Last Updated 08 Apr 2020

Compromise of 1877

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AP US History Even though compromises and agreements look straight forward, the parties involved usually have ulterior motives. The Compromise of 1877 was consisted of a few main point. It called for the withdrawal of all federal troops from the South, supported internal improvements in the South and promised to appoint at least one Southerner to the cabinet. Also it gave conservative Southern Democrats some control over their local patronage and gave the South a free hand in race relations. Many may have seen these details as a way to mend the country back together, however it was really just a despicable plan.

Although the Compromise of 1877 was successful in burying sectional tensions, in reality, it was a cynical political deal because it was a fraudulent election, white conservatives maintained power, and blacks became disenfranchised. During the election of 1876, political improprieties between Tilden and Hayes caused tensions between the two parties. The Republicans thought they could once again use the tactic and political stand of “waving the bloody shirt,” which had secured their victories for the past two presidential elections.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, American voters had forgotten the Civil War already, and Tilden won the popular vote over Hayes and led the electoral vote 184 to 165. The winner was not decided yet because 20 votes were disputed by the Republican governments in South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. Resulting from the miscommunication and corruption on both sides of the ticket, Congress had to form a special commission comprised of 5 members from the Senate, House, and Supreme Court. It was decided that exactly seven Democrats, seven Republicans, and one Independent would be allowed, to keep the commission neutral.

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The Republicans, desperate for a win, devised a plan to have the only independent justice on the bench elected into the Senate by his state’s legislature. When he resigned to assume his new position, all of the remaining justices were Republicans. The vote came in with the Republican’s winning by one vote, meaning all 20 remaining electoral votes were given to Hayes. This scheme cause turmoil between citizens, and it proved that the government would do whatever it could to get what they wanted, even if it meant a scam.

Also, the Compromise of 1877 was just a way for white, male conservatives to stay in power. By writing this Compromise, these powerful, WASP men were able to get what they wanted in addition to satisfying the needs of the other party. After all was said and done, the Republicans received the White House, and in return, the Democrats were awarded a spot in Hayes’ cabinet and the removal of federal troops from the south. With both parties temporarily happy, they silently agreed to ignore the rising problem of southern blacks.

Both parties sacrificed blacks as they challenged the racial system. The ability for the white conservatives to maintain power while manipulating the political system demonstrates that this election was another derisive move by conservatives. Finally, with the Compromise, the blacks became disenfranchised. After the Democrats failed to fight for the rights of the blacks, they were just left out in the dust. The government implemented literacy requirements and poll taxes so that they could prevent them from voting.

They also developed the system of tenant farming and share cropping, which significantly decreased their salary and they plunged into economic poverty. They introduced legal systems of racial segregation and it made living for these people harsh, cruel, and near impossible. Finally, there was a significