party and its platform and explained that his actions in office were meant to serve the Party. Most delegates were convinced of the Governor's sincerity, and he was elected as a delegate-at-large to the national convention by a vote of 89 to 32.

September convention

Republican nomination for Governor
Candidate Votes %
Daniel Henry Chamberlain 88 71.6
Thomas C. Dunn 32 26.0
D.T. Corbin 2 1.6
Robert B. Elliott 1 0.8

Worried by his support among Republicans, Governor Chamberlain canvassed several counties of the state. Accompanied by Republicans held in low esteem by the white community, the meetings were often disrupted by Democrats. However, the growing strength and militancy of the Democrats served the purpose of reducing the opposition to Chamberlain within the Republican Party.

When the Republicans met for the nominating convention in Columbia on September 13 through September 15, Governor Chamberlain was renominated with little difficulty. However, those opposed to Chamberlain sought to compensate for their defeat by adding themselves to the ticket. Robert B. Elliott became the nominee for attorney general and Thomas C. Dunn the nominee for comptroller general.

Both had been very vocal in their opposition to Chamberlain and Elliott was notorious for corruption and his belief of black supremacy. After the election, Chamberlain regretted the inclusion of Elliott on the ticket and thought that Elliott's removal should have been the condition for his acceptance as nominee for governor.[4]

The platform adopted by the Republicans contained many specific and innovative proposals that were to be effected either as amendments to the state constitution or through legislative action:

  • Ban government funds from being given to religious organizations.
  • A permanent tax to support public schools.
  • Tort reform.
  • Repeal of the agriculture lien law.
  • Use of convict labor.
  • Require cattle owners to fence their land.

The results of the convention for the Republicans were mixed; on one hand, the party emerged united from their convention for the first time since 1868, but it came with a heavy price as the more moderate black and white members of the party switched to support Hampton and the Democrats.

General election

Democratic campaign

Historian Richard Zuczek writes: "the 1876 gubernatorial campaign in the Palmetto State was really a military operation, complete with armies, commanders, and bloodshed. Indeed, South Carolina might be a classic case of insurgency, with an attempt to overthrow, by terrorism and violence, a standing government."[5]

The Democratic strategy for the election was twofold; Wade Hampton was to attract moderate voters by appearing as a senior statesman. His chief lieutenant, Martin Gary, was to implement the Mississippi Plan in South Carolina. Known as the Shotgun Policy in South Carolina, the Mississippi Plan called for the bribery or intimidation of black voters. Financial enticements were given to blacks who supported the Democrats, and violence was waged on others in order to convince them to join a Democratic club for protection.

The first step of the Democratic campaign was to set up clubs to organize its members; the more militant Democrats were organized into the rifle clubs whereas the red shirt clubs were arranged to intimidate black voters through violence and intimidation. By election day, the Democrats had enrolled almost every white man not associated with the Republican party into a club and set up several clubs for blacks.

Supporters of the Democratic Party often wore red shirts in response to an apocryphal story about Oliver Morton's waving the bloody shirt in Congress that was caused by KKK violence to maintain support in the North for Reconstruction of the South.[6] They would often parade through towns on horseback such as to give an impression of greater numbers and shouted "Hurrah for Hampton" as their slogan. These demonstrations served several purposes for the Democrats: they brought together whites, frightened black and white Republicans.

Another important aspect of the Mississippi Plan put into effect was the disruption of Republican meetings and the demanding of equal time. The campaign device was called "dividing time" and it proved to be one of the more useful techniques employed by the Democrats in the campaign for three reasons: the strong show of force intimidated the black voters; it terrified Republican candidates and disgraced them in front of the blacks; and because most black voters were illiterate, it was the only possible way for the Democrats to reach them with their arguments since the newspapers were useless as they could not be read. The violence toward Republicans had gotten so bad that the state Democratic committee had to warn its members that the purpose was to attract black voters and not to terrorize them.[7]

An unofficial policy employed by the whites, yet equally effective as the others, was "preference, not proscription." Basically, blacks who espoused support for the Democrats were given a certificate that allowed for them to have priority in employment and trade. The device was not used on the farms because the contracts lasted until January, but it instead wreaked havoc among the black artisans in the urban areas. The state Democratic committee never endorsed the tactic, and Hampton urged its ending after the end of the campaign.[8]

