Schuyler Colfax was the Vice President of the United States under Ulysses S. Grant and later President of the United States (1873-1881).


Schuyler Colfax served as Ulysses S. Grant's Vice President until later splitting from Grant during his administration and subsequently winning the Republican nomination. Although a moderate who was willing to give both moderates and radicals a free audience, increased violence in the post-bellum American South and the tide of increasing radicalism had swept Colfax away. In order to further his political career, he reasoned, he must adapt to the changing political climate. To this end, he had run on a platform promising to punish the South for its treason. It was under him that the term War on Treason was coined, and it eventually became the official name for the conventional war and the counter-guerilla operations conducted soon afterward. Colfax made no promises of reconciling with the South, and instead pledged that he would do whatever it takes to root out Redeemer (as the pro-Confederate movement called itself) influence within Southern government. Reconciliation and compromise, he reasoned, would only allow the South enough time to once again rebel or institute their policies, chief among them slavery. Colfax cited Grant’s policies of decreasing Union military presence in the South and its aftereffects as evidence of this. Because of increased fear among the Northern populace of renewed Southern aggression, the newly-enfranchised black population’s fear of Jim Crow rising from the dead and the inability of most Southerners to vote for the president, Colfax’s campaign worked marvelously.

Although Colfax had promised a hard line against the South, he still realized that a military occupation of the South could not last ad infinitum. To this end, he gradually relaxed the requirements for re-admittance to the Union as his first term wore on. By the election of 1876, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas and Virginia had been readmitted to the Union. The success of his management of Reconstruction earned Colfax re-election and by the time his second term ended, only Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina remained under United States military occupation. By the end of his second term, only South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union, was not yet readmitted.

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