The Elections

October 12, 1866


As the results from the recent elections in states across the Union, it became clear that newspaper across the country were wrong. The election wasn't a Radical landslide but actually a much closer victory than is giving hope to Conservatives in the South.


The Election The results of the elections in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa, were more favorable to the President's policy than we had expected them to be. The entire vote cast In Pennsylvania exceeded five hundred thousand, whereas at the election In 1865 It was only about four hundred and fifty thousand. The Radical majority now is some fifteen thousand against over twenty-thousand last year. It is plain that although Pennsylvania has gone for the Radicals, yet the Conservative strength is on the increase. But this is not all. The proportion of Radicals to Conservatives is only as to 25 1/3-- a difference so small that we hare nothing to fear from Radical measures. The South really has cause to congratulate herself upon this state of things. It is much better than the tone of either the Conservative or the Radical journals had led us to expect. And so long as fifty-one fifty-thirds of the northern people are opposed to confiscation, hanging, and disfranchisement, we have nothing to foar at the hands of the Radicals. A small change in public sentiment would throw the balance of power on the other side; and no aspiring Radical would undertake the accomplishment of schemes which would render his position In public life insecure. So far we have accepted the returns already received as decisive. But the fact is that the Radical reports are those upon which we have been basing our calculations. It would not surprise us to learn before our paper goes to press to-night (Thursday) that the Democrats have six or seven of the Congressmen in Indiana, or that Geary's majority has been reduced below 15,000. The first news is always Radical news. Upon this point the New York World of Wednesday remarks: "The returns of the elections yesterday are too meagre for one to state positively the full result in each State. Moreover, little reliance can be placed upon the first dispatches that are received, since they pass through Republican hands, and are doctored by them to suit themselves, as was done in the case of the Vermont and Maine elections last month. But the news, meagre as it is, indicates Democratic gains everywhere. The very paucity of reports received last night augurs well for the Democrats, for had the Radicals achieved a victory they would have spread the news far and wide at once." The sentence which the World italicises is the one which affords us grounds for hope. The fact that Conservative feelings are on the increase and Radical sentiments on the wane is surely a good foundation for hope that "all is not lost." Again: Every one knows how hard it is for a party to work against the influence of anticipated defeat. Well, the southern papers, and the National Intelligencer , the National Republican , and many of the Johnson organs elsewhere, including, we are afraid, the Richmond Dispatch, gave up the contest before the day of election. The New York World stood almost alone in speaking words of encouragement to the Pennsylvania Conservatives. The very small majority of Geary might perhaps have been overcome if we had all afforded the Conservatives the encouragement which they needed. When we look at the returns and see that there are all over Pennsylvania fifty-one Conservatives to every filtythree Radicals, it seems absurd that any one should have pretended to foresee that the result would be in favor of the Radicals. Our desponding articles were reproduced in Pennsylvania, and there is no doubt that some men who might otherwise have supported the Conservative candidates were induced by what they supposed to be impartial opinions to believe that there was no chance for the defeat of the Radicals, and so either absented themselves from the polls or, in the case of the timid and time-serving, voted the Radical ticket. New York will elect Hoffman if the southern States stand firm in their opposition to the ratification of the constitutional amendment. Before the elections of Tuesday last we thought his prospects by no means flattering. Now, we think that if Hoffman, the gallant, whole-souled, lion-hearted friend and advocate of the President's policy, shall be defeated, he will owe his defeat to the fickleness of the southern people. Nothing else than their desertion of the President on the question of restoration, or the failure of the President to adhere to his own policy, can prevent the growing conservatism the northern, people from resulting in a triumph of the Conservatives In the Empire State. Let us wait In hope.
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Nat Berry




“The Elections,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed September 28, 2022,