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Compromise of 1877

Compromise of 1877

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The Compromise of 1877, also known as the Corrupt Bargain
Corrupt Bargain
The term Corrupt Bargain refers to three separate events that each involved a United States presidential election and a deal that was struck that many viewed to be corrupt from many standpoints, such as in the Election of 1824 controversy over the House of Representative's choice for president with...

, refers to a purported informal, unwritten deal that settled the disputed 1876 U.S. Presidential election and ended Congressional ("Radical") Reconstruction. Through it, Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 19th President of the United States . As president, he oversaw the end of Reconstruction and the United States' entry into the Second Industrial Revolution...

 was awarded the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 over Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 Samuel J. Tilden
Samuel J. Tilden
Samuel Jones Tilden was the Democratic candidate for the U.S. presidency in the disputed election of 1876, one of the most controversial American elections of the 19th century. He was the 25th Governor of New York...

 on the understanding that Hayes would remove the federal troops that were propping up Republican state governments in South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

. Consequently, the incumbent President, Republican Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

, removed the soldiers from Florida before Hayes as his successor removed the remaining troops in South Carolina and Louisiana. As soon as the troops left, many Republicans also left (or became Democrats
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

) and the "Redeemer
Redeemers
In United States history, "Redeemers" and "Redemption" were terms used by white Southerners to describe a political coalition in the Southern United States during the Reconstruction era which followed the American Civil War...

" Democrats took control.

Compromise


The purported compromise essentially stated that Southern Democrats would acknowledge Hayes as President, but only on the understanding that Republicans would meet certain demands. The following elements are generally said to be the points of the compromise:
  1. The removal of all federal troops from the former Confederate States
    Confederate States of America
    The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

    . (Troops remained in only Louisiana
    Louisiana
    Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

    , South Carolina
    South Carolina
    South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

    , and Florida
    Florida
    Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

    , but the Compromise finalized the process.)
  2. The appointment of at least one Southern Democrat to Hayes's cabinet. (David M. Key
    David M. Key
    David McKendree Key was a Democratic U.S. Senator from Tennessee from 1875 to 1877 as well as the U.S. Postmaster General under President Hayes.-Biography:...

     of Tennessee
    Tennessee
    Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

     became Postmaster General
    United States Postmaster General
    The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

    .) Hayes agreed.
  3. The construction of another transcontinental railroad
    Transcontinental railroad
    A transcontinental railroad is a contiguous network of railroad trackage that crosses a continental land mass with terminals at different oceans or continental borders. Such networks can be via the tracks of either a single railroad, or over those owned or controlled by multiple railway companies...

     using the Texas and Pacific
    Texas and Pacific Railway
    The Texas and Pacific Railway Company was created by federal charter in 1871 with the purpose of building a southern transcontinental railroad between Marshall, Texas, and San Diego, California....

     in the South (this had been part of the "Scott Plan," proposed by Thomas A. Scott, which initiated the process that led to the final compromise).
  4. Legislation to help industrialize the South.

In exchange, Democrats would:
  1. Accept Hayes's presidency.
  2. Respect blacks' rights.


In fact, as regards the first and most important point, Hayes had already announced his support for the restoration of "home rule", which would involve troop removal, before the election. It was also not unusual, nor unexpected, for a President, especially one so narrowly elected, to select a cabinet member favored by the other party. As for the final two points, if indeed there was any such firm agreement, they were never acted on.

In any case, whether by a semi-formal deal or simply reassurances already in line with Hayes's announced plans, talks with Southern Democrats satisfied the worries of many and so prevented a Congressional filibuster
Filibuster
A filibuster is a type of parliamentary procedure. Specifically, it is the right of an individual to extend debate, allowing a lone member to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a given proposal...

 that had threatened to extend resolution of the election dispute beyond Inauguration Day 1877. There was no serious effort made to fund a railroad or provide other federal aid. An opposing interest group representing the Southern Pacific
Southern Pacific Railroad
The Southern Pacific Transportation Company , earlier Southern Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Company, and usually simply called the Southern Pacific or Espee, was an American railroad....

 successfully thwarted Scott's Texas and Pacific scheme and ultimately ran its own line to New Orleans.

Historians argue that the assurances offered to some Southern Democrats to prevent a filibuster were not a "compromise"(Peskin, 1973). Others argue that the Republican party abandoned Southern Blacks to racist Democratic party rule in order to gain Democratic support(DeSantis, 1982). In any case, Reconstruction ended, and the supremacy of the Democratic Party in the South was cemented with the ascent of the "Redeemer" governments that displaced the Republican governments. After 1877, white supremacy generally caused the South to vote Democratic in elections for federal office (the "Solid South
Solid South
Solid South is the electoral support of the Southern United States for the Democratic Party candidates for nearly a century from 1877, the end of Reconstruction, to 1964, during the middle of the Civil Rights era....

") until 1966.

Whatever "deals" may or may not have taken place, in formal legal terms, the election of 1876 was not decided by such acts, but by the official vote of Congress to accept the recommendations of the Electoral Commission they themselves had set up as a way out of the election impasse. The expectation in setting up the committee had been that its decisions would be accepted by congress. It was only when certain Democrats disagreed with the commission's decisions in favor of Hayes that this arrangement was jeopardized. This group threatened a filibuster (opposed by Republicans and Congressional Democratic leadership as well) that would prevent the agreed upon vote from even taking place. Discussions of the points in the alleged "compromise" only concerned convincing key Democrats not to acquiesce in a filibuster. The very threat of a filibuster—a measure used by a minority to prevent a vote—indicates that there were already sufficient votes for accepting the commission's recommendations.

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