The 1876 Election and American Democracy
May. 11 2023
Hayes Presidential Library & Museums Spiegel Grove - home of Rutherford B. Hayes, Fremont, OH, USA Open in Google Map
7–8:30 p.m.

President Rutherford B. Hayes’ legacy will always be tied to his contested election and the end of Reconstruction after the Civil War.

As part of Hayes’ 200th birthday celebration, the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums wants to take a deep look at these issues and is gathering experts on Reconstruction to discuss them.
The group will talk about these issues and Hayes’ legacy during a discussion, “The 1876 Election and American Democracy,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 11. This event will take place in-person in the Hayes Museum auditorium and online through Zoom.

Admission is free. Attendees must register at Virtual attendees will be emailed a link to participate.

The panel includes (speakers joining virtually):
• Gregory Downs, professor at the University of California-Davis. Among his many works, he has contributed an article to the “American Historical Review” titled “The Mexicanization of American Politics: The United States’ Transnational Path from Civil War to Stabilization.” He wrote “After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War” and co-wrote the National Park Service’s theme study on Reconstruction. He is an editor of “The Journal of the Civil War Era.”

• Erik Alexander, associate professor at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville. He is contributing “Politics of the Civil War and Reconstruction,” to “The Oxford Handbook of American Political and Policy History.” He is working on a book titled “Revolution Forestalled: Northern Democrats and the Politics of Reconstruction.” He also co-wrote a number or pieces for the Washington Post on the 1876 election.

• Richard Pildes, Sudler Family professor of law at New York University Law School. He is one of the nation’s leading scholars of constitutional law and a specialist in legal issues concerning democracy. He is a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and was appointed by President Joe Biden to the President’s Commission on the Supreme Court. He has published dozens of articles and an acclaimed casebook, “The Law of Democracy.” His work explores legal and policy issues concerning the structure of democratic elections and institutions. He writes frequently for The New York Times and Washington Post.

Dustin McLochlin, Ph.D., Hayes Presidential Library & Museums historian, will moderate the discussion. Hayes Presidential encourages the public to submit questions for our experts. Questions can be emailed to [email protected].

Hayes’ election remains one of the most contested presidential elections in U.S. history. After he took office, he removed the remaining troops guarding statehouses from Louisiana and South Carolina, which some historians argue ended Reconstruction.

This election is often referenced during presidential election cycles.

President Hayes’ 200th Birthday Celebration is sponsored by Croghan Colonial Bank.

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