Poole argues that in waging its campaign Democrats portrayed the Lost Cause motif through "Hampton Days" celebrations shouting "Hampton or Hell!". They staged the contest between Hampton and governor Chamberlain as a religious struggle between good and evil, and calling for "redemption."[9] Indeed, throughout the South the conservatives who overthrew Reconstruction were often called "Redeemers", echoing Christian theology.[10]

Ronald F. King, used modern statistical techniques on the election returns and concludes: "Application of social science methodology to the gubernatorial election of 1876 in South Carolina confirms charges of fraud raised by Republicans at the time of the election.... [the result] was the product of massive voter fraud and intimidation of black voters." [11]

Democratic black vote

Democrats recognized the black majority in the state and realized that the only way for them to win the election was through violent suppression of black voters or intimidating black voters to vote Democratic. This was a tricky problem for the party because they were known for upholding slavery and introducing the black codes. Furthermore, it angered many blacks that a former slave trader, Joe Crews, was elected as a Republican to the General Assembly.[12]

Those blacks enticed to join and vote for the Democratic Party were attracted to the paternalistic, moderate appeal of Wade Hampton.[13] While the vast majority of violence targeted Black Republicans, some black Democrats often faced ostracism from the black community: the daughter of a black Democrat was whipped at school for her father's support of Hampton.[14]

Republican campaign

The entirety of the Republican campaign for the general election in November was based on maintaining the black vote. There was little campaigning by Republican candidates and one of Governor Chamberlain's newspapers, Columbia Daily Union-Herald, noted that "Public meetings are not necessary to arouse the Republicans, nor to inform them. On the day of election nine-tenths of them could be directed to cast their ballots at one poll, if necessary."[15]

Election results

The general election was held on November 7, 1876, and there were few instances of disturbance. At each polling place, there were federal supervisors from both the Democratic and Republican parties. Federal troops were also stationed at the county seats to preserve the peace at the polling places if needed, but they were never called upon.

As the results were coming in on Wednesday morning, it appeared that Chamberlain would win, but Hampton had taken a very narrow lead by Thursday. Hampton claimed victory with slightly more than an 1100-vote margin statewide. Chamberlain and the Republicans disputed the victory, based on widespread fraud and intimidation by Democrats. In Aiken County, where the Hamburg Massacre had occurred, Republican votes dropped to less than 100, but "Democratic votes quadrupled."[16] The total vote in Edgefield exceeded the total voting age population by more than 2,000 and Republican votes were suppressed.[16] In Laurens County, the votes also exceeded the total number of registered voters.[17]

When the Republican-dominated Board of State Canvassars met after the election to certify the results, they did not certify the election results from Edgefield and Laurens counties. They were ordered by the state supreme court to certify all the results. But, effectively, the results from those counties were thrown out. The state supreme court held the board members in contempt of court and placed them in the Richland County jail. A federal judge annulled the order of the state supreme court and issued a writ of habeas corpus in favor of the board members.

In the morning of November 28, prior to the convening of the General Assembly, Chamberlain ordered two companies of federal troops under the command of General Thomas H. Ruger to the State House. This action was approved by President Ulysses S. Grant on November 26 in order to prevent a violent takeover by the Democrats and to block admission by Democratic members from the disputed Edgefield and Laurens counties.

The Democrats left the General Assembly en masse to set up a rival legislature at Carolina Hall, complete with representatives who had been excluded by the Republicans. In control of the government and backed by the support of federal troops, the Republicans discarded the election returns from Edgefield and Laurens counties for the gubernatorial race and declared Chamberlain elected for a second term on December 5.

Republican count for the South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, 1876
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Daniel Henry Chamberlain 86,216 50.9
Democratic Wade Hampton III 83,071 49.1

The Democrats derided the installation of Chamberlain as governor by the Republicans and on December 14, they declared Hampton Governor of South Carolina. They included returns from Edgefield and Laurens counties in their tally, which meant out of 184,943 registered voters in 1875, only 555 voters did not cast a ballot in the election. The results as declared by the Democrats held up to be the official results of the election when Hampton became the sole governor on April 11, 1877.

