Archive for octubre 2020

Las elecciones presidenciales de 1876 fueron unas históricas caracterizadas por el fraude, la intimidación y la violencia. Los Republicanos nominaron como su candidato al gobernador de Ohio Rutherford B. Hayes, un político insípido, pero integro. Los Demócratas nominaron al gobernador de Nueva York Samuel J. Tilden. Ambos favorecían el gobierno propio para el Sur (es decir, no interferir ni intervenir en los asuntos políticos del Sur) y, además, la reconstrucción no era una de sus prioridades.

Esta elección ha sido una de las más cerradas en la historia de los Estados Unidos. Hayes obtuvo el 48% de los votos populares y 185 votos electorales, mientras que Tilden le superó en votos populares con el 50% de éstos, pero sólo alcanzó 184 votos electorales. Ninguno de los dos candidatos obtuvo el número de votos electorales necesarios para ser electo presidente, lo que provocó una seria crisis política. Para resolver esta crisis el Congreso nombró un comité compuesto por cinco senadores, cinco representantes y cinco jueces del Tribunal Supremo, ocho Republicanos y siete Demócratas. El comité votó en estricta línea partidista a favor de reconocer la elección de Hayes, lo que generó las protestas  de los Demócratas. Éstos controlaban la Cámara de Representantes y amenazaron con bloquear la juramentación de Hayes. Para superar esta crisis se llevaron a cabo negociaciones secretas que culminaron con un acuerdo en febrero de 1877: los Demócratas aceptaron la elección del Hayes a cambio de que éste nombrara a un sureño en su gabinete, no interfiriera en la política del Sur y se comprometiera a retirar las tropas federales que quedaban en el sur.

Poco tiempo después de su juramentación como Presidente de los Estados Unidos, Hayes ordenó la salida de las tropas federales de Florida y Carolina del Sur. La salida de los soldados conllevó la eventual derrota de los gobernadores Republicanos de ambos estados. Al adoptar una política de no interferencia en los asuntos del Sur, los Republicanos abandonaron a los afroamericanos. Aunque formaban parte de la constitución, las Enmiendas 14 y 15 quedaron sin efecto en el Sur porque fueron sistemáticamente ignoradas por los gobiernos sureños. Con ello murió la era de la Reconstrucción y se inició una era vergonzosa caracterizada por la supremacía de los blancos, la violencia racial, la violación sistemática de los derechos de los ciudadanos afroamericanos y la segregación de los negros.

Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite administering the oath of office to Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877.

Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite administering the oath of office to Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877.

The Presidential Election of 1876

In the summer of 1876 the United States celebrated a centenary of independence. Although it was a jubilee year, the American Republic was also deeply troubled. The desperate battles of the Civil War had ended more than a decade before; yet Abraham Lincoln’s call for ‘malice toward none’ remained an unfulfilled appeal, as Federal troops continued to occupy some of the former Confederate States. President Ulysses S. Grant’s second term of office was drawing to a close under a barrage of criticism directed at corruption in his government. The coming Presidential election would take place in November.

It promised to be an exciting fight, but no one foresaw that the struggle between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden would result in an unparalleled scandal and bring America perilously close to another civil conflict. Indeed, the roots of the dispute were firmly woven into the Civil War and its tragic aftermath.

On April 9th, 1865 General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia and the guns at Appomattox stopped firing. The Civil War drew to a close. In four years of grim fighting the troops of both sides had developed a respect for each other, a bond of harsh experiences mutually endured. Now Yankees shared their rations with Confederates and traded wartime stories.

The day after the surrender, Abraham Lincoln returned to Washington after a visit to Richmond. A wildly cheering crowd called for a speech, but the President demurred. Instead, he asked the military band to strike up ‘Dixie’. For a brief moment there seemed to be hope of genuine reconciliation. It was unquestionably Lincoln’s fervent hope. Then, only days later, John Wilkes Booth fired a fatal bullet into the President’s head at Ford’s Theatre in Washington.

Election Cartoon, 1876 Photograph by Granger

With Lincoln’s death, the ‘Radicals’ in the Republican Party gained the upper hand. For men like Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania and Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, the South fully deserved the revenge they had planned. The bitter years of ‘Reconstruction’ followed. Government tax-collectors enjoyed a bonanza below the Mason-Dixon Line. General Lee’s magnificent home at Arlington was seized for taxes. Properties worth thousands of dollars were sold for a few hundred and Federal Treasury agents laid claim to supposedly abandoned land. Even General William Tecumseh Sherman, whose army made the famous march from Atlanta to the sea, burning and destroying everything in its path, spoke in compassionate terms to a veterans’ gathering shortly after the war:

It was in this atmosphere that white Southerners fought to regain control of South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Florida and other states of the former Confederacy; the newly emancipated slaves fought for a place in a society previously denied them; and political scavengers fought to hang on to the spoils of war. Gradually, however, the South returned to the control of its native white population. In doing so, it became more solidly attached to the Democratic Party than ever before.

Due to the presence of Federal troops and officials in positions of power, Ulysses S. Grant was able to carry eight southern states for the Republican Party in the Presidential election of 1868. Grant won a second term in 1872, but this time only six southern states were in the Republican camp. The grip of Radical Republican power was fading. Perhaps more significant, the immediate post-war zeal in the North for African-American welfare had diminished.


Republican election poster

Republican election poster, 1876.


As the election of 1876 approached, Grant’s Republican administration reeled under a heavy attack by the press when a great whisky scandal broke. Western distillers had been flagrantly evading Federal taxes, and Grant’s own private secretary, General Babcock, was implicated. The President’s enemies gleefully pointed to corruption in the White House. Instead of dissociating himself from Babcock, Grant leaped to his defence.

Indeed, Grant displayed an almost incredible loyalty to dubious colleagues during his Presidency. His support of Babcock largely contributed to an acquittal. But this was just part of the rapidly mounting troubles faced by the Republican Party.

In March 1876, just eight months before the election, Secretary of War William Belknap was charged with malfeasance in office by the House of Representatives. Rather than remove Belknap from his post, Grant merely accepted the cabinet member’s resignation. One month later it was James G. Blaine’s turn to embarrass the Administration. As Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Blaine was in a most influential position. When the press charged that he had taken favours from the Union Pacific Railroad, the tag of ‘Grantism’ received new life as a synonym for political avarice.

The scandals could not have come at a more inopportune time, for the Republicans desperately needed a politically untarnished standard-bearer in the coming election and Blaine was a strong candidate. Despite the publicity, Blaine’s name was prominent when the Republicans met at Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 14th to nominate a contender for the Presidency. Recognising that public attention had to be focused on something other than the Administration’s record, Blaine attacked the South and stirred up fears of a new war. In doing so, he alienated those members of his party who sought a genuine rapprochement with the old Confederacy. On the seventh ballot, he lost the nomination to a ‘dark horse’ candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio. Hayes was a compromise between the extreme wings of the Party. Above all, his personal record and political integrity could not be seriously challenged.

The 53-year-old Hayes had a good, if not spectacular, background. Born in Delaware, Ohio, he had been raised by a widowed mother who, fortunately, enjoyed financial security. He received a degree from the Harvard Law School in 1845 and subsequently accepted a number of fugitive slave cases. During the Civil War, Hayes rose to the rank of brevet major-general of volunteers, participated in many actions and was severely wounded. While the war still raged he was elected to Congress. He was later elected Governor of Ohio on three separate occasions and put through a number of reforms.

In accepting the nomination, Hayes vowed to end the spoils system and called for an end to ‘the distinction between North and South in our common country’. This conciliatory statement was in sharp contrast to Resolution Number 16 of the Party Platform which went so far as to question the loyalty of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. This allegation reflected the presence of Congressmen who had fought for the Confederacy.

The Democrats had no problem in devising their campaign strategy. The entire nation was aware of the Administration’s shortcomings. Corruption was the issue and the Democratic Party promised reform. On June 27th they held their convention in St Louis, Missouri. In an auditorium jammed with 5,000 people, Governor Samuel J. Tilden of New York scored a landslide victory on the second ballot.


Samuel J. Tilden is announced as the Democratic presidential nominee

Samuel J. Tilden is announced as the Democratic presidential nominee.


Tilden was a unique figure, and certainly one of the most interesting to cross the American political scene. This frail, cold, articulate bachelor commanded a crusading zeal from his supporters. As a boy, Tilden was withdrawn and showed little inclination to mix with young people. Politics, however, fascinated him and his father fostered that interest. At the age of 15 he used his own money to buy Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. By 1841 he was a qualified lawyer with a continuing and consuming interest in politics. His brilliant grasp of political matters brought him to the attention of Democratic leaders who sought his counsel. For some time Tilden studiously avoided candidacy for high public office, but his own abilities soon brought him national recognition.

