The heads of the anxious group immediately fell in deep disappointment and despair. But, of course, they did not fail to see the irony of Mr. Hill’s remark. It did transpire that whenever a motion to adjourn was made by a Democratic member of the commission it was usually carried by a vote of eight to seven,—Mr. Justice Bradley voting in the affirmative with the Democrats. On no other question, however, could they depend on his vote.
The decision of the Electoral Commission was finally rendered in favor of Mr. Hayes by a strict party vote,—eight to seven. Strong and bitter opposition to the approval of the decision was made in the House by quite a number of northern Democrats, but the majority of southern Democrats, aided by such northern Democrats as represented districts having large commercial interests,—interests that are at all times willing to pay any price for peace,—accepted the decision, and Mr. Hayes was allowed to be peacefully inaugurated.
ATTITUDE OF THE HAYES ADMINISTRATION TOWARD THE SOUTH
The new administration had been in power only a short while before it became apparent to southern Republicans that they had very little to expect from this administration. It was generally understood that a southern man would be made Postmaster General in the new cabinet, but it was assumed, of course, by those, at least, who were not fully informed about the secret deals and bargains that had been entered into as a condition precedent to a peaceable inauguration of the new administration,—that he would be a Republican.
Senator Alcorn, of my own State, Mississippi, who had just retired from the Senate, had an ambition to occupy that position. I was one to whom that fact was made known. I did not hesitate to use what little influence I had to have that ambition gratified. I was so earnest and persistent in pressing his claims and merits upon those who were known to be close to the appointing power, that I succeeded in finding out definitely and authoritatively the name of the man that had been agreed upon and would, no doubt, be appointed to that position. Ex-Senator Key, a Democrat from Tennessee, was the man. When I informed Senator Alcorn of that fact the manifestation of surprise, disappointment, and disgust with which he received it can better be imagined than described. This was not due so much to the fact that some other one than himself had been selected, but to the fact that the fortunate man was a Southern Democrat. For the first time the Senator became convinced that southern Republicans had been made the subjects of barter and trade in the shuffle for the Presidency, and that the sacrifice of southern Republicans was the price that had to be paid for the peaceable inauguration of Mr. Hayes. This, in Senator Alcorn’s opinion, meant that the Republican party in the reconstructed States of the South was a thing of the past. There was no hope for it in the future.