American Elections Of 1876 Research Paper

Length: 5 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Government Type: Research Paper Paper: #28743408 Related Topics: Election, Presidential Election, United States Presidential Election, Jim Crow Laws
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Shady American Elections of 1876

The most corruption ridden, heinous and questionable presidential election in American history had only just begun. During the presidential campaign, Rutherford was blasted by Tilden's opposition labeling him thief, briber and a drunkard. Eyebrows were raised in states controlled by Republican about voting fraud; armed and dangerous bigoted white democrats had enveloped the South thwarting blacks from voting in elections. Hence in the aftermath, South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida were judged too close to call. With these states still in-pending, Tilden was short of one electrical vote of 185 as written in the constitution to win an election. Hayes captured 165 electoral votes; now he just needed 20 electoral votes to win from these mentioned three states to attain the president's seat. The crisis began slowly leading up to the threat of a civil war which finally concluded behind the curtain deal, popularly known as Compromise of 1877 as per which Hayes was the elected president whilst withdrawing federal troops in the South which ended with Reconstruction (King).

Elections 1876

The United States of America celebrated its birth year, 1876 after a perplexing and troublesome scandal over the rightful candidacy of the president. Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican winner won the electoral vote while losing the popular vote, 185 to 184 with considerable help from a series of election rigging stints in South, but the recounts were confirmed by Electoral Commission in Washington as a valid party vote. Meanwhile every living historian reading through the history certainly agrees upon Samuel Jones Tilden (the Democratic candidate) as the deserving winner from the elections in what is known as the most corrupt ridden elections in American history (Harmon).

Southern whites had total control over the southern states by 1876 with the exception of Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina. Their preferable method of restoring peace and white rule was by terrorization and violence. Often, Federal troops were dispatched to south to maintain peace and protection of Freedman and his followers. But with the passage of time, congress was less than enthusiastic and willing to safeguard the rights promised to Freedman as per the 14th amendment. Freedman wielded significant influence even after eleven years subsequent to Civil War in South Carolina government. But their rule was being met with forceful antagonism. Hence, efforts were made to prevent their participation in elections after 1876 elections. Congress was at cross roads about whether to support Freedman and his advocates or cancel its Reconstruction policy and give white southerners sovereignty over ruling citizens of South Carolina (Ladenburg)

With 110, 744 legitimate black voters and 74, 199 legitimate white voters, the election of 1876 were the closest in American election history. Both Democrats and Republicans asserted their triumph in election of 1876. Both asserted that rival party had played unfairly. Both asserted their contestants as legitimate governors and began setting up office in Washington DC. Both governors hailing from Democrat and Republican Party, namely Daniel H. Chamberlain and Wade Hampton respectively, gave presiding speeches. Hampton had the backing of influential white people and democratic clubs whilst Chamberlain had the backing of black people of South Carolina and needed Federal troops to keep his office. His office could be taken as per the presidential order. The president got the advice as:' for eight years, we have strived to sustain Negro rule in south presided by carpetbaggers, but as is apparent, it has shown dismal results and ruined the party. Statesmanship is all about assigning the best at command and reaching popular contentment' (Ladenburg)

Restoration of White Rule to the South

The president was in a quandary about whether to dispatch troops to South Carolina due to the fact that 1876 was now a presidential election year. Rutherford Hayes, the Republican in that election obtained 165 electoral votes and Samuel Tilden, the Democrat obtained 184 electoral votes. The bone of contention was 20 votes between Republicans and Democrats as Washington received two distinct sets of returns from Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana. In case, the disputed twenty votes were given to the Republican Party, they would sweep the election, while even if one vote was obtained by Tilden from the Democrats, they could win the election (Ladenburg).

In order to solve this


The commission was biased as it favored the Republican Party and gave the verdict in favor of Republicans. All 20 votes were dished to Hayes. The three ex-confederate states under Republicans namely Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana accounted for nineteen votes and were still in contention. As per the democratic layout of events, the corruption ridden boards in all three states dismissed democratic majorities of popular vote and dished the electoral votes to Republicans. Smelling foul play, the democratic electors of these three states sent the votes to Congress and Washington for reconsideration when it would recount the votes officially on February 1877 (Holt).

