Ballot boxes of varied patterns were secured and filled with ballots marked just as they desired. Some ballots were for republicans, some for democrats, and some marked wrong so as to indicate the votes of illiterates. The majorities, of course, were invariably such as suited the democrats. The ballots were all carefully counted and arranged; and tabulated statements of the votes cast put in. A sheet for the returns was put in, only awaiting the signatures of the officials at the various precincts in order to be complete. These boxes were carried by trusted messengers to their destinations.
On election day, not these boxes, but boxes similar to them were used to receive the ballots. On the night of the election, the ballot boxes that actually received the votes were burned with all their contents and the boxes and ballots from Richmond were substituted. The judges of election took out the return sheet, already prepared, signed it and returned it to Richmond forthwith. Thus it could always be known thirty days ahead just what the exact vote in detail was to be throughout the entire state. In fact a tabulated statement was prepared and printed long before election day.
Leonard paid a clerk at headquarters five thousand dollars for one of these tabulated statements. With this he hurried on to Washington and secretly placed it before the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, with the understanding that it was to be used after election day as a basis for possible contest. Fifteen of the most distinguished clergymen in the nation were summoned to Washington and made affidavits, stating that they had seen this tabulated statement twenty days before the election took place.
When Virginia’s returns came in they were found to correspond in every detail to this tabulated report.
As nothing but a prophet, direct from God, could have foreseen the results exactly as they did occur, this tabulated statement was proof positive of fraud on a gigantic scale.
With this and a mass of other indisputable evidence at his back, secured by the shrewd Leonard, Bernard entered the contest for his seat. The House of Representatives was democratic by a small majority. The contest was a long and bitter one. The republicans were solidly for Bernard. The struggle was eagerly watched from day to day. It was commonly believed that the democrats would vote against Bernard, despite the clear case in his favor.
The day to vote on the contest at last arrived and the news was flashed over the country that Bernard had triumphed. A handful of democrats had deserted their party and voted with the republicans. Bernard’s father had redeemed his promise of secret support. Bernard’s triumph in a democratic house caused the nation to rub its eyes and look again in wonder.
The colored people hailed Bernard as the coming Moses. “Belgrave, Belgrave, Belgrave,” was on every Negro tongue. Poems were addressed to him. Babies were named after him. Honorary titles were showered upon him. He was in much demand at fairs and gatherings of notable people. He accepted every invitation of consequence, whenever possible, and traveled far and wide winning friends by his bewitching eloquence and his pleasing personality.