A particularly significant event was Tilden’s exposure and prosecution of New York’s notorious racketeer, ‘Boss’ William M. Tweed. His popularity soared and he was elected Governor of New York. Then he broke up the Canal Ring, a group of crooks and unscrupulous politicians. Tilden’s name became associated with integrity in politics. This was just what the Democratic Party wanted as a contrast to the Republican Administration.

The battle lines were clearly defined. Left to themselves, it is possible that Hayes and Tilden might have kept the election campaign free from distortion of facts and bitter personal invective, but it was not to be. Tilden was subjected to a number of damaging of charges. There seemed to be no limit to the accusations: that he was a liar, swindler, perjurer, counterfeiter and even an absurd claim that he had been in league with the infamous Tweed. In line with their basic campaign strategy, the Republicans alleged that Tilden had supported the Confederacy, the right of secession and the continuation of slavery. This all stemmed from his opposition to Lincoln in 1860, but that was because he was a Democrat and feared a Republican victory would bring disaster to the United States. This feeling had no bearing on his fundamental loyalty to the Union, and once the war began he had urged the quick suppression of the Confederacy.

As election day approached, excitement grew with each rally and parade. It was, after all, the centenary of American independence. Even politically apathetic citizens came out for Hayes or Tilden with great enthusiasm. But on polling day, November 7th, calm prevailed as people made their way to voting centres. It was a stillness soon to be shattered. Hayes’ hopes began to sink as swing states such as Connecticut, Indiana and New Jersey went to Tilden. When New York finally fell into Tilden’s camp, Hayes admitted defeat to those around him and went to bed.

Tilden was not only leading in the popular vote: he had 184 of the far more important electoral votes to Hayes’ 166. The 19 votes of South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana were had not yet been declared, but they were in the heartland of the Democratic South. At the Republican National Headquarters, exhausted and dispirited party workers began to go home. On the morning of November 8th, the press of both parties was crowded with news of Tilden’s victory. Even the militantly Republican New York Tribune conceded the election.

The New York Times, however, would do no more than admit a Democratic lead. Two days after the election, John C. Reid, the newspaper’s influential editor, sat in the editorial room with two assistants. It was after 3am when a message arrived from the State Democratic Committee: ‘Please give your estimate of the electoral votes secured by Tilden. Answer at once.’ Reid was astounded. If they urgently needed such information, then the Democrats were not certain of victory. In a matter of minutes he conceived a scheme to wrest the election away from Tilden and put Rutherford B. Hayes into the White House. Tilden had 18 more electoral votes than Hayes, but if the 19 from South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida were secured by the Republicans, Hayes would win by one vote, 185 to 184.

Tilden (left) and Hayes

Samuel J. Tilden (left) and Rutherford B. Hayes (right).

Reid, accompanied by a Republican official, hurried into the night and awakened Zachariah Chandler, National Republican Chairman. Chandler agreed to Reid’s proposal: telegrams must be sent immediately to Republican officials in the three states, with the following message: ‘Hayes is elected if we have carried South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. Can you hold your state? Answer immediately.’ The meaning was clear: those states were to be held at any cost. At the same time, Republican headquarters proclaimed Hayes’ election.

The key to the plot’s success lay in the state canvassing boards. They had the power to certify the votes and cast out those that, in the board’s opinion, were questionable. The need for absolute honesty by the boards in exercising their power was self evident, but the personnel of some made comedy of that requirement. Of course, all of the boards were Republican and backed by Federal troops.

Initially, Hayes dissociated himself from the plan, saying: ‘I think we are defeated … I am of the opinion that the Democrats have carried the country and elected Tilden.’ A few weeks later, however, he changed his mind: ‘I have no doubt that we are justly and legally entitled to the Presidency.’

From the beginning there was an outside chance that Hayes could have carried South Carolina and Louisiana on the strength of votes from African-Americans and ‘carpetbaggers’ (a pejorative term for Northerners who moved South during the Reconstruction). Florida’s heavily Democratic white majority, however, made that state a dim prospect for Republican hopes. But they had to have Florida or Tilden would win by 188 to 181. During the actual election campaign, all three states witnessed a wide variety of attempts by both sides to cow voters and fraud was rampant. In one shameful tactic, the Democrats tried to distribute ballots with the Republican emblem prominently displayed over the names of Democratic candidates. It was worth the chance in the hope of picking up votes from illiterate voters. On the Republican side, one inspired person devised ‘little jokers’. These were tiny Republican tickets inside a regular ballot. A partisan clerk could slip them into the ballot box with little chance of being detected.

In Louisiana, Tilden held a comfortable majority over Hayes. And in New Orleans, the Democratic elector with the smallest plurality had more than 6,000 votes over his Republican opponent. The canvassing board solved the problem in that state by simply throwing out 13,000 Tilden votes against only 2,000 for Hayes. Then the electors for Hayes were certified.

The prelude to the election in South Carolina was a bloody affair. The Governor was Daniel H. Chamberlain of Massachusetts, a strict dogmatist on the race question and thoroughly loathed by white South Carolinians. In addition to the Presidential election, there was a gubernatorial race. The Democrats were running a war hero, former Confederate General Wade Hampton. ‘Rifle clubs’ were organised over the entire state by Hampton’s supporters and there were numerous clashes with African-American groups. As far back as July 8th, there had been a sharp fight in Aiken County at which African-Americans suffered a severe defeat. Chamberlain appealed to President Grant for help. Grant described the rifle clubs as ‘insurgents’ and sent all readily available troops to South Carolina. The resultant fury at this action was compounded when the Republican canvassing board ensured the certification of Hayes’ electors.

The Election of 1876 & The End of Reconstruction

Florida was the most critical problem. As the polling booths closed, each side claimed victory. Once again, the canvassing board held the decision in its hands. The three-man board was dominated by two Republicans, Florida’s Secretary of State and its Comptroller. The third man was the Democratic Attorney General. The board had the right to exclude ‘irregular, false or fraudulent’ votes. In a complete travesty of integrity, the board voted for Hayes by virtue of its Republican majority. Thus, Florida’s key electoral votes went to Hayes. The Republican Governor certified them with the official blessing of the state. The outraged Democrats held a meeting and had the Attorney General certify the Tilden electors. With this action, a new and dangerous complication entered the scene. Democrats, claiming dishonesty by the canvassing boards, were certifying their own electors by whatever legal or quasi-legal means they could. To further complicate matters, Florida Democrats elected G. F. Drew as Governor and he appointed a new board of canvassers who promptly judged Tilden’s electors to be victorious. In South Carolina, where Wade Hampton had been elected Governor, there were unqualified demands to disenfranchise the Hayes electors.

As a precaution, General Grant ordered Federal troops into all three state capitals, directing General Sherman ‘to see that the proper and legal boards of canvassers are unmolested in the performance of their duties’. That meant Hayes would win. At this point, Samuel Tilden’s followers almost begged him to denounce the plot publicly, but he would no nothing to prejudice the legal process. This is somewhat difficult to understand in view of his previous anti-fraud successes.

The Senate and House of Representatives convened for the second session of the 44th Congress on December 4th, 1876. It was just two days before the date set for Presidential electors chosen in each state to meet and declare their choice for President and Vice-President of the United States. It was the responsibility of each state Governor and Secretary of State to affix the official state seal to the voting certificates and send them to the President of the Senate in Washington D.C. who would then count them before a joint session of Congress.

Since the Senate was controlled by Republicans, the Democratic House demanded the right to decide which votes were valid. The Senate, understandably, refused. Here was an incredible situation; each day bringing the United States closer to March 4th, the date when Grant’s term expired. Who would succeed him and how would it be done? Rumblings of a new civil war rolled ominously across America. There were drills and parades and wartime units began to reform. Even cool heads discussed the possibility of the National Guard, under the command of Democratic Governors in most states, marching on Washington to install Tilden by force, if necessary. In that case, the Regular Army under Grant would oppose the Guard as Hayes had been ‘legally’ elected.

Amazon.com: Presidential Campaign 1876 Ncontemporary American Newspaper  Cartoon Attacking William Eaton Chandler Who Directed Republican Tactics In  The Rutherford B Hayes And Samuel J Tilden Election In Which Twe: Posters &  PrintsIt was an unthinkable prospect. Fortunately, there were men of influence on both sides who saw that a peaceful solution was absolutely mandatory. On December 14th, the House appointed a committee to approach the Senate in the hope that a tribunal could be created; one ‘whose authority none can question and whose decision all will accept as final’. After much debate, an Electoral Commission was approved. Congress proceeded to set up a group of 15 men; five from the Senate, five from the House and five from the Supreme Court. Presumably, the Court Justices would be non-partisan. Both Hayes and Tilden declared the Commission unconstitutional, but they reluctantly agreed to accept its verdict.

