Presidential Election of 1876

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Hayes, Rutherford B. (1).jpg
Governors portrait of Rutherford B. Hayes that hangs in the Ohio Statehouse. Hayes served serve three, two year terms as Governor of Ohio from 1868-1872 and 1875-1876. He did not finish his third term because he was elected President in 1876.

The presidential election of 1876 led to the end of Reconstruction. In this election, the Republican Party nominated Rutherford B. Hayes, an Ohioan, while the Democratic Party ran Samuel Tilden, a New Yorker. Tilden won the popular vote by 250,000 votes, but a dispute arose in the Electoral College. The voting returns from South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, and Oregon were contested. If Hayes received the Electoral College votes from these states, he would win the election by a single vote (185 to 184), despite losing the popular vote.

The United States Congress appointed a special committee to determine how the disputed votes were to be counted. Initially, seven Democrats, seven Republicans, and one independent served on the committee. The independent eventually withdrew, and the Congress selected a Republican to replace him. The special committee voted to give Hayes all of the disputed Electoral College votes. The United States House of Representatives and Senate still had to agree to the committee's decision. The Republican-dominated Senate quickly ratified the committee's decision. The Democrats in the House planned to filibuster, refusing to let the issue come to a vote.

To ensure Hayes's election, Republican leaders negotiated an agreement with Southern Democrats in the House. The Republicans agreed to remove federal troops policing the South as soon as Hayes became president. Hayes also agreed to have at least one Southerner appointed to his cabinet. Southern Democrats welcomed this agreement and permitted Hayes to win all of the disputed Electoral votes. With the removal of Northern soldiers from the South, white Southerners were successful in denying African Americans their rights. Southern Democrats also succeeded in redeeming their state governments from Republican control. In essence, the Compromise of 1877, as the bargain between Southern Democrats and the Republicans became known, brought Reconstruction to an end by ending the Northern occupation of the South.

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