Rutherford B. Hayes's Presidency

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Compromise Of 1877 Significance

What was significant about the Compromise of 1877?

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The Compromise of 1877 was an informal agreement that ended the turmoil surrounding the contested presidential election of 1876. Samuel J. Tilden, the Democratic candidate, won the popular vote by nearly a quarter million votes. However, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes won the electoral college. To complicate matters more, the vote counts of three southern states, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina, were in dispute. The matter of determining the next president went unresolved for four months.

To end the uncertainty and the turmoil, a deal was struck in which the Southern Democrats in Congress agreed not to block the nomination of Hayes if federal troops were removed from Louisiana and South Carolina, the final two states that had failed to provide constitutional protections for former slaves. The Southern Democrats promised to protect the rights of African Americans. However, without the threat of intervention by federal troops, they did not uphold this part of the compromise. This essentially ended Reconstruction.

As a result of the Compromise of 1877, federal protections for African Americans in the southern United States came to an end. The Republican Party's mission of creating a nation in which former slaves found equal protection under the law in all states was now over. A long period of Jim Crow laws and legalized segregation ensued. This situation would last for nearly ninety years until federal protections were established as a result of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

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The Compromise of 1877 was significant because it ended the Reconstruction Era in the South.

During Reconstruction, the state governments of the South were controlled by the national government and protected by the US Army.  These governments were controlled by the Republican Party and did things like forcing the states of the South to give black people equal rights.  White Southerners hated being ruled by the North and hated the idea of black rights.

After the Compromise of 1877, Reconstruction was over.  Federal troops were withdrawn and states were free again to rule as they liked, which generally meant taking away all the rights the free blacks had had.

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The compromise of 1877 ended military reconstruction in the previously rebellious southern states.  The loss of federal protection for blacks in the south meant that the whites were able to begin to intimidate black voters and pass laws that made it nearly impossible for blacks to vote such as poll taxes, literacy tests and the grandfather clause that exempted whites from these restrictions.

These laws which formed the back bone of the southern system of segregation known as "Jim Crow" were later upheld in the landmark supreme court case of Plessy v. Fergueson in 1896 in which the court upheld the doctrine of "seperate but equal" (this doctrine was later overturned in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas in 1954)

The political ramifications were that the southern democrats let the republicans have the white house for four more years in exchange for turning their backs on southern blacks.

Also, the KKK was born during this era in order to make sure that blacks would not try to vote or influence politics in anyway or do exercise any of the rights that they had been given in the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments.

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