It was clear to everyone what would happen without the Commission. Republican Senator Thomas Ferry of Michigan, presiding officer of the Senate, would open the certificates before a joint session and declare Hayes the winner by 185 to 184 electoral votes. The House would then immediately adjourn to its own chambers where Speaker Samuel Randall would declare no electoral majority and throw the election into a vote by each state delegation in the House. That would assure Tilden’s victory, and on March 4th, 1877 both Hayes and Tilden would be in Washington to be inaugurated as President of the United States. Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York described this route as a ‘Hell-gate paved and honeycombed with dynamite’. It was no understatement.

The Commission held its first session just four weeks before the inauguration. Democratic members of the Commission pressed for a searching examination of the honesty of the canvassing boards. The Republican members claimed that the legal state authorities had filed legitimate certificates and Congress had no power to interfere.

The Commission finally voted along party lines with the decision going to Hayes, 8 to 7. On Friday, March 2nd at 4am, the Senate awarded the last certificate to Hayes. It was just two days before the inauguration. The fury of the South was matched by its Democratic allies in the North. All eyes turned to Samuel J. Tilden. If he claimed that the will of the American people had been frustrated by partisan duplicity and fraud, then America faced civil war. Instead, Tilden said: ‘It is what I expected.’

Electoral map of 1876: Republican wins in red, Democrat in blue, non-states in grey.

Electoral map of 1876: Republican wins in red, Democrat in blue, non-states in grey.


Open conflict might still have been a possibility except for a meeting that has since been the subject of much speculation. One week before the inauguration, Southern Democrats and Republicans met at the Wormley Hotel in Washington in an effort to find some compromise before it was too late. There is ample evidence to suggest that a quid pro quo was reached; the South to agree to Hayes’ election if the North would agree to abandon all efforts to maintain carpetbag regimes in the South. That meant withdrawal of Federal troops. In return, the South presumably agreed not to take reprisals against African-Americans or carpetbag officials.

For that matter, the South and its Democratic friends in the North already held a powerful sword over the head of the United States Army. They attached a clause to the Army Appropriations Bill that outlawed the use of Federal troops to sustain state governments in the South without Congressional approval. When the Senate refused the clause, the House simply adjourned and left the Army without funds to pay soldiers. Morale collapsed and the end of Reconstruction was at hand.

After the decision, Tilden commented: ‘I can retire to private life with the consciousness that I shall receive from posterity the credit for having been elected to the highest position in the gift of the people, without any of the cares.’ That summer he sailed for Europe for a year’s vacation. Rutherford B. Hayes took the oath of office in private, kissing the open Bible at Psalm 118:13 ‘… the Lord helped me’.

There was no inaugural parade or ball. There was little to celebrate.

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El fraude y la manipulación electoral son problemas que han acompañado a los estadounidenses a lo largo de su historia. Desde la compra de votos hasta el amendrentamiento y la violencia,  diversos grupos y partidos políticos han usado diferentes mecanismos para manipular la elecciones a nivel local y nacional.  Comparto esta nota escrita por el Dr. Jon Grinspan, curador en el  National Museum of American History, analizando este problema desde la actual coyuntura electoral estadounidense.

In the old days, nobody needed help from a foreign country.

The New York Times      October  24, 2020

Around supper time on Election Day, 1880, the poll workers in Bolivar County, Miss., were getting hungry. Someone ran out for sardines and crackers. The officials noshed and counted votes until the “violent laxative” that had been added to the Republicans’ sardines started to take effect. Then they ran for the outhouses while the remaining Democrats counted a suspiciously large majority.

As a historian of American democracy, I used to collect anecdotes like this from the mid-to-late 1800s. They dramatized, with outlandish gall, just how different America’s past was from the square politics I grew up with in the late 20th century. But on the eve of an election the president of the United States has declared might be stolen from him, a fear he promises to counter with an “army” of partisan poll watchers, dirty tricks don’t feel so distant. As our politics have darkened, I’ve shifted away from studying spiked sardines, wondering instead how Americans ever stopped stealing elections.


Such thefts are not cute. They robbed thousands of people of their rights, helped kill Reconstruction, and forestalled political reform. We still suffer from these crimes, over a century later. But in a striving nation dominated by what Charles Dickens called “the love of smart dealings,” crooked politicians often chuckled about their cunning. “Instead of wrath” at stolen elections, the humorist James Russell Lowell complained upon returning from abroad, “I found banter.” When the journalist Lincoln Steffens mentioned a St. Louis trick to a party boss in Philadelphia, the two began excitedly talking shop, “as one artist to another.” Although most elections were (relatively) clean, “majority manufacturers” in teeming Northern cities, racially tense Southern districts and new Western settlements laid out two paths for stealing elections — steal the cast or steal the count.

Understanding how these swindles worked can help shed light on what we should and shouldn’t worry about in 2020.

Stealing elections often started with the U.S. Postal Service — central to this election as well. In a nation that was over 80 percent rural, post offices were a choke point for political news. But they were run by deeply partisan postmasters, appointed by the very congressmen they’d help elect, and they frequently “lost” the opposition’s newspapers or correspondences. And because parties privately printed their own ballots in those days, post offices and newspaper publishers could buy up all the paper in town, making it difficult for rivals to get enough tickets. Even the telegraph wires couldn’t be trusted: In the contested presidential election of 1876, Western Union operators sent Democratic politicians’ private messages straight to Republican headquarters.

The tricks grew more confrontational on Election Day itself. Most states lacked voter registration systems, so partisans hung around the polls, challenging illegal voters — on account of age, race or residency — and intimidating legal ones they believed would vote for the rival ticket. Challenges could be oddly intimate, like the elderly Democrat in Civil War-torn Missouri who was threatened by a young man who “I have known ever since he was a child.” They could also lead to atrocious brutality. In the South at the end of Reconstruction, white Democratic rifle clubs “policed” the polls. They invented the term “bulldoze” in 1876 to describe the use of a “dose” of the bullwhip to terrorize African-American voters.

No Registry Law and Tammany | ClipArt ETC

Unlike today, there actually was widespread fraud in casting ballots, what Rudyard Kipling called the uniquely American “art of buying up votes retail.” A glass of lager, $5 or a pork chop sandwich might win over a decisive minority, up to 10 percent in some states. A Norwegian immigrant in Minneapolis was struck by how open this illegal behavior was, often “considered clever and was not concealed.” But an odd code dominated this illicit activity. Jane Addams described the consequences for an unscrupulous man who sold his vote to both parties. He was punished with a Chicago-style tar-and-feathering, his head held under a blasting fire hydrant on a cold November day.

Wholesale fraud trumped buying votes retail. In big cities and new settlements where many voters were strangers, parties practiced what became known as “colonizing”: filling a district with temporary voters. Mid-Atlantic cities saw an election season shell game, with Philadelphians sent to vote in Manhattan and New Yorkers swinging Baltimore elections. In the South, elections were sometimes stolen in the opposite manner. White Democrats conspired to win north Florida in 1876 by sending a large crew of Republican African-American railroad workers to work in Alabama. Their train mysteriously broke down there, stranding them on Election Day.

Ballot fraud was even easier than moving men around, at a time when voters cast a galaxy of paper tickets. There were “tissue ballots,” so thin that a voter could cast ten folded up to look like a single vote, or “tapeworm ballots,” long and skinny to prevent dissenters from “scratching” in names of candidates not approved by the party. When parties began to color-code ballots, some used the opposition’s chosen color to fool illiterates. Among election thieves, “every body thought it was a pretty sharp trick.”

“Stealing the cast” on Election Day was a lot of work, much of it illegal and confrontational. “Stealing the count” was easier. It required quietly turning power into more power, using local officials to swing state elections with national consequences. The notorious Democratic journalist Marcus (Brick) Pomeroy later bragged about throwing opposition votes into the fire when he worked one election in Wisconsin. Missing ballots sometimes showed up, charred and deserted, on Mississippi roads.
The Republican Convention in Chicago in June 1880, at which James A. Garfield became the nominee. This era of outlandish dirty tricks no longer seems so distant.

Credit…C.D. Mosher, via Getty Images

In the 1876 election, while the Democrats decisively won the popular vote, Republican-controlled returning boards in disputed states used fraud, bribery and the U.S. Army to steal the count. In Louisiana, they disqualified whole parishes, throwing out one in 10 votes statewide, 85 percent of them for Democrats. To figure out who would win an election, wrote a furious Democrat watching Republicans inaugurate President “Ruther-fraud” B. Hayes, you needn’t predict the future: “You need only to know what kind of scoundrels constitute the returning boards.”

This ugly history tells us some useful things about the present. First, stealing the vote itself takes an incredible amount of labor. Coordinating machines capable of casting large numbers of fraudulent ballots required massive efforts, amounting to organized criminal conspiracies. Study after study finds that there is no significant voting fraud today, a claim borne out by history: Such a crime takes a lot of work and leaves a lot of evidence.

History also shows that there is a choice to be made. Around 1890 the nation came to a fork in the road. Southern states systematized “bulldozing,” writing new constitutions that made it nearly impossible for African-Americans to vote. With Jim Crow laws and minuscule turnouts, those states ceased to be functioning democracies.

But in the rest of the nation, many were tired of the smirking frauds. The radical Nebraska activist Luna Kellie wrote that until elections were cleaned up, there was “very little use of thinking of any other reform.” James Russell Lowell warned that democracy was in more danger than it had been during the Civil War, because while Confederates seceded with half the nation, crooked politicians were “filching from us the whole of our country.”

Acts of Enforcement: The New York City Election of 1870Electoral reform became a hot topic, attracting canny reformers and rapt attention. Men who had once colonized districts wrote new elections laws. Steffens, a muckraking journalist whom the Philadelphia boss described as “a born crook that’s gone straight,” published wildly popular studies of different political machines’ dirtiest tricks. Many of our election rules date from that moment, around 1900, when Americans redirected their “love of smart dealings” toward tightening up electoral systems, rather than finding ways around them.

In 2020, America may be at another fork. “Bad men at the ballot box,” as one Texas preacher called them in 1890, may reappear to intimidate voters. Accusations of fraud might motivate spiraling political thefts. Or perhaps all of this anxiety will focus our wandering attention back to neglected electoral practices, as it did after 1890. How elections work — once a powerfully unsexy topic — may well attract the vital interest of activists, donors and students once again.

There’s no telling how the cast and count will go in 2020, but we can hope that the American people know a rotten sardine when they smell one.

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La explosión y hundimiento del acorazado USS Maine el 15 de febrero de 1898 llevó a Estados Unidos a una guerra desigual contra España. Fondeado en la Bahía de la Habana, en el Maine murieron 266 marinos. El contexto de tensión en que se dio esta explosión, unido al  uso político que se le dio para justificar tal guerra, han llevado a más de uno a elaborar teorías conspiratorias para explicar este evento que cambió la historia no sólo de Cuba, sino también de Puerto Rico y las Filipinas. Comparto con mis lectores este trabajo del Profesor Edmundo Fayanas Escuer con la que, debo reconocer, es la explicación más detallada de las múltiples investigaciones y teorías sobre el hundimiento del Maine que haya leído.

El acorazado norteamericano Maine: ¿qué sucedió?

Edmundo Fayanas Escuer

Nueva Tribuna   22 de octubre de 2020

La guerra hispano-estadounidense fue un conflicto bélico, que enfrentó a España y a los Estados Unidos en el año 1898. Fue el resultado de la intervención norteamericana en la guerra de Independencia cubana.

El siglo XIX representó para el Imperio español un claro declive, mientras que los Estados Unidos pasaron de convertirse en un país recién fundado, a ser una potencia regional media. En el caso español, la decadencia venía de siglos anteriores, pero se aceleró primero con la invasión napoleónica, que a su vez provocaría la independencia f1de gran parte de las colonias americanas, y posteriormente la inestabilidad política, que desangró al país social y económicamente.

Las tensiones por Cuba entre España y Estados Unidos se llevaban teniendo desde los años 1870, cuando empiezan los movimientos nacionalistas cubanos ocasión aprovechada por los norteamericanos para potenciarla.

España se encontraba en una hipotética guerra contra EEUU en clara desventaja:

  • El aspecto militar era de una gran desigualdad para España, que disponía de una armada obsoleta y anticuada.
  • EEUU tenía más de 62 millones de habitantes en el año 1890, por unos 18 millones en España,
  • EEUU luchaba cerca de su territorio, mientras que España tenía que mandar tropas al otro lado del planeta, a Cuba o Filipinas.
  • EUU tenía grandes zonas industrializadas, mientras que España era principalmente agrícola.

España tenía un gobierno débil, liderado por Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, y sacudido por el malestar social, la corrupción política y económica y las sucesivas guerras de independencia que, desde 1865, se venían librando en Cuba y Filipinas. Mantener las últimas colonias era vital para la estabilidad del país.

Sin embargo, la agitación nacionalista española, en la que la prensa escrita tuvo una influencia clave, provocó que el gobierno español no pudiera ceder y vender Cuba a EEUU, como por ejemplo antes había vendido Florida a ese país, en el año 1821.

Si el gobierno español vendía Cuba, sería visto como una traición por una parte de la sociedad española. El gobierno prefirió librar una guerra perdida de antemano, antes que arriesgarse a una nueva revolución, es decir, optó por una demolición controlada para preservar el Régimen de la Restauración.

La guerra fue relativamente breve. La explosión del acorazado Maine el quince de febrero del año 1898 fue el casus belli de esta guerra. Aún hoy se sigue discutiendo si fue un accidente, un ataque intencionado español o un ataque de bandera falsa de los propios norteamericanos.

Como veremos posteriormente, no fue provocado por los españoles. Simplemente se discute si fue un terrible accidente o provocado por los propios norteamericanos, cosa que a lo largo de la historia veremos que ha sido una práctica bastante habitual.


Entonces la opinión pública estadounidense, convenientemente agitada por sus medios de comunicación, clamaban venganza. La guerra se declaró oficialmente un mes después. Aunque para las tropas norteamericanas la lucha en territorio cubano no fue tan favorable como se esperaban, como sucedió en las batallas terrestres de El Caney y de las Colinas de San Juan.

Sin embargo, las dos incontestables victorias navales norteamericanas con la batalla naval de Cavite en Filipinas del uno de mayo, y la batalla naval de Santiago de Cuba del tres de julio, donde fue destrozada la armada española, decantó la guerra a favor de los Estados Unidos.

La toma de Santiago de Cuba y la superioridad militar de las tropas norteamericanas, apoyadas en todo momento por las fuerzas cubanas al mando del general Calixto García, obligaron a los españoles, que ya estaban virtualmente acabados, a rendirse en el año 1898. El suceso abrió paso a la ocupación norteamericana de Cuba hasta el año 1902.

Estas derrotas provocaron, que el gobierno español pidiera en el verano de 1898 negociar la paz, que por intermediación de Francia, se plasmaría en el Tratado de París del diez de diciembre.

Los resultados del Tratado de París fueron la pérdida de la isla de Cuba, que se proclamó república independiente, pero quedó bajo tutela de Estados Unidos, así como de Puerto Rico, Filipinas y Guam, que pasaron a ser dependencias coloniales de Estados Unidos. En Filipinas, la ocupación estadounidense degeneró en la guerra filipino-estadounidense entre los años 1899-1902.

El resto de posesiones españolas del Pacífico fueron vendidas al Imperio alemán, mediante el Tratado hispano-alemán, del doce de febrero del año 1899, por el cual, España cedió al Imperio alemán sus últimos archipiélagos, las Marianas con la excepción de la isla de Guam, que pasaron a manos de los Estados Unidos, las Palaos y las Carolinas, a cambio de 25 millones de pesetas, ya que eran indefendibles por España.

¿Cómo fue el hundimiento del acorazado norteamericano Maine?

La tripulación del buque, constaba de 355 personas, estando formado por 26 oficiales, 290 marineros, y 39 infantes de marina. De estos, 261 perecieron en su hundimiento:

  • Dos oficiales y 251 marineros/infantes de marina, murieron en la explosión o en el hundimiento.
  • Siete más, fueron rescatados, pero murieron por las heridas recibidas.
  • Un oficial, murió posteriormente por una afección cerebral, causada por la explosión del barco…
  • De los 94 supervivientes, únicamente 19 resultaron heridos.

En enero del año 1898, el Maine fue enviado desde Cayo Hueso en el estado de Florida, a La Habana, para así proteger los intereses norteamericanos durante la guerra de la independencia cubana.

Tres semanas después, a las 21:40 del quince de febrero de 1898, hubo una explosión a bordo del acorazado Maine en el puerto de La Habana. Investigaciones posteriores revelaron que más de 5t de las cargas de pólvora de los cañones de 203 y 152 mm habían detonado, destruyendo un tercio de la parte delantera del buque.

