What caused the end of Reconstruction? What did the North and South each gain from the Compromise of 1877?
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The Compromise of 1877 became necesssary as a result of confusion surrounding the 1876 election. South Carolina and Louisiana had rival state governments, one a reconstruction government dominated by Republicans; the other a government composed of former Confederate officials and primarily Democratic. Both sets of governments chose electors and sent electoral votes to Congress. As one might imagine, the Reconstruction legislatures sent votes for Rutherford B.Hayes; the Democrats for Samuel Tilden. Electoral votes from both states and several other southern states were challenged. Fraud throughout the election was rampant, so much so that one Congressman commented:
The Democrats stole the election, then the Republicans stole it back.
The fifteen member commission chosen to sort out the election debacle was comprised of eight Republicans and seven Democrats. All votes went along party lines. Ultimately, a compromise was proposed, the famous Compromise of 1877 whereby Democrats would not oppose the election of Hayes to the Presidency if Federal troops were withdrawn from South Carolina and Louisiana. As a result, the Republicans gained the White House; and the Democrats saw the collapse of the reconstruction legislatures in Louisiana and South Carolina. Ultimately white supremacy, primarily represented by the then Democratic party, returned to the South. The Compromise marked the end of Reconstruction.
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