What was significant about the Compromise of 1877?
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 Federal troops were withdrawn and states were free again to rule as they liked, which generally meant taking away all the rights the free blacks had had.
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.
Compromise of 1877 was crucial because its what ended the Reconstruction era. The Republicans abandoned their commitment to racial equality. For example the Civil Rights Act of 1875 guaranteed equal accommodations in public places and prohibited racial discrimination in jury selection. The law was not enforced. It definitely ended congressional reconstruction. Compromise of 1877 was also when the Democrats agreed that Hayes would take office. The Republicans agreed to withdraw all federal troops from the South. Hayes promised to appoint at least one southerner to his cabinet. The Republicans agreed to support internal improvements in the South.