What impact did the presidential election of 1876 have on Reconstruction?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The disputed nature of the election of 1876 resulted in its settlement by a special commission, and ultimately brought about the end of reconstruction in the South.

Rutherford B.Hayes was the Republican nominee for President, and Samuel Tilden the Democrat. Because a number of southern states had two state governments (a reconstruction and therefore Republican government and a popular wildcat Democratic government) two sets of electoral votes were presented from a number of Southern states. The determination of which votes were proper would determine the election, and both Hayes and Tilden claimed victory (a situation not too dissimilar from the 2000 election when votes in Florida were disputed.) A special commission was appointed to resolve the issue comprised of fifteen members, five from each house of Congress and five from the Supreme Court. The commission ultimately adopted the Compromise of 1877 by the terms of which Hayes was awarded the election, and federal troops were withdrawn from the south. With the withdrawal of troops, the Republican governments in the south collapsed. Thus, the election of 1876 brought about the end of reconstruction.