The Compromise of 1877 was an unwritten agreement that was made between the Republicans and Democrats. It resolved the impasse about the result of the presidential elections of 1876. Although it diverted the nation from erupting into violence after the Civil War, it also brought a formal end to the Reconstruction Era.
Compromise of 1877 refers to a deal that was struck between the Republicans and the Democrats to resolve the dispute of the results of the presidential elections of 1876. The results of the election that was contested between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden remained undecided due to the confusion about the results of 20 electoral votes. As per the compromise, Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the US President following the election of 1876 in exchange for the Republicans withdrawing their troops from the Southern States.
To arrive at a conclusion with regards to the 20 votes, an Electoral Commission was formed. Originally, the Commission was supposed to be composed of 7 Democrats, 7 Republicans, and 1 Independent. However, when David Davis, the independent candidate refused to accept the nomination, the balance tilted towards the Republicans with Republican Joseph Bradley replacing Davis. The Electoral Commission decided the 20 votes in favor of the Republicans declaring Rutherford B. Hayes as the next president. However, the deal would stand ground, if only both the parties agreed to the following conditions of each other:
- Federal troops be removed from the States in South (the erstwhile Confederate States)
- At least one Democrat be included in Hayes’ cabinet
- A second Transcontinental railroad be constructed in South using the Texas and Pacific Railway
- A legislation aimed at helping to industrialize the Southern States be passed
With the terms been agreed to, the incumbent President Ulysses Grant removed federal troops from Florida. Hayes removed those remaining in South Carolina and Louisiana (These three were the only states of South where federal troops were stationed). After the Republican troops left, the Southern states were free to impose Jim Crow. The influence of the Democrats was established, which in turn led to the formation of a Democratic Solid South. This laid the foundation of discrimination against Blacks in the Southern States.
The Compromise of 1877 was a landmark event in the annals of American history that saved a nation whose wounds from the Civil War were still fresh. However, the compromise pushed back efforts for equality and dignity for Blacks to the 1950s.