Nov. 3, 1868
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.”