Nov. 3, 1868

A campaign flier from the 1868 presidential election promoting the candidacy of Ulysses S. Grant for president and Schuyler Colfax for vice president. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In the first presidential race in the wake of the Civil War, newly enfranchised Black men in the South cast their first ballots. Their 700,000 votes helped elect Republican Ulysses S. Grant, whose campaign theme was, “Let us have peace.” 

In popular vote, he narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent, who demanded a restoration of states’ rights, which included the right to bar Black Americans from voting. Grant won by only 306,000 votes. 

In his inaugural address, he talked of unity. “The country having just emerged from a great rebellion, many questions will come,” he said. “It is desirable that they should be approached calmly, without prejudice, hate, or sectional pride, remembering that the greatest good to the greatest number is the object to be attained.”

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.