Los restos del buque se hundieron rápidamente y quedaron en el fondo del puerto. La mayor parte de la tripulación se encontraba descansando en los dormitorios de tropa en la parte delantera del buque. Como hemos visto, 266 hombres perdieron la vida en la explosión o poco después, y otros ocho a consecuencia de sus heridas.

El capitán Sigsbee y la mayoría de los oficiales sobrevivieron a la explosión, ya que sus dormitorios estaban en la parte trasera del buque. En conjunto, hubo solo 89 supervivientes, de los que 18 eran oficiales. El veintiuno de marzo, un consejo de guerra naval en Cayo Hueso declaró que la causa de la explosión había sido una mina.

Los periódicos New York Journal y el New York World, que eran propiedad respectivamente de William Randolph Hearst y Joseph Pulitzer, dieron al hundimiento del acorazado Maine una intensa cobertura informativa, pero usaron tácticas de prensa amarilla.

Ambos periódicos exageraron y distorsionaron la información, alcanzando a veces la fabricación de noticias cuando no había disponible ninguna, que se ajustara a su línea editorial. Durante la semana siguiente al hundimiento, el Journal dedicaba ocho páginas y media a noticias, editoriales e imágenes sobre la tragedia.

Sus editores enviaron un equipo de reporteros y artistas a la Habana, incluido Frederic Remington y Hearst anunció una recompensa de 50.000 dólares para la captura de los culpables y para la condena de los criminales, que enviaron a 266 marinos americanos a la muerte.

El New York World, aunque sin llegar a los estridentes niveles y tono del Journal, entró sin embargo, en una teatralidad similar, insistiendo continuamente en que el Maine había sido bombardeado o minado.


Pulitzer decía en privado, que nadie fuera de un manicomio podía realmente creer que España había decidido destruir el Maine. Sin embargo, esto no detuvo al New York World en su insistencia de que la única expiación que España podía ofrecer a los Estados Unidos por la pérdida del buque y de la vida de sus marinos era la completa independencia de Cuba.

Se achacó a las autoridades españolas, que no hubieran garantizado la seguridad del puerto de La Habana. Los norteamericanos manipulados por las noticias que llegaban de la guerra en Cuba, fueron conducidos a un auténtico estado de histeria.

La destrucción del Maine no provocó la inmediata declaración de guerra a España. Sin embargo, creó una atmósfera, que prácticamente impedía una solución pacífica. La guerra comenzó en abril de 1898, dos meses después del hundimiento. Los defensores de la guerra comenzaron a utilizar el grito “¡Recordad el Maine, al infierno con España!”.


Hubo una investigación encargada por el Gobierno de España a los oficiales navales Del Peral y De Salas. Además, se encargó investigaciones al respecto a dos tribunales de la Armada estadounidense, el presidido por Sampson en el año1898 y el presidido por Vreeland en el año 1911.

El almirante Hyman G. Rickover encargó una investigación privada en el año 1976 acerca de la explosión. Posteriormente, la National Geographic Society realizó una investigación en el año 1999, utilizando simulaciones por ordenador. Todas las investigaciones llegaron a la conclusión de que fue la explosión de los almacenes de munición de proa la causante de la explosión del buque, pero tuvieron conclusiones diferentes sobre la causa de dicha explosión.

USS Maine (ACR 1)

El Maine hundido en la bahía de la Habana

Investigación española del año 1898

La investigación estaba encabezada por Del Peral y De Salas, reunió pruebas por mediación de los oficiales de artillería naval, que examinaron los restos del Maine. Del Peral y De Salas identificaron la combustión espontánea del carbón almacenado en las carboneras, localizadas junto a los almacenes de munición del Maine, como la causa de la explosión, aunque no se descartaba la posibilidad de que otros combustibles, como pinturas o productos secantes ocasionaran la explosión.

También, se incluían las siguientes observaciones:

  • Si hubiera sido una mina la causa de la explosión, se habría observado una columna de agua.
  • El viento y las aguas se encontraban en calma, por lo cual una mina de la época no podría haber sido detonada por contacto. Solo hubiera sido posible por electricidad, pero no se encontraron cables de ningún tipo.
  • No se encontraron peces muertos en el agua, como hubiera sido de esperar tras una explosión subacuática.
  • Los almacenes de munición normalmente no explotan cuando un buque se hunde tras impactar con una mina.

La prensa estadounidense de la época no informó de las conclusiones de esta investigación.

La Investigación de Sampson del año 1898

f10El gobierno de los Estados Unidos poco después del hundimiento ordenó la constitución de una comisión de investigación de la Armada, encabezada por el capitán William T Sampson. El gobernador español de Cuba, Ramón Blanco y Erenas había propuesto en su lugar una comisión conjunta hispano-estadounidense, Esta fue rechazada por el cónsul estadounidense en la isla.

El capitán Sigsbee había escrito que: “Muchos oficiales españoles, incluidos los representantes del General Blanco, están ahora con nosotros para expresarnos sus condolencias”.

En un telegrama, el ministro de Ultramar, Segismundo Moret, había aconsejado al gobernador Ramón Blanco “recoger todos los datos posibles que puedan probar que la tragedia del Maine no puede sernos atribuida.”

La armada norteamericana siguió el protocolo y se nombró al comandante en jefe de la escuadra del Atlántico Norte para hacerlo. El comandante, elaboró una lista de oficiales jóvenes para la Comisión.

Con el tiempo, se impusieron las regulaciones de la Armada y su presidencia recayó sobre el Capitán Sampson, que tenía un rango mayor que el de Sigsbee. La comisión empezó el veintiuno de febrero del año 1998 y tomó testimonio a los supervivientes, testigos y buzos enviados a investigar el pecio.

La comisión de Sampson concluyó sus resultados con dos partes:

  • El procedimiento, que consistía principalmente de testimonios, y las conclusiones, que fueron los hechos, según lo determinado por el tribunal.
  • La conclusión, el tribunal no dejó registros de cómo había llegado a las conclusiones basadas en los testigos, que eran frecuentemente incoherentes.

f9Otra inconsistencia fue que solo hubo un testigo técnico, el comandante George Converse, de la base de torpederos de Newport en Rhode Island. El Capitán Sampson leyó al comandante Converse una situación hipotética, en la que un fuego en una carbonera hiciera entrar en ignición los almacenes de proyectiles de 152 mm, con el resultado de una explosión que hundiera el buque.

Tras efectuar la lectura, preguntó al Comandante Converse sobre la factibilidad de tal escenario. Este simplemente afirmó, sin entrar en detalles, que no podía imaginarse cómo algo así podía suceder.

La Comisión concluyó que el Maine había sido volado por una mina, la cual había causado la explosión de los almacenes de munición de proa. Llegaron a esta conclusión basándose en el hecho, de que la mayoría de los testigos declararon, que habían oído dos explosiones y que esa parte de la quilla estaba doblada hacia adentro.

El informe oficial de la comisión, que se presentó al Departamento de la Armada en Washington, Distrito de Columbia, el 21 de marzo, especificaba lo siguiente:

“En la cuaderna 18 la quilla está partida en dos, y el doble fondo está roto en un ángulo similar al formado por las planchas del fondo exterior… En opinión del Tribunal, este efecto podría tener su origen en una única explosión de una mina situada bajo el fondo en torno a la cuaderna 18, y un poco a babor del buque” (parte del 5º hallazgo de la corte).

f8“En opinión del Tribunal, el Maine fue destruido por la explosión de una mina submarina que causó la explosión parcial de dos o más de sus almacenes de munición delanteros”. (7º hallazgo de la corte).

“El Tribunal no ha podido obtener evidencia de la fijación de la responsabilidad de la destrucción del Maine a cualquier persona o personas” (8º hallazgo de la corte).

La investigación de Vreeland del año 1911

Se tomó la decisión de hacer un segundo tribunal de investigación en el año 1910. Las razones fueron la recuperación de los cuerpos de las víctimas, que podrían ser enterradas en los Estados Unidos y también un deseo de realizar una investigación más a fondo.

El hecho de que el gobierno cubano quisiera que el pecio fuera retirado del puerto de La Habana, podría haber desempeñado un papel, por lo menos la oportunidad de examinar los restos del naufragio con mayor detalle, de lo que había sido posible en el año1898, al mismo tiempo que se llevaba a cabo el requerimiento cubano.