South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, 1876
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Wade Hampton III 92,261 50.3 +50.3
Republican Daniel Henry Chamberlain 91,127 49.7 -4.2
Majority 1,134 0.6 -7.2
Turnout 183,388 99.2
Democratic gain from Republican

County results

County Hampton Chamberlain
Votes % Votes %
Abbeville 3,852 51.2 3,669 48.8
Aiken 3,221 56.4 2,495 43.6
Anderson 4,155 78.7 1,124 21.3
Barnwell 3,956 58.7 2,778 41.3
Beaufort 2,274 23.0 7,604 77.0
Charleston 8,809 36.9 15,032 63.1
Chester 2,005 45.5 2,404 54.5
Chesterfield 1,631 62.3 985 37.7
Clarendon 1,436 43.3 1,881 56.7
Colleton 2,984 41.8 4,163 58.2
Darlington 2,752 44.0 3,507 56.0
Edgefield 6,267 66.9 3,107 33.1
Fairfield 2,159 43.3 2,832 56.7
Georgetown 1,058 27.5 2,787 72.5
Greenville 4,172 70.7 1,729 29.3
Horry 1,939 76.7 588 23.3
Kershaw 1,757 46.0 2,063 54.0
Lancaster 1,541 55.5 1,236 44.5
Laurens 2,916 61.8 1,804 38.2
Lexington 2,129 62.9 1,256 37.1
Marion 3,149 55.8 2,492 44.2
Marlboro 1,945 54.7 1,608 45.3
Newberry 2,196 44.3 2,761 55.7
Oconee 2,083 79.9 524 20.1
Orangeburg 2,870 39.1 4,469 60.9
Pickens 2,002 83.1 406 16.9
Richland 2,435 38.7 3,857 61.3
Spartanburg 4,677 76.1 1,467 23.9
Sumter 2,382 38.2 3,859 61.8
Union 2,519 59.0 1,750 41.0
Williamsburg 1,757 41.8 2,443 58.2
York 3,233 56.9 2,447 43.1

Dual governors

Hampton quickly organized his government and made a request to South Carolinians to refuse to pay taxes to the Chamberlain government. To support the Hampton government, each taxpayer was asked to contribute just 10% of what his tax bill had been the previous year. [18] South Carolinians, both white and black, paid taxes to the Hampton government and refused to pay taxes to the Chamberlain government, thereby denying the Chamberlain government its last legitimacy and authority apart from the U.S. Army.[19]

After the resolution 1876 presidential election in favor of Rutherford B. Hayes, both Chamberlain and Hampton traveled to Washington to discuss with the new president regarding the situation in South Carolina. President Hayes realized that only a massive reintroduction of federal troops would enable Chamberlain to continue as governor and thus ordered on April 3, 1877, for the removal of federal troops from South Carolina. The departure of Federal troops on April 10 caused Governor Chamberlain and the Republican-led government to concede the election to Wade Hampton. A day later on April 11, Hampton became the sole and official governor of the state of South Carolina.




