March 2, 1877

Rutherford B. Hayes was declared winner of a presidential election fraught with accusations and arguments. The final outcome of the election hinged on the disputed results in four states—Florida, Louisiana, Oregon, and South Carolina—which prevented either candidate from securing a majority of electoral votes. At a meeting in February 1877, Democratic leaders accepted Hayes’s election in exchange for Republican promises to withdraw federal troops from the South, provide federal funding for internal improvements in the South, and name a prominent southerner to the president’s Cabinet. When the federal troops were withdrawn, the Republican governments in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina collapsed, bringing Reconstruction to a formal end. Under the Compromise of 1877, the national government could no longer intervene in state affairs. This permitted the imposition of racial segregation and the disfranchisement of black voters.

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