In his legendary book Reunion and Reaction, famous historian C. Vann Woodward states that the bone of contention wasn't really about the occupation of presidential seat. It was more concerned about the parties of Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens' loyalty to their principles and if Republicans would desert Freedmen for forming a coalition with their previous possessors. The parties observed the surging political discontent in the country as the working class strived for unrestricted flow of inflationary paper money in multiple strikes. On the other hand, the Conservatives aimed to invest the funds on internal improvements and subsidize the railroads in northern region on similar footing as in the South. The prime aim was to lead the southerners in an alliance with the Republicans. Safe and non-inflationary money along with internal improvements, open immigration rules and high tariffs were agreed upon with Republicans giving them a free reign in racial matters.

As per Woodward, the core issue was: If South would support the Hamiltonian program, which was Clay's American system, later and finally put it in effect by Republican Party Platform of 1860 (Ladenburg).

As per Woodward, the deal was finalized, Republicans let go of Freedman and Democrats advocated Hayes. The Compromise of 1877 is different from compromises of California and Missouri since it was secretive and not meant for the public. The blacks were brought in the Union with white rule prevailing, the industrial age was promoted from here on whilst all hopes of safeguarding the promised rights of blacks bit dust for more than half a century (Ladenburg).

Compromise: Congress Steps In

In order to solve the conflict, Congress formed an electoral commission in January of 1877 comprising of five senators, five American representatives and five Supreme Court justices.

The members of commission included, seven Republicans, seven Democrats and one autonomous Justice David Davis. Davis rejected the offer to serve so he was replaced by the Republican Justice Joseph Bradley. As the commission's task began, the Republicans met the Democrats in private thinking of persuading them not to count the votes accumulated after election, thus effecting Hayes seat as the president. The Republicans and Democrats convened at Washington's Wormley Hotel in the month of February where a compromise was reached. The Democrats agreed to recognize Hayes as victorious and upholding rights of African-Americans if Republicans withdrew their Federal troops from the South, solidifying Democratic hold in the constituency. A chosen southerner would hold a position in Hayes cabinet whilst supporting financial aid for Pacific Railroad and Texas railroad which was a proposed transcontinental route. Finally, the Congress's commission on 2nd march awarded the verdict in favor of Hayes by 8-7; Hayes won over Tilden by 185-184 votes (History).

The End of Reconstruction

The office of postmaster general was assigned to David Key but failed to deliver on proposed grant for Pacific and Texas railroad. In the span of two months, Hayes withdrew all the troops positioned in South Carolina and Louisiana statehouses as the Democrats secured control of those states. As per the deal, Democrats were in full power in the South after the 1876 elections were awarded in the Republican's favor (History).

With The Compromise of 1876, the Reconstruction era came to an end. But, the proposed promise of protection of political and civil rights of blacks were not implemented, on the other hand, with federal intervention no longer in effect in southern region, led to a massive exclusion of black voters. After 1870's and onwards, southern governments passed legislations preventing black citizens not to be alongside white citizens in public areas such as cinemas, restaurants, parks, schools and even buses. These laws are popularly known as 'Jim Crow laws' (subsequent to a famous minstrel act enacted in antebellum years), these laws remained in effect for the latter part of the next century as well concluding only after the infamous civil rights movements of the 1960's (History)


Harmon, Mark D. "The New York Time sand the Theft of the 1876 Presidential Election." Journal of…

Sources Used in Documents:


Harmon, Mark D. "The New York Time sand the Theft of the 1876 Presidential Election." Journal of American Culture (2004): 35-41. Retrieved from:

History. n.d. 29 March 2015. Retrieved from:

Holt, Michael F. Gilder Lehrman. n.d. 29 March 2015. Retrieved from:

King, Gilbert. Smithsonian Mag. 07 September 2012. 29 March 2015. Retrieved from:
Ladenburg, Thomas. "The Red Shirt Election in South Carolina." Digital History (2007): 23-27. Retrieved from:

Cite this Document:

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"American Elections Of 1876", 30 March 2015, Accessed.17 January. 2022,

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