The compromise of 1877 goes something like this; although Democrat Samuel Tilden had more popular votes than Rutherford B. Hayes in the 1876 election, there were several electoral votes in question. (the presidency is determined by the electoral votes) Democrats yielded to the electoral commission, giving the Republican Hayes the votes, in turn for the withdrawal of federal troops in the south essentially ending Reconstruction. In addition, the compromise called for Hayes' support for federal funds on southern building projects, and naming a southerner to his cabinet. However, when President Hayes delivered his inaugural address on March 5, 1877 there was no mention of the contested election between himself and Samuel Tilden or 'the compromise', only that he was following in the custom of those presidents that came before him which was to lead the nation.
In is inaugural speech President Hayes promised to protect the Constitutional rights of 'all' citizens. Furthermore, the president suggested the idea that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. In other words, those who lacked the confidence in the 13,14,and 15 Amendments needed to reevaluate their positions for the greater good of the nation. Unfortunately, President Hayes was unable to fulfill this promise. Soon after his election white control in the southern states re-emerged with a vengeance. 'Jim Crow' legislation based upon racial segregation was born. As a result, President Hayes was unable to have his inaugural words gain fruition. This led to the disenfranchisement of an entire segment of African America society. Fortunately, the 20th century saw the rise of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and women such as Rosa Parks. These individuals, along with countless others, sought to address the Civil Rights of all Americans. Their legacy... the power of We The People...
Hayes was elected only after a special commission was established to decide disputed electoral votes. While in office he worked to help minorities in their fight for equal rights, he worked to improve education and training, believing this would enable people to live better lives. It is said that is honesty and fairness worked to restore trust in the presidential office.
Hayes only had one term, but it was pretty eventful. There was a lot of stuff going on. Some of the most important things included:
- Ending Reconstruction.
- Reforming the Civil Service. Hayes wanted to end the "spoils system" and give jobs out more on the basis of merit than of political connections.
- The issue of money -- were they going to use gold only, or would silver be coined as well.
- Strikes. There was a lot of labor unrest during Hayes' presidency, including the Great Railroad Strike of 1877.
So Hayes's presidency was pretty eventful and it was "about" a lot of things.