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Photo of the Week #113

Bruce Wrighton

Bruce Wrighton Tioga County Courthouse, Owego, New York, 1987

Tioga County Courthouse, Owego, New York, 1987


November 2, 2020
The Tioga County Courthouse was built in 1871, during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, and the Reconstruction era following the Civil War. That same year, Grant signed the Civil Rights Act of 1871, one of three bills known as the Enforcement Acts. These were laws passed by the US Congress in an effort to protect Black Americans' right to vote, hold office, serve on juries, and receive equal protection under the law. In the end, popular support of Grant's administration, and the Reconstruction effort, was undermined by scandals like the Whiskey Ring, in which distillers bribed government officials in exchange for help in evading taxes.

America is a young country, yet old enough to have a long history in which the ideals of representative democracy have struggled with the realities of entrenched inequality and corruption. In the 150 years since Reconstruction, Americans have seen wave after wave of change, yet the same underlying challenge remains - defining what it means to truly have equal protection under the law, an idea that is still fiercely debated. The great beauty of the American experiment is that every four years, we're offered the opportunity to cast a vote, in an effort to guide us closer to the ideals in our founding documents. With that in mind, let us join the chorus imploring you to vote