El hecho de que esta investigación pudiera celebrarse sin el riesgo de la guerra, como había sucedido en el año 1898, hizo que hubiera una mayor objetividad de la que había sido posible anteriormente. Además, se daba el caso de que varios de los miembros de la junta del año 1910 serían ingenieros certificados, y estarían más capacitados para evaluar los resultados, que los oficiales de la Armada en el año 1898.

f7A partir de diciembre del año 1910 se construyó una ataguía alrededor de los restos del naufragio y el agua fue bombeada fuera, dejando al descubierto los restos del naufragio a finales del año 1911.

Entre el veinte de noviembre y el dos de diciembre de 1911, un tribunal de investigación encabezada por el Almirante Charles Vreeland inspeccionó los restos. Llegaron a la conclusión de que una explosión externa había provocado la explosión de los almacenes de munición.

Sin embargo, esta explosión fue más hacia la popa y de menor potencia, que la indicada por la comisión de Sampson. La comisión de Vreeland también encontró, que la flexión de la cuaderna 18 fue causado por la explosión de los almacenes de munición, no por la explosión externa.

Después de la investigación, los restos humanos localizados fueron enterrados en el Cementerio Nacional de Arlington y la parte intacta del casco del Maine fue puesta a flote y hundida ceremonialmente en alta mar el dieciséis de marzo del año 1912.

Investigación del año 1974 de Rickover

f6El almirante Hyman Richover intrigado por el desastre, comenzó una investigación privada en el año 1974. Utilizando información de las dos comisiones oficiales, periódicos, documentación oficial e información sobre la construcción y municiones del Maine, llegó a la conclusión de que la explosión no estuvo causada por una mina.

En su lugar, se especuló con la entrada en autocombustión del carbón, que se encontraba en las carboneras cercanas a los pañoles de munición como la causa más probable. Rickover publicó en el año 1976, un libro acerca de esta especulación, titulado “How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed”.

Dana Wegner escribió “Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. Navy and the Spanish–American War” en el año 2001, donde revisó la investigación de Rickover, ofreciendo detalles adicionales.

Según Wegner, Rickover preguntó a historiadores navales de la Agencia para el Desarrollo e Investigación de la Energía acerca del Maine tras leer un artículo del Washington Star News en el cual su autor, John M. Taylor, afirmaba que la Armada de los Estados Unidos, “hizo uso de oficiales poco capacitados técnicamente durante la investigación de la tragedia”.

Los historiadores, que entonces trabajaban con el almirante en el estudio del programa de propulsión nuclear de la US Navy, respondieron al almirante que no tenían detalles acerca del hundimiento del Maine. Rickover preguntó a los historiadores si podían investigar el hundimiento, estos, ahora intrigados por el suceso, estuvieron de acuerdo.

Se estudiaron todos los documentos pertinentes al tema. Estos, incluían los planos del buque y los informes de riesgo semanales del Maine, del año 1912, del ingeniero jefe del proyecto, William Furgueson.

Estos informes incluían numerosas fotos y anotaciones de Furgueson con los números de cuadernas y tracas de las partes correspondientes del pecio. Dos expertos en demoliciones navales y explosiones, fueron incluidos en el equipo. A partir de lo que mostraban las fotos, estos indicaron que “no había ninguna evidencia plausible de penetración desde el exterior”, y que la explosión tuvo lugar en el interior del buque.

Dana Wegner sugería, que según el estudio de Rickover, la combinación del diseño del buque, y el cambio del tipo de carbón utilizado, pudo haber facilitado la explosión del buque. Explicó que hasta la época de la construcción del Maine, se usaban mamparos comunes para separar las carboneras de los almacenes de munición, y que los buques norteamericanos, utilizaban antracita para alimentar sus calderas.


Con el incremento de la construcción de buques de acero, la Armada de los Estados Unidos, comenzó a utilizar carbón bituminoso, que arde a una mayor temperatura, permitiendo por tanto alcanzar una mayor velocidad. Sin embargo, explicaba Wegner, mientras que la antracita no está sujeta a la autocombustión, el carbón bituminoso es considerablemente más volátil.

Ya se había informado de incendios en las carboneras de buques de la Armada antes del hundimiento del Maine, varios de los cuales estuvieron a punto de provocar explosiones. Wegner también citó, en el año 1997, el estudio de transferencia de calor, el cual concluía que un fuego en las carboneras del tipo sugerido por Rickover podría haber tenido lugar, detonando las municiones del buque.

La investigación del año 1998 por National Geographic

La National Geographic Magazine encargó, en el año 1998, un análisis a Advanced Marine Enterprises (AME). Esta investigación se realizó para conmemorar el centenario del hundimiento del Maine y se basó en modelos computerizados, una técnica que no estaba disponible en investigaciones anteriores.

Las conclusiones alcanzadas fueron que “aunque la autocombustión del carbón podría haber creado el nivel de temperatura de ignición para detonar los pañoles de munición adyacentes, esto no es probable que ocurriera en el Maine, ya que las planchas del fondo identificadas como sección 1 se habrían doblado hacia afuera, y no hacia adentro y que la suma de estos resultados, no es definitiva para probar que una mina fue la causa del hundimiento, pero sí para reforzar los argumentos a favor de esta teoría”.

Algunos expertos y varios analistas del AME, no estaban de acuerdo con esta conclusión. Wegner afirmaba que la opinión entre los integrantes del equipo de National Geographic estaba dividida entre los miembros más jóvenes que se centraban en los modelos computarizados, y los de más edad, que se basaron en su inspección de las fotos del pecio y su experiencia.


Añadían que los datos utilizados por AME concernientes al diseño y almacenamiento de munición del Maine eran defectuosos.

Investigación del año 2002 de History Channel

The History Channel produjo un episodio en el año 2002, un documental titulado “Death of The USS Maine” que utilizaba fotografías, expertos navales e información de archivos para determinar las causas de la explosión.

La conclusión a la que llegaron fue que el carbón de las carboneras causó la explosión, y se identificó un punto débil en el mamparo, que separaba las carboneras de los pañoles de munición, que podría haber permitido que el fuego pasara de las carboneras a los almacenes de munición.


Durante varios años, el Maine permaneció hundido en el puerto de la Habana, aunque era evidente que en algún momento debería ser retirado. El Maine ocupaba un valioso espacio y la acumulación de sedimento en torno a su casco amenazaba con crear un banco de arena.

El nueve de mayo del año 1910, el Congreso autorizó fondos para la retirada del Maine, para el traslado de los cadáveres de su interior, se calculaba que había unos ochenta muertos y para así enterrarlos en el Cementerio Nacional de Arlington, así como para la retirada y transporte a Arlington del mástil principal. En ese momento, el Congreso no solicitó una nueva investigación.

f3El Maine entrando en La Habana

El cuerpo de ingenieros de la Armada construyó ataguías alrededor del Maine y, una vez completadas, se bombeó el agua hacia el exterior. Desde el treinta de junio del año 1911, el pecio del Maine quedó a la vista. Por delante de la cuaderna 41, el buque estaba totalmente destruido, siendo una masa de acero retorcido y corroído que no se parecía en nada a un barco. El resto del buque estaba gravemente corroído.

Los ingenieros de la Armada desmantelaron las dañadas superestructuras y cubiertas, que se echaron al mar. A mitad de camino entre la proa y la popa se construyó un tabique de hormigón y madera para sellar la parte trasera del buque. Se abrieron orificios en el fondo de la sección posterior para extraer el agua y se sellaron posteriormente con válvulas de fondo, a través de las cuales se hundiría posteriormente el buque.

El trece de febrero del año 1912, los ingenieros comenzaron a bombear agua en el interior de las ataguías. Tres días más tarde, el interior del Maine estaba a flote. Dos días después, el Maine fue remolcado. Los cadáveres hallados en su interior fueron trasladados al acorazado USS North Carolina para su repatriación.

El dieciséis de marzo, el Maine fue remolcado a cuatro millas de Cuba. Se abrieron las válvulas de fondo y fue hundido a 1.150 m de profundidad mientras el Birmingham y el North Carolina disparaban salvas de saludo.

Durante el rescate, se encontraron 66 cadáveres, de los cuales solo uno pudo ser identificado y devuelto a su pueblo natal, los otros fueron enterrados en el Cementerio Nacional de Arlington, donde permanecen enterrados 229 de sus tripulantes.

f2El tratado de paz de París obligaba a España a renunciar a sus colonias americanas y Filipinas

Monumento al Maine de Nueva York

El monumento al Maine diseñado, en el año 1913, por Harold Van Buren Magonigle fue realizado en la ciudad de Nueva York. Localizado en la esquina suroeste de Central Park en la puerta comercial del parque. El monumento consiste en una torre central con una fuente en su base y esculturas de Attilio Piccirilli a su alrededor.

