Compromise of 1877

Following the election of 1876, but prior to the inauguration, Republican and Democratic leaders secretly came up with a compromise to resolve the election impasses and address other outstanding issues.

The democrats agreed to accept the Republican presidential electors, assuring Rutherford B. Hayes would be the next president provided the Republicans would agree to the following:

  • To withdraw federal sliders 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 appoint a democrat to the president’s cabinet.

Once the parties agreed to these terms, the electoral commission performed its duty. Hayes’ electors were selected and Hayes was named president two days before the inauguration.

Why did the Democrats give up so easily? Despite months of inflammatory talk, few responsible people could contemplate going to war. A comprise was mandatory and the one achieved—gave the Democrats what they wanted.

They were not guaranteed they would fare well even with Samuel J. Tilden as president. However, to the four million slaves in the south, the Compromise of 1877 was the “Great Betrayal.” Republican efforts to assure civil rights for the blacks were totally abandoned.

The presidential election of 1876 celebrated 100 years since the Declaration of Independence, however it was so divisive that there were fears of another Civil War.

Source: Compromise of 1877
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