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The Election Case of Lewis V. Bogy of Missouri (1873)

Lewis Bogy
Lewis Bogy Library of Congress

Issues
Electoral misconduct: allegations of bribery and corruption.

Chronology
Memorial received: Mar. 17, 1873
Referred to committee: Mar. 17, 1873
Committee report: Mar. 25, 1873
Senate vote: Mar. 25, 1873

Result: Retained seat



Background
Caught between the pull of southern cultural traditions and the attraction of frontier opportunity, post-Civil War Missouri opted for the wealth promised by commercial development. Thus, Reconstruction politics brought only a mild stir to Missouri as the state concentrated on the industrial growth encouraged by a new constitution friendly to corporate ventures. When the Missouri legislature elected Lewis V. Bogy, Democratic president of the St. Louis city council, to the United States Senate, the dispute over that election in 1873 proved mild in comparison to the violent contests that characterized the states of the Deep South.

Statement of the Case
On March 4, 1873, Lewis Bogy took his seat in the Senate. On March 17, the Senate received, and referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections, a memorial from several members of the Missouri legislature charging that Bogy had secured his seat through bribery and corruption.

The following day, Bogy demanded that the Senate move promptly to investigate the matter. "It is true," he said, "our contests in the West for this distinguished position, as is known to western Senators upon this floor, are always attended by heat and animation, and success is no easy matter." He insisted, however, that an inquiry by the state legislature had already exonerated him from any wrongdoing, although it had uncovered some attempts at bribery by another candidate. Bogy contended that the memorial sent to the Senate by his political opponents offered no new evidence but simply complained that the investigation by the Democratic legislature had been hasty and incomplete. He requested speedy action by the Committee on Privileges and Elections, pointing out that he did not consider it appropriate for him to vote on any of the other election cases pending before the Senate while he himself was under investigation.

Response of the Senate
A week later, on March 25, 1873, the Committee on Privileges and Elections reported that the evidence in the Missouri memorial was vague and unworthy of further Senate consideration. The Missouri complainants had not presented sufficient information to convince the committee that the Senate should launch its own investigation.

That same day, the members agreed without debate and discharged the committee from further consideration of the subject. Bogy thus retained his seat.

Conclusion
The Senate was glad to dispose quickly of one contested election in an era when an abundance of other challenges required its attention. Once his case was resolved, Bogy took an active part in the debates over the Louisiana elections as a critic of the Republican governor's tactics. Bogy remained in the Senate until his death in 1877.


Source: Adapted from Anne M. Butler and Wendy Wolff. United States Senate Election, Expulsion, and Censure Cases, 1793-1990. S. Doc. 103-33. Washington, GPO, 1995.

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