The 1876 presidential race between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden was extremely close. Amidst violence, intimidation, and voter fraud, the winner of the election for president and governor in three Southern states -- South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana -- was disputed. These states were the last three former Confederate states governed by Republicans.
Congress set up a special commission to decide the election, and a compromise was reached. According to the Compromise of 1877, the three Southern states would give their electoral votes for president to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, but Democrats would be allowed to take control of the governments of those states.
Hayes was inaugurated on March 5, 1877. Among his first acts was to end Northern occupation of the states still under military control. He also appointed Frederick Douglass as marshal in the District of Columbia and a Southerner, D. M. Key of Tennessee, as postmaster general. Hayes wrote:
April 22. — We have got through with the South Carolina and Louisiana problems. At any rate, the troops are ordered away, and I now hope for peace, and what is equally important, security and prosperity for the colored people. The result of my plans to get from those states and by their governors, legislatures, press, and people pledges that the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments shall be faithfully observed; that the colored people shall have equal rights to labor, education, and theprivileges of citizenship. I am confident this is a good work. Time will tell...1
- 1 : Quoted in Glenn M. Linden, Voices from the Reconstruction Years, 1865–1877 (Harcourt Brace/Cengage 1999), 316.