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The election in 1876 between U.S. presidential candidates Rutherford B. Hayes, a Republican, and Samuel J. Tilden, a Democrat, was one of the most notorious elections in American history. The dispute between who was the rightful winner ended in the Compromise of 1877, in which the Democrats conceded to Hayes’ election in exchange for the Republican’s withdrawal of troops from the South.
See the fact file below for more information on the election in 1876 or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Election of 1876 worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
REPUBLICAN PARTY NOMINATION
- In 1875, it was widely assumed that then incumbent president Ulysses S. Grant would run for his third term as president. He almost did but for the House declaring the limit of two terms of presidency so as to prevent a dictatorship.
- The Republican National Convention eventually chose the state of Ohio’s reform governor Rutherford B. Hayes as their nominee, with William A. Wheeler nominated as vice president.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOMINATION
- The Democratic convention was held in St. Louis, Missouri, in June 1876, and they called for immediate reforms to the scandals that had erupted during the term of Republican president Ulysses Grant.
- Samuel J. Tilden won by a landslide vote and became the Democrat presidential nominee. Thomas Hendricks was by his side, being nominated for vice president.
GREENBACK PARTY NOMINATION
- In 1874, the Greenback Party was organized in Indianapolis, Indiana, by the agricultural sector. The party urged the federal government to pursue the mass issuance of paper money called greenbacks in order to inflate the economy.
- The Greenback convention nominated Peter Cooper for president and senator Newton Booth for vice president. After declining the position, Newton Booth was replaced by Samuel Fenton Cary for the vice presidential nominee.
PROHIBITION PARTY NOMINATION
- The Prohibition Party was established in 1869 in opposition to the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- The party believed that this was an integral part of the temperance movement.
- Their 1876 convention nominated Green Clay Smith for president and Gideon T. Stewart for vice president.
AMERICAN NATIONAL PARTY NOMINATION
- Established as a continuation of the Anti-Masonic Party of 1872, the small American National Party held its convention in 1875 in Pennsylvania. James B. Walker was unanimously nominated for president and Donald Kirkpatrick for vice president.
GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN
- Samuel Tilden ran as a reform candidate against the corruption and shortcomings of the previous Grant administration. He was well-known for prosecuting machine politicians in New York, and he was responsible for sending political boss William M. Tweed to jail.
- Rutherford Hayes was not well-known outside of the state of Ohio. Having served in the civil war, he was quite marketable to veterans, however.
- Both the Democrat and Republican parties held mudslinging campaigns. The Democrat side attacked the corruption of the Republican-led government, and the Republican side raised the issues concerning the Civil War, claiming that all rebels of that war were Democrats.
- The Democrats relied on a strategy utilizing the Red Shirts and White League, which were paramilitary groups that actively suppressed both white and black Republican turnouts.
ELECTORAL DISPUTES AND THE COMPROMISE OF 1877
- The results of the election in each state was marked by electoral fraud and threats of violence against Relublican voters. The design of the ballots also unfairly favored the Democrats, whose ballots were printed with the Republican symbol.
- In the state of Oregon, the vote of a single elector was disputed. Statewide votes clearly favored Hayes, but the state’s Democrat governor, La Fayette Grover, claimed that one elector was ineligible and replaced him with a Democrat elector. The other Republican electors dismissed this action and awarded all votes to Hayes.
- With Hayes leading the majority of the votes, the Democrats cried fraud. The excitement over these political events pervaded the country.
- The U.S. Congress eventually faced a constitutional crisis on their hands. They decided to form an Electoral Commission to settle the result. This commission decided not to question any results that were lawful at first sight, giving all disputed electoral votes to Hayes.
- Members of the U.S. Congress arranged the Compromise of 1877 in order to easily settle the crisis. This agreement entailed giving the presidential seat to Hayes in exchange for the U.S. government pulling out their troops, whose support was essential for the Republican states of South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana.
- Rutherford Hayes was thus inaugurated without disturbance on March 5, 1877.
- The 1876 Presidential Election would be the last to be held before the end of the Reconstruction era. The Reconstruction sought to protect the rights of the African American voters in the South who usually voted Republican candidates.
Election of 1876 Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the election of 1876 across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Election of 1876 worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the election in 1876 between U.S. presidential candidates Rutherford B. Hayes, a Republican, and Samuel J. Tilden, a Democrat, which was one of the most notorious elections in American history. The dispute between who was the rightful winner ended in the Compromise of 1877, in which the Democrats conceded to Hayes’ election in exchange for the Republican’s withdrawal of troops from the South.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Election of 1876 Facts
- Presidential Debate
- Facts Only
- More Questions Please
- Two (In)Famous Elections
- Spill More Tea?
- 1876 Nomination
- Editorial Cartoon
- Vote Wisely
- What’s Up 1876?
- That Contentious Election
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