How did the Compromise of 1877 impact former slaves?

Quick answer:

The Compromise of 1877, which ended Reconstruction, severely affected former slaves by removing federal protections and leading to the erosion of their rights. This compromise allowed Southern whites to regain political control, passing discriminatory Jim Crow Laws that enforced segregation and restricted voting rights. The absence of federal troops also enabled groups like the Ku Klux Klan to terrorize African-Americans without fear of repercussion. Thus, the Compromise of 1877 marked a significant regression in the lives of former slaves.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Compromise of 1877 had a major effect on the former slaves. There was a dispute over electoral votes in the election of 1876. The South agreed to let the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, win the election in order to get federal troops out of the South that were enforcing Reconstruction. This should have been a sign that the southerners were planning to make major changes once Reconstruction ended.

Once Reconstruction ended, the federal troops left the South. Many white southerners got elected to office. This led to many laws being passed that took away the rights of the former slaves or separated the races. The South passed laws called Jim Crow Laws that segregated the South. There were separate bathrooms, separate seating sections on train cars, and separate schools just to name a few examples. People had to pass a literacy test or pay a poll tax in order to be allowed to vote. To exempt whites that could not pass the literacy test or could not pay the poll tax, they allowed a person to be exempt from the requirements if the person’s father or grandfather had voted before the Civil War.

Additionally, the Ku Klux Klan began to dominate the South. They would terrorize, intimidate, and threaten African-Americans. They often went unprosecuted because they were tied to the Democratic Party, and the Democrats controlled southern politics after Reconstruction ended. The ending of Reconstruction was a huge blow to the former slaves, as things really got bad for them after Reconstruction ended.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Compromise of 1877 harmed the former slaves.  It did so because it ended Reconstruction.  During Reconstruction, the North had imposed relatively true democracy on the South.  It had protected African Americans and their political and social rights.  But the Southern whites as a group generally hated Reconstruction and hated the fact that the freed slaves had political rights.  Once the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction, the governments of the Southern states started to take away the rights that the freed slaves had enjoyed.  In this way, the compromise hurt the former slaves.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial