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Important Conflicts in American History

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Hayes, a Republican, and Tilden, a Democrat, clashed in the very close presidential election of 1876. Voters, apparently tired of the corruption of the Grant administration, voted in large numbers for Tilden. Election results hinged on twenty key electoral votes in states submitting disputed returns (primarily from Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana - the only three southern states still controlled by Republicans and not yet "redeemed" and returned to white Democratic control). Tilden needed only one of the disputed votes; Hayes needed all twenty to win. An electoral commission, which was created with seven members of each party and one "independent," a Supreme Court justice, was ultimately configured in favor of the Republicans after the independent member resigned (President Grant, a Republican, made the final appointment in favor of the Republicans).The commission of course gave the disputed votes to Hayes. Democratic claims that the election was stolen were quieted when Hayes agreed to remove federal troops from the South and officially end Reconstruction in return for a Democratic "promise" that southern states would recognize and protect the civil and political rights of black Americans. This "Compromise of 1877" allowed Democrats to regain control of the last remaining Republican-controlled southern states and left African Americans at the mercy of white Democrats bent on retaliation. Jim Crow, disfranchisement (poll taxes, literacy tests, etc.), and lynchings will follow.