Un grupo escultórico de figuras de bronce doradas encima de la torre representan a Columbia Triunfante, su carro, está formado por una concha tirado por tres hipocampos. El bronce utilizado en este grupo presuntamente provenía del metal recuperado de los cañones del Maine.

Todo demuestra que fue un accidente y nunca participaron los españoles. Sin embargo, los norteamericanos no realizaron un estudio adecuado y tenían ya la resolución prefabricada de antemano para así acusar a los españoles y ser la excusa perfecta para declarar una guerra que sabían que ganarían fácilmente y se harían dueños prácticamente de todo el Caribe.

El modelo de Cuba fue posteriormente usado por los norteamericanos en otros conflictos para así intervenir desde una posición de superioridad.


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  • Clodfelter, Micheal. “Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Encyclopedia of Casualty and Other Figures, 1492-2015”. 2017. Jefferson, North Carolina. McFarland.
  • Dardé, Carlos. “La Restauración, 1875-1902. Alfonso XII y la regencia de María Cristina”. 1996. Madrid. Historia 16-Temas de Hoy.
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  • Gozalo Vaquero, Javier. “El desastre colonial”. 1996. Los Berrocales del Jarama. Akal. Torrejón de Ardoz.
  • Hugh, Thomas. “La explosión del Maine”. 1997. Memoria del 98.
    Keenan, Jerry. “Encyclopedia of the Spanish American&Philippine-America wars”. 2001. ABC-CLIO.
  • Pérez Joseph. “Historia de España”. 2000.
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  • Siracusa Jordi. “Adiós, Habana, adiós”. 2005.
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  • Tucker, Spencer. “The Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars: a political, social ans military History”. Volume I. 2009. ABC-CLIO.
  • Ycelay Da Cal, Enric. “Cuba y el despertar de los nacionalismos en la España peninsular”. 1997.
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El David Bruce Centre for American Studies de la Keele University en Inglaterra, acaba de anunicar el inicio de su ciclo de conferencias virtuales.  Estas son completamente gratuitas y abordarán temas muy diversos de la historia estadouidense. Entre ellas destaca, dado el contexto electoral actual, la charla que dictará el Dr. Adam Fairclough sobre la elección de 1876, tal vez la más controversial en la historia de Estados Unidos. Comparto con mis lectores el programa de este ciclo de conferencias.

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David Bruce Centre for American Studies Seminar Programme

Semester 1, 2020/21

October 14, 2020

Dr Patrick Andelic, Northumbria University

‘We Came Here To Take the Bastille’: The Watergate Babies and the Democratic Party in Congress after 1974

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November 4, 2020

Dr Rebecca Macklin, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities and Bruce Centre Research Fellow

Relationality as Decolonial Method: Reading Resistance Across Native American and South African Literatures

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November 18, 2020

Prof. Adam Fairclough. Leiden University (Emeritus)

Parade of Perjurers: The Potter Committee and the Stolen Elections of 1876

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 November 25, 2020

Dr Maria Flood, Keele University

‘The film we’ve been waiting for’: Audience, Emotion, and Black Boyhood iMoonlight (2016)

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La supresión o anulación del derecho al voto ha sido un tema recurrente en la actual campaña electoral estadounidense. Comparto este artículo en el que el historiador Mark Krasovic nos recuerda que esta es una práctica muy presente en la historia estadounidense. Para ello analizará las tácticas usadas por el Partido Republicano para suprimir el derecho al voto en el estado de New Jersey en la década de 1980. El Dr. Krasovic es profesor de historia de Estados Unidos en la Universidad de Rutgers.

How Voter Suppression Imperils the Midterms - Progressive.org

Trump’s encouragement of GOP poll watchers echoes an old tactic of voter intimidation

The Conversation   September 30, 2020

During the first presidential debate, Donald Trump was asked by moderator Chris Wallace if he would “urge” his followers to remain calm during a prolonged vote-counting period after the election, if the winner were unclear.

“I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that is what has to happen, I am urging them to do it,” Trump said. “I hope it’s going to be a fair election, and if it’s a fair election, I am 100 percent on board, but if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.”

This wasn’t the first time Trump has said he wants to recruit poll watchers to monitor the vote. And to some, the image of thousands of Trump supporters crowding into polling places to monitor voters looks like voter intimidation, a practice long used in the U.S. by political parties to suppress one side’s vote and affect an election’s outcome.

In the history of voter suppression in the U.S. – including attempts to stop Black and Latino people from voting – Republican tactics in the 1981 New Jersey gubernatorial race are worth highlighting. That incident sparked a court order – a “consent decree” – forbidding the GOP from using a variety of voter intimidation methods, including armed poll watchers.

The 2020 presidential election will be the first in nearly 40 years conducted without the protections afforded by that decree.

The National Ballot Security Task Force

In November 1981, voters in several cities saw posters at polling places printed in bright red letters. “WARNING,” they read. “This area is being patrolled by the National Ballot Security Task Force.”

And voters soon encountered the patrols themselves. About 200 were deployed statewide, many of them uniformed and carrying guns.

In Trenton, patrol members asked a Black voter for her registration card and turned her away when she didn’t produce it. Latino voters were similarly prevented from voting in Vineland, while in Newark some voters were physically chased from the polls by patrolmen, one of whom warned a poll worker not to stay at her post after dark. Similar scenes played out in at least two other cities, Camden and Atlantic City.

Weeks later, after a recount, Republican Thomas Kean won the election by fewer than 1,800 votes.

Democrats, however, soon won a significant victory. With local civil rights activists, they discovered that the “ballot security” operation was a joint project of the state and national Republican committees. They filed suit in December 1981, charging Republicans with “efforts to intimidate, threaten and coerce duly qualified black and Hispanic voters.”

In November 1982, the case was settled when the Republican committees signed a federal consent decree – a court order applicable to activities anywhere in the U.S. – agreeing not to use race in selecting targets for ballot security activities and to refrain from deploying armed poll watchers.

That order expired in 2018 after Democrats failed to convince a judge to renew it.

As a professor who teaches and writes about New Jersey history, I’m alarmed by the expiration because I know that Republicans in 1981 relied not only on armed poll watchers but also on a history of white vigilantism and intimidation in the Garden State. These issues resonate today in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement and continued GOP attempts to suppress the 2020 vote in numerous states.

 U.S. Rep. John Lewis with House Democrats before passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act to eliminate potential state and local voter suppression laws, Dec. 29, 2019. The Senate has not taken up the bill. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite  

The Republican ‘ballot security’ plan

Considered an early referendum on Ronald Reagan’s presidency, New Jersey’s 1981 gubernatorial race held special meaning for Republicans nationwide. Kean – with campaign manager Roger Stone at the helm – promised corporate tax cuts and relied heavily on Reagan’s endorsement.

To secure victory, state and national Republican party officials devised a project they claimed would prevent Democratic cheating at the polls.

In the summer of 1981, the Republican National Committee sent an operative named John A. Kelly to New Jersey to run the ballot security effort. Kelly had first been hired by the Republican National Committee in 1980 to work in the Reagan campaign, and he served as one of the RNC’s liaisons to the Reagan White House.

Later, after he was revealed as the organizer of the National Ballot Security Task Force – and after The New York Times discovered that he had lied about graduating from Notre Dame and had been arrested for impersonating a police officer – Republicans distanced themselves from him.

In August 1981, under the guise of the National Ballot Security Task Force, Kelly sent about 200,000 letters marked “return to sender” to voters in heavily Black and Latino districts. Those whose letters were returned had their names added to a list of voters to be challenged at the polls on Election Day, a tactic known as voter caging.

In the Newark area, Kelly produced a list of 20,000 voters whom he deemed potentially fraudulent. He then hired local operatives to organize patrols, ostensibly to keep such fraud at bay. To run the Newark operation, he hired Anthony Imperiale.

Newark’s white vigilante

Imperiale, in turn, hired off-duty police officers and employees of his private business, the Imperiale Security Police, to patrol voting sites in the city.

The gun-toting, barrel-chested former Marine had first adopted the security role during Newark’s 1967 uprising – five days of protests and a deadly occupation of the city by police and the National Guard following the police beating of a Black cab driver. During the uprising, Imperiale organized patrols of his predominantly white neighborhood to keep “the riots” out.

Soon, Imperiale became a hero of white backlash politics. His opposition to police reform earned him widespread support from law enforcement. And his fight against Black housing development in Newark’s North Ward delighted many of his neighbors. By the end of the 1970s, Hollywood was making a movie based on his activities.

