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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Compromise of 1877 whereby Democrats would not oppose the election of Hayes to the Presidency if Federal troops were withdrawn from South Carolina and Louisiana.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.
Reconstruction ended with the Compromise of 1877. The compromise was brokered after the disputed election of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican, and Samuel B. Tilden, the Democrat. The electoral commission that decided the election was swayed by Hayes's promise to end Reconstruction in return for winning the election. The former Confederate states had been ruled under military Reconstruction since 1867. In return for his election as President, Hayes agreed to remove military forces from these southern states. The South regained control of its state governments and promptly elected Democratic leadership.
The North felt that it had accomplished its aims by passing the 13th Amendment (ending slavery), the 14th Amendment (granting citizenship and due process rights to everyone born in the U.S.), and the 15th Amendment (granting all men the right to vote). However, these rights were often abridged for African-Americans until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, the country was going through an economic depression, called the Panic of 1873. This economic downturn lasted until about 1879 and made the government eager to withdraw forces from the South to concentrate on economic matters.
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