NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2015 Volume 15.2 - Page 89

n Rutherford B. Hayes Rutherford B. Hayes is best known as being one of only two presidents who were elected without winning the popular vote (the other being George W. Bush in 2000). When his contest with New York State Governor Samuel Tilden in 1876 went to the Electoral College, representatives of Hay es, then the governor of Ohio, were able to convince delegations from states that were part of the Confederacy just eleven years earlier, that he would withdraw federal troops if he was elected president with their support. The deal was done and being true to his word, and when he was inaugurated as the 19th president of the United States, Hayes withdrew federal troops from the South, thereby ending the Reconstruction Era. With the withdrawal of federal troops, a reign of terror began for black Americans who lived in the former Confederate States of America. The decade following the inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes saw the rise of the Ku Klux Klan terrorist regime, the imposition of the American version of apartheid — Jim Crow laws and the intentional, systematic and purposeful removal of the constitutional rights of black Americans, beginning with the right to vote. What progress had been made by black Americans evaporated with the inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes and 140 years later millions of black Americans are still seeking equity, justice and equality, not only in the South but throughout these United States. Hayes has been able to hide in the mists of history, but he played a major role in ending Reconstruction and returning black Americans to a status of subjugation and oppression. He was not a Klansman, but without Rutherford B. Hayes as president, there might not have been a Klan. It should be noted that the black Americans transported to what is now Liberia were not necessarily descendants of people in that area of West Africa. Also, the people indigenous to this area were not consulted on the matter and were in effect colonized by the black Americans who had returned at the behest of white Americans. 87 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE The Liberian experiment was not replicated but the idea of repatriating black Americans was a strategy that was supported by numerous opponents and supporters of slavery right through the Civil War. Ironically, in the 20th century a significant number of black Americans supported Marcus Garvey and his Back to Africa movement.