Ulysses S. Grant photo

Special Message

December 14, 1876

To the Senate of the United States:

In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 6th instant, requesting information "as to whether troops of the United States were stationed at the city of Petersburg, in the State of Virginia, on the 7th of November, 1876, and, if so, under what authority and for what purpose," I submit the inclosed letters from the Secretary of War, to whom the resolution was referred, together with the report of the General of the Army and accompanying papers.

These inclosures will give all the information called for by the resolution, and I confidently believe will justify the action taken. It is well understood that the presence of United States troops at polling places never prevented the free exercise of the franchise by any citizen, of whatever political faith. If, then, they have had any effect whatever upon the ballot cast, it has been to insure protection to the citizen casting it, in giving it to the candidate of his unbiased choice, without fear, and thus securing the very essence of liberty. It may be the presence of twenty-four United States soldiers, under the command of a captain and lieutenant, quartered in the custom-house at Petersburg, Va., on the 7th of November, at a considerable distance from any polling place, without any interference on their part whatever, and without going near the polls during the election, may have secured a different result from what would have been obtained if they had not been there (to maintain the peace in case of riot) on the face of the returns , but if such is the case it is only proof that in this one Congressional district in the State of Virginia the legal and constitutional voters have been able to return as elected the candidate of their choice.


Ulysses S. Grant, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/203571

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives