James Rivers, M.A.


Education: Bachelor of Arts in history (May 2005)

Master of Arts in heritage resources from Northwestern State University

McNair Project: Elections in South Carolina 1876-1879: The Process to Protect Voting Rights of African Americans and the Apparatus to Frustrate Elections (2004)

Mentor: Lou Falkner Williams, Ph.D.

The consensus among American historians is that President Rutherford B. Hayes' removal of the last troops from South Carolina in 1877 marked the end of federal efforts to protect the black vote, and thus, Reconstruction. However, federal records demonstrate that federal courts and officials continued prosecuting voting rights cases in South Carolina after 1877. Despite federal efforts, white South Carolinians frustrated the prosecutions' to safeguard the voting rights of blacks. Violence, fraudulent elections, intimidation, and state legislative actions became the apparatus whites utilized to control elections. Meanwhile, The United States Supreme Court and white South Carolinians shaped most of the judicial policies and legislative actions that allowed whites to circumvent the federal courts in the years 1873-79. The South Carolina legislature created statutes converting the election process of 1876, 1878, and subsequent elections. The legislators adjusted laws in the following years; however, the altering changes were complete before the 1880 election.