Hemmingway was tried, convicted, sentenced and served a term in the State Prison; all of which he calmly endured rather than give the name of any person having connection with that unfortunate affair. All the satisfaction that the public can get with reference to it,—other than the punishment to which Hemmingway was subjected,—is to indulge in conjectures about it. One conjecture, and the most reasonable and plausible one, is that if Hemmingway had made a full confession it might have involved not only some men who were prominent and influential, but perhaps the Democratic State organization as well. For it was a well-known fact that in 1875 nearly every Democratic club in the State was converted into an armed military company. To fully organize, equip, and arm such a large body of men required an outlay of a large sum of money. The money was evidently furnished by some persons or through some organization. Those who raised the money, or who caused it to be raised, no doubt had an eye to the main chance. A patriotic desire to have the State redeemed (?) was not with them the actuating motive. When the redemption (?) of the State was an accomplished fact they, no doubt, felt that they were entitled to share in the fruits of that redemption. Their idea evidently was that the State should be made to pay for its own salvation and redemption, but the only way in which this could be done was to have the people’s money in the State treasury appropriated for that purpose otherwise than by legislative enactment. This, as I have already stated, is only a conjecture, but, under the circumstances, it is the most reasonable and plausible one that can be imagined.
The case of Treasurer Hemmingway is conclusive evidence that in point of efficiency, honesty and official integrity the Democratic party had no advantage over the party that was placed in power chiefly through the votes of colored men. What was true of Mississippi in this respect was also true,—in a measure, at least,—of the other reconstructed States.
THE HAYES-TILDEN CONTEST. THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
Although the action of the returning boards in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida, gave Mr. Hayes a majority of one vote in the Electoral College, the Democrats, who were largely in the majority in the National House of Representatives, were evidently not willing to acquiesce in the declared result,—claiming that Mr. Tilden had been fairly elected and that he ought to be inaugurated.
Hon. Henry Watterson, of Kentucky,—who was at that time a member of the House,—delivered a fiery speech in which he declared that a hundred thousand armed men would march to Washington to see that Mr. Tilden was inaugurated. The situation for a while looked very grave. It seemed as if there would be a dual government, Hayes and Tilden each claiming to be the legally elected President. To prevent this was the problem then before Congress and the American people. Conferences, composed of influential men of both parties, were being frequently held in different parts of the city.