Compromise of 1877

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In United States politics, the Compromise of 1877 was a compromise made necessary by the disputed Election of 1876. While an Electoral Commission awarded the election to Rutherford B. Hayes, Southern Democrats planned to block the Commission's report via filibuster. The compromise resolved the constitutional crisis through a series of secret negotiations involving Republican and Democratic politicians, and various interest groups, most notably the railroad companies. The compromise stipulated that the South would acknowledge Hayes as President if the Republicans acceded to various demands, including:

  • the removal of Federal troops from the former Confederate states (Troops only remained in Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida, but the Compromise finalized the process.)
  • the appointment of at least one Southern Democrat to Hayes' cabinet (David M. Key of Tennessee was appointed Postmaster General.)
  • the construction of a transcontinental railroad in the South
  • legislation to help industrialize the South

This compromise effectively ended Reconstruction in the former Confederacy, and the autonomy of the Democratic party in the South was cemented with the ascent of the "Redeemer" governments that displaced the Republican "carpetbagger" governments. After the Compromise of 1877, the South generally voted solidly Democratic (the "Solid South") until the middle of the 20th century.

It was also notorious for depriving African Americans of civil rights, through cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. Most of the northern Republican reforms were reversed during this time, with Jim Crow laws remaining constitutional under a "separate but equal" policy that became the model for racial segregation into the 1960s.

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