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The Dirty Days of America's Elections

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Widespread unemployment, a country in turmoil and a coming presidential election that had the whole country’s attention. But this wasn't 2020 – it was 1876. So, what lessons does a presidential election that happened 144 years ago have for us today? 

In 1876, the country was barely 10 years out of the Civil War. President Lincoln was dead and his party was struggling to retain their hold against Southern Democrats, who, although vanquished, were gathering strength in the confusion of the Reconstruction years. The presidential race pitted former Union General Rutherford B. Hayes against New York Governor Samuel Tilden, but from all accounts, people weren't excited about either candidate. This was a political war between parties and things got dirty. We'll look at how it played out and the lasting implications and lessons for own upcoming election this Friday at noon. 


  • Dr. Matthew Pinsker, Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History and professor of history at Dickinson College. He is the author of Lincoln's Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soliders' Home. [ Bookshop | Amazon]  
  • Dr. Stephanie McCurry, R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History in Honor of Dwight D. Eisenhower at Columbia University. Her most recent book is Women's War: Fighting and Surviving the American Civil War. [ Bookshop | Amazon| Audible