The Compromies of 1877
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By 1876, federal troops had been withdrawn from all of the southern states except for South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana and the Democrats had returned to power in all the southern states except for those three. This would play a key role in the presidential election of 1876, which was perhaps the most disputed presidential election in American history.
The nation was tired of Reconstruction policies that kept federal troops in the South and the scandals and corruption that had occurred during Grants administration. The economic depression that followed the panic of 1873 further troubled the Republican party. The Republicans nominated Rutherford B. Hayes, governor of Ohio and was untouched by the corruption of Grant‘s administration, as a candidate. His Democratic opponent, Governor Samuel J. Tilden of New York, also promised change and made a name for himself by fighting the corrupt Tweed Ring.
Tilden won the popular vote majority and the Democrats expected to be in the White House but fell one vote short of the electoral majority of 185 needed to win. In the three Southern states, the returns were contested. Twenty votes were disputed with nineteen coming from the three states that still had Reconstruction governments, and one from Oregon.
The parties submitted two differing sets of electoral returns from these states and each claimed victory. Congress, split along party lines, was unable to decide the issue impartially. To determine the authenticity of the disputed returns, a special electoral commission was created to determine who was entitled to the disputed votes of the three states. The commission, composed of eight Republicans and seven Democrats, awarding the disputed votes and the presidency to Hayes in a straight party vote of 8-7. In return for a peaceful inauguration, the Republicans removed all federal troops from the southern states in what is known as the Compromise of 1877, which ended Reconstruction.
In the months following the Election of 1876, but prior to the inauguration in March 1877, Republican and Democratic leaders secretly hammered out a compromise to resolve the election impasse and address other outstanding issues. Under the terms of this agreement, the Democrats agreed to accept the Republican presidential electors provided the Republicans would agree to the following to certain terms. These terms were to withdraw federal troops from their remaining positions in the South, to enact federal legislation that would spur industrialization in the South, to appoint Democrats to patronage positions in the South, to construct a transcontinental railroad in the South and to appoint at least one Southern Democrat to Hayes cabinet