  • January 6 – Meeting of the Democratic State Committee to reorganize and agree to prepare for the Democratic convention in May.
  • April 12–April 14 – Republicans held a state convention in Columbia to elect delegates to the National Convention in Cincinnati.
  • May 4–May 5 – Democrats held a state convention in Columbia to elect delegates to the National Convention in St. Louis.
  • July 8 – In the Hamburg Massacre in Aiken County, following arguments over a black National Guard parade on Independence Day, white paramilitary groups came to the black-majority town, where they killed 6 blacks, 4 while held as prisoners. One white died in an exchange of gunfire at the armory.
  • August 15–August 17 – Democratic convention in Columbia adopted a platform and selected Wade Hampton as their nominee for governor in the general election.
  • September 6 – Following a Democratic meeting in Charleston with a black speaker, a white fired above a black crowd, attracting more black Republicans, and a fight ensued, quickly increasing in size. In the riot, black Republicans injured 12 whites; the one white death is attributed to a mistaken shot by a white man.[16]
  • September 13–September 15 – Republican nominating convention met in Columbia and selected Governor Chamberlain as their nominee for governor in the general election.
  • September 16–September 19 – Extended acts of violence at Ellenton in Aiken County, where 500-600 white paramilitary came from Columbia County, Georgia; 1 white is killed and 40-100 blacks.[20]
  • October 4 – Governor Chamberlain signed a document stating that he had no effective control of state government and was entirely dependent upon Federal troops. He threatened to use the soldiers to bring economic damage to the state if he was not elected Governor of South Carolina.[21]
  • October 7 – Governor Chamberlain institutes martial law in Barnwell and Edgefield counties; he ordered the rifle clubs to disperse and forbids any unorganized militias.
  • October 16 – At a "joint discussion meeting" near Cainhoy, organized by Republicans and Democrats in black-majority Charleston County, whites find hidden black arms and kill 1 black man. Black Republicans go to their hidden arms (rifles and shotguns) and attack the white men, who were armed with pistols as they retreated to their steamboat. Republicans killed 6 whites and injured 16. It was the only such incident in which more whites than blacks were killed.[16]
  • October 17
  • October 23 – A black mob laid siege to the town of Mt. Pleasant for the night, forcing the white citizens into a single house. The mob left in the morning threatening to return and kill everyone in the town.[citation needed]
  • November 7 – Election day.
  • November 8 – Black Republicans attacked whites on Broad Street in Charleston when somebody yelled incorrectly that white Republican leader Edmund W.M. Mackey had been killed. In the altercation, 1 white was killed and 12 were wounded; 1 black was killed and 11 were wounded.[citation needed]
  • November 22 – State Board of Canvassers throws out the results from Edgefield and Laurens counties.
  • November 28 – Governor Chamberlain orders Federal troops to occupy the State House to prevent the recently elected Democrats in the House of Representatives from taking power. The Democratic members left the State House and organized at Carolina Hall.
  • November 30 – The Democratic legislators returned to the State House and assumed leadership of the House of Representatives. However, the Republican members threatened violence and the Democratic members left the chamber.[citation needed]
  • December 3 – The Republican House of Representatives planned to eject the Democratic members from Edgefield and Laurens counties through the use of force by the black "Hunkidori Club" in Charleston. The plot was discovered by the Democrats and more than 5,000 white men from all over South Carolina assembled in Columbia to prevent the removal of the members.[citation needed]
  • December 4 – The Democrats adjourned and left the State House, returning to Carolina Hall in order to prevent bloodshed.
  • December 5 – Republican led General Assembly elects Chamberlain as governor.
  • December 6 – South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the Democrat, William H. Wallace, was the legally elected Speaker of the House. The commander of the Federal troops in the State House declared that he would ignore the decision of the Supreme Court and exclude the Democratic members from the House.[citation needed]
  • December 7 – Governor Chamberlain inaugurated as the Governor of South Carolina for a second term.
  • December 14 – The Democratic legislators tabulated the votes and declared Wade Hampton Governor of South Carolina by 1100 votes. He took the oath of office for governor and was inaugurated on the same day.
  • December 20 – Governor Chamberlain issues a pardon for Peter Smith at the State penitentiary. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled on appeal that Governor Chamberlain was not the legally elected Governor of South Carolina and therefore not entitled to the powers of the office.
  • December 22 – The Republican led General Assembly adjourned.
  • December 29 – Senator John Brown Gordon of Georgia proposed a resolution in the US Senate to declare Wade Hampton III as the lawful Governor of South Carolina.


  • January 17 – Senator John J. Patterson of South Carolina replied to the resolution of Senator Gordon by submitting papers that Governor Chamberlain was the legally elected Governor of South Carolina.
  • February 9 – Governor Hampton issues a pardon for Tilda Norris, but the superintendent of the state penitentiary refuses to recognize Hampton as governor and does not release her.
  • February 20 – President Grant orders for there to be no parades of the rifle clubs in honor of George Washington's birthday on February 22.
  • March 7 – The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that Wade Hampton III was the legally elected governor of South Carolina and was entitled to the powers of the office. After the ruling, Tilda Norris was released.
  • March 31 – Hampton and Chamberlain meet with President Rutherford B. Hayes to discuss the situation in South Carolina.
  • April 3 – President Hayes orders the removal of Federal troops from South Carolina.
  • April 10 – Federal troops leave the State House and return to their barracks.
  • April 11 – At noon, Wade Hampton becomes the sole and official Governor of South Carolina.

