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Letter: 1876 election still resounds today

People gather outside the West Wing of the

People gather outside the West Wing of the White House on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, as they wait for the arrival of President-elect Donald Trump for a meeting with President Barack Obama. Credit: AP

By Monday, when the Electoral College is due to cast ballots, it’s very likely Hillary Clinton will be up by close to 3 million in the popular vote [“Stop being a sore winner,” Editorial, Nov. 29].

That’s a huge number, but it won’t change the outcome. Democrats once even won the popular vote and the electoral vote and lost the presidency.

In 1876, New York State Gov. Samuel Tilden, a Democrat, finished the presidential race with a 3 percent lead in the popular vote over Republican Rutherford Hayes. Tilden also held a lead in the Electoral College, so Republican Party leaders devised a way to invalidate thousands of Democratic votes in Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana.

The Democrats challenged the result, and a special commission consisting of 10 members of Congress, five from each party, and five members of the Supreme Court (three Republicans and two Democrats) was set up to investigate. They voted 8 to 7 to give the election to Hayes.

Northern Democrats were incensed. Southern Democrats said they would not challenge the commission’s results if Hayes would remove the last federal troops from the South. This left African-Americans largely abandoned and led to the imposition of poll taxes, literacy tests and the intimidation of black voters.

The federal government has continued its policy of abandoning blacks with the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Martin Levinson, Riverhead