Rutherford B. Hayes is known as the president who ended Reconstruction (1865–1877) in the United States. Reconstruction was a difficult and contentious era in American history. It involved the re-entry of the Southern states to the Union and the release of slaves following the Civil War.
The dubious presidential election of 1876 led directly to the end of Reconstruction. The Democratic candidate, Samuel Tilden, won the popular vote, but the Electoral College returns from several Southern states were in doubt. Congress had to create a special commission to decide the election. Hayes's aides promised to withdraw Northern troops from the South and end Reconstruction in exchange for the disputed Electoral College votes. The circumstances surrounding Hayes's "victory" in the 1876 presidential election tainted his legacy forever.