A decade before Abram Hewitt defeated Henry George's bid for mayor of New York in 1886, he delivered a more lasting blow to the American Left. A prominent northern congressman and chair of the Democratic National Committee, Hewitt played a central role in negotiating the notorious Compromise of 1877, which conceded victory in a contested presidential election to the Republican Party in exchange for the withdrawal of federal troops that had occupied the former Confederacy since the Civil War. That arrangement freed Southern Democrats to use fraud, intimidation, and outright terrorism to deprive most African Americans and many poor whites of the right to vote; it also gave wealthy landowners and industrialists unchallenged hegemony in the South and tremendous influence in the nation as a whole. When leftists won elections in New York and other northern states, whether as Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, or Progressives, their influence was constrained severely by the disenfranchisement of working-class voters and the weakness of organized labor in the "Solid South." Not until a coalition of civil rights organizations, interracial unions, women's clubs, and left-wing groups set out to "re-align" the Democratic Party during the Second World War did the Left begin to transcend the legacy of 1877.


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pp. 70-72
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