The Compromise of 1877

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The Compromise of 1877

The final blow to Reconstruction came with the 1876 presidential election. The Democrats nominated Samuel Tilden. The Republicans chose Rutherford B. Hayes. The votes in few of the states were so close that both the Democrats and Republicans claimed victory. A special commission of seven Republicans, seven Democrats, and one Independent were to figure out the problem.

The electoral votes of Oregon were also disputed. In total there were 20 disputed electoral votes. The Democrats needed only one vote to win, but the Republicans needed all 20. With the electoral votes from the four disputed states, Hayes would have 185 electoral votes and would win the election. Tilden however had won the popular vote by 200,000 votes. After the Independent commissioner resigned, the post was filled with a Republican. The Republicans controlled the commission and gave all 20 votes to Hayes. However, the Compromise of 1877 gave in to Democrats on several issues.

  • Removal of federal troops from the South

  • Railroads would be built to connect the South to the West Coast

  • Federal funds would be given to South for construction projects

  • Hayes would appoint a Democrat to his cabinet

  • Democrat promise to respect African Americans’ civil rights

As a result, Hayes became president.

  1. Why was Hayes able to win the Election of 1876?

  2. Why would the Democrats agree to these terms and give the Republicans the presidency?

  3. Why did the Election of 1876 bring an end to Reconstruction?

  4. Do you think this was the right thing to do by the Republicans? Why?

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