Actress Frances Fisher arrives to speak at a downtown rally in Los Angeles, California on May 19, 2016, to bring attention to voter suppression. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

After serving as an independent in both houses of the state legislature, Imperiale became a Republican in 1979. Two years later, he campaigned with Kean. Once in office, the new governor named Imperiale director of a new one-man state Office of Community Safety – an appointment often interpreted as reward for Imperiale’s leadership of the ballot efforts in Newark, but stymied when Democrats refused to fund the position.

Outcome and legacy

Despite Kean’s slim margin of victory, Democrats at the time were careful not to claim that Republican voter suppression efforts had decided the election. (In 2016, the former Democratic candidate claimed they did indeed make the difference.)

Rather, the state and national Democratic committees brought suit against the Republican National Committee to ensure it couldn’t again use such methods anywhere. For nearly 40 years – through amendments and challenges – the resulting consent decree helped curtail voter suppression tactics.

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Since the decree’s expiration in 2018, Republicans have ramped up their recruitment of poll watchers for the 2020 presidential election. Last November, Trump campaign lawyer Justin Clark – calling the decree’s absence “a huge, huge, huge, huge deal” for the party – promised a larger, better-funded and “more aggressive” program of Election Day operations.

The Trump campaign is claiming, as Republicans did in 1981, that Democrats “will be up to their old dirty tricks” and has vowed to “cover every polling place in the country” with workers to ensure an honest election and reelect the president.

This November, Republican tactics in 1981 are worth remembering. They demonstrate that the safeguarding of polling places from supposedly fraudulent voters and of public places from Black bodies share not only a logic. They also share a history.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on August 10, 2020.

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El voto por correo se ha convertido en un tema controversial en las elecciones presidenciales estadounidense. Donald J. Trump ha cuestionado, sin evidencia, la transparencia del voto por correo, alegando que facilitaría un fraude masivo que le podría costar la reelección. No voy analizar la validez de las alegaciones del Presidente, pues ese no es el objetivo de este blog. Lo que pretendo hacer es colocar el tema en su contexto  compartiendo un breve artículo de Jessica Pearce Rotondi titulado «Vote-by-Mail Programs Date Back to the Civil War«.  Publicado en la revista History, este ensayo confirma la antigüedad y utilidad que el voto por correo ha tenido en la historia de Estados Unidos.



Jessica Pearce Rotondi


History   September 24, 2020


Voting by mail can trace its roots to soldiers voting far from home during the Civil War and World War II. By the late 1800s, some states were extending absentee ballots

to civilian voters under certain conditions, but it wasn’t until 2000 that Oregon became the first state to move to an all-mail voting system. Here is everything you need to know about the history of absentee voting and vote by mail.

What Does the Constitution Say About Voting?

There is no step-by-step guide to voting in the United States Constitution. Article 1, Section 4 says that it’s up to each state to determine “The Times, Places and Manner

of holding Elections.” This openness has enabled the voting process in the United States to evolve as the country’s needs have changed.

The Founding Fathers voted by raising their voices—literally. Until the early 19th century, all eligible voters cast their “Viva Voce” (voice vote) in public. While the number of people eligible to vote in that era was low and primarily composed of land- owning white males, turnout hovered around 85 percent, largely due to enticing voting parties held at polling stations.

The first paper ballots appeared in the early 19th century and were originally blank pieces of paper. By the mid-1800s, they had gone to the other extreme: political

parties printed tickets with the names of every candidate pre-filled along party lines. It wasn’t until 1888 that New York and Massachusetts became the first states to adopt pre-printed ballots with the names of all candidates (a style called the “Australian ballot” after where it was created). By then, another revolution in voting had taken place: Absentee voting.

The first widespread instance of absentee voting in the United States was during theCivil War. The logistics of a wartime election were daunting: “We cannot have free government without elections,” President Abraham Lincoln told a crowd outside theWhite House in 1864, “and if the rebellion could force us to forgo, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.

Captura de pantalla 2020-10-03 a la(s) 17.59.53.png

 Union Army soldiers lined up to vote in the 1864 election during the American Civil War.
Interim Archives/Getty Images 


“Lincoln was concerned about the outcome of the midterm elections,” says Bob Stein, Director of the Center for Civic Leadership at Rice University. “Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, pointed out that there were a lot of Union soldiers who couldn’t vote, so the president encouraged states to permit them to cast their ballots from the field.” (There was some precedent for Lincoln’s wish; Pennsylvania became the first state to offer absentee voting for soldiers during the War of 1812.)

In the 1864 presidential election between Lincoln and George McClellan, 19 Union states changed their laws to allow soldiers to vote absentee. Some states permitted soldiers to name a proxy to vote for them back home while others created polling sites in the camps themselves. Approximately 150,000 out of one million soldiers voted in the election, and Lincoln carried a whopping 78 percent of the military vote.

By the late 1800s, several states offered civilians the option of absentee voting, though they had to offer an accepted excuse, most commonly distance or illness. The passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870 and 19th Amendment in 1920 expanded the number of eligible voters in the United States, but it would take another war to propel absentee voting back into the national spotlight.

Absentee Voting in World War II

Absentee voting re-entered the national conversation during World War II, when “both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman encouraged military voting,” says Stein. The Soldier Voting Act of 1942 permitted all members of the military overseas to send their ballots from abroad. Over 3.2 million absentee ballots were cast during the war. The act was amended in 1944 and expired at war’s end.

Captura de pantalla 2020-10-03 a la(s) 18.01.36

GI’s on the fighting fronts in Italy, Capt. William H. Atkinson of Omaha, Nebraska, swears in Cpl. Tito Fargellese of Boston, Massachusetts , before Fargellese cast his ballot for the 1944 election.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Legislation passed throughout the next few decades made voting easier for servicemen and women and their families: The Federal Voting Assistance Act of 1955; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) in 1986; and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment, or MOVE Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2009.


States Expand Vote by Mail

“Before the civil rights movement., it was largely members of the military, expats and people who were truly disabled or couldn’t get to their jurisdiction who were permitted to vote absentee,” says Stein. While most historians cite California as the first state to offer no-excuse absentee voting, Michael Hanmer, research director of the Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement at the University of Maryland, says it was actually Washington state that made the switch in 1974.

Other Western states soon followed: “Western states are newer, have the biggest rural areas, the most land and are doing the most pioneering work,” says Lonna Atkeson, Director of the Center for the Study of Voting, Elections, and Democracy at the University of New Mexico. “Their progressive values played a role in their political culture.”

Oregon became the first state to switch to vote by mail exclusively in 2000. Washington followed in 2011.

EAVS Deep Dive: Early, Absentee and Mail Voting | U.S. Election Assistance  Commission

Did You Know? It took The Vietnam War for the voting age to be lowered to 18 with the ratification of the 26th amendment.

2020 Election: Which States Offer Voting by Mail?

The 2020 presidential election takes place in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, when concerns about virus transmission in crowds caused lawmakers to rethink rules around appearing in person to vote. For the first time in history, at least 75 percent of Americans are able to vote absentee.

In the 2020 election:

· Thirty-four U.S. states offer no-excuse absentee voting or permit registered voters to cite COVID-19 as their reason to vote absentee.

· Nine states and Washington, D.C. mail all ballots directly to voters: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, New Jersey, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

· Seven states—Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas—require voters to give a reason other than COVID-19 to vote absentee.

How to Vote by Mail

Ballots that go through the mail can be divided into two categories: Absentee ballots, typically requested by people who are unable to vote in person for physical reasons, and mail-in ballots, which are automatically provided to all eligible voters in states with all-mail voting systems.

The rules around voting by mail vary from state to state.

“When are ballots due? Postmarked? Federalism is a beautiful thing, but it’s complex because each state does something different,” says Atkeson. “In the end, access and security make for a well-run election and makes people feel that their vote is counted.”

How does vote-by-mail work and does it increase election fraud?

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Acaba de ser publicado el número 19 de la revista digital Huellas de Estados Unidos. En esta ocasión incluye una sección con la opinión de varios expertos latinoamericanos sobre el posible resultado de las elecciones presidenciales en Estados Unidos. Este  número incluye además, una interesante selección de artículos entre los que llaman poderosamente mi atención dos trabajos sobre las relaciones internacionales de Argentina y Estados Unidos. También destacan un ensayo de Sven Beckert sobre el algodón y la guerra civil, y el trabajo de Diego Alexander Olivera examinando el pensamiento político de los hermanos Kagan. Felicitamos y agradecemos a los editores de Huellas de Estados Unidos.


Huellas de Estados Unidos / #19 / Octubre 2020

Edicion 19

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