See also


  1. ^ Drago, p66
  2. ^ Drago, p8
  3. ^ Reynolds, p363
  4. ^ Reynolds, p367
  5. ^ Richard Zuczek, "The last campaign of the Civil War: South Carolina and the revolution of 1876." Civil War History 42.1 (1996): 18-31. online
  6. ^ Drago, p9
  7. ^ Jarrell, p68
  8. ^ Jarrell, p70
  9. ^ W. Scott Poole, "Religion, Gender, and the Lost Cause in South Carolina's 1876 Governor's Race: 'Hampton or Hell!'", Journal of Southern History, Aug 2002, Vol. 68 Issue 3, pp 573-98
  10. ^ Stephen E. Cresswell, Rednecks, redeemers, and race: Mississippi after Reconstruction (2006)
  11. ^ Ronald F. King, "Counting the Votes: South Carolina's Stolen Election of 1876" Journal of Interdisciplinary History (Autumn 2001), Vol. 32 Issue 2, pp 169-191.
  12. ^ Drago, p35
  13. ^ Drago, p29
  14. ^ Drago, p42
  15. ^ Reynolds, p374
  16. ^ a b c d Melinda Meeks Hennessy, "Racial Violence During Reconstruction: The 1876 Riots in Charleston and Cainhoy", South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 86, No. 2, (April 1985), 104-106 (subscription required)
  17. ^ Edgar, p404
  18. ^ Walter Brian Cisco, "Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior, Conservative Statesman," Potomac Books, Inc., Washington, D.C., 2004, p. 259
  19. ^ Walter Edgar, '"South Carolina: A History p 405
  20. ^ Mark M. Smith, "'All Is Not Quiet in Our Hellish County’: Facts, Fiction, Politics, and Race – The Ellenton Riot of 1876," South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 95, No. 2 (April 1994), 142-155 (subscription required)
  21. ^ Reynolds, p444


  • Drago, Edmund L. (1998). Hurrah for Hampton!: Black Red Shirts in South Carolina during Reconstruction. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 1-55728-541-1.
  • Edgar, Walter (1998). South Carolina A History. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 1-57003-255-6.
  • Holt, Thomas (1979). Black over White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina during Reconstruction. University of Illinois Press. pp. 173–207. ISBN 0-252-00775-1.
  • King, Ronald F. "Counting the Votes: South Carolina's Stolen Election of 1876" Journal of Interdisciplinary History (Autumn 2001), Vol. 32 Issue 2, pp 169-191. online
  • Jarrell, Hampton M. (1969). Wade Hampton and the Negro. University of South Carolina Press.
  • Poole, W. Scott, "Religion, Gender, and the Lost Cause in South Carolina's 1876 Governor's Race: 'Hampton or Hell!'" Journal of Southern History Volume: 68. Issue: 3. 2002. pp 573+. online edition; in JSTOR
  • Reynolds, John S. (1969). Reconstruction in South Carolina. Negro University Press. ISBN 0-8371-1638-4.
  • Simkins, Francis Butler, and Robert Hilliard Woody. South Carolina During Reconstruction (1932)
  • Rogers Jr., George C. and C. James Taylor (1994). A South Carolina Chronology 1497–1992. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 0-87249-971-5.
  • Williamson, Joel. After Slavery: The Negro in South Carolina During Reconstruction, 1861-1877 (1965)
  • Zuczek, Richard. State of Rebellion: Reconstruction in South Carolina (1998)
  • Zuczek, Richard "The last campaign of the Civil War: South Carolina and the revolution of 1876." Civil War History 42.1 (1996): 18-31. online

Primary sources

  • "The Vote in 1876 and 1878". The News and Courier. 3 November 1880. p. 2.
  • U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Privileges and Elections. South Carolina in 1876: Report on the Denial of the Elective Franchise in South Carolina at the State and National Election of 1876, to Accompany Senate Miscellaneous Document 48, Forty-Fourth Congress, Second Session (Washington, D.C., 1877)

External links

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South Carolina gubernatorial elections Succeeded by
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