The Compromise of 1877 was a compromise
designed to end the controversy that had surrounded the election of 1876. The
election of 1876 stands out as one of the most controversial and close
elections in the history of America, as the election ultimately came down to
Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican candidate, with 165 electoral votes, and
Samuel J. Tilden, the Democratic candidate, with 184 votes.
There were 20 votes
remaining which had not been given to either of these candidates, which came
from Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. The controversy of the election
came from the fact that the Democrats claimed that Tilden had won in those
states and the Republicans claimed that Hayes had won in those states.
The Compromise of 1877 only
added to the controversy of the election, as it involved Tilden agreeing to
give Hayes the election on the grounds that Hayes would take particular action
as President. Specifically, Tilden wanted Hayes to remove any remaining Federal
troops which had been stationed in the former Confederate states of the south,
such as Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida.
The Compromise of 1877 also
included terms under which Hayes would be obligated to construct a
transcontinental railroad in the south and help to industrialize the south. In
exchange for the promises Hayes made in the Compromise of 1877, Tilden was
willing to give up the Presidency. The exact historical truthfulness of the
Compromise of 1877, to the point where Tilden and Hayes made these deals,
remains somewhat questionable, as the actual issue was ultimately solved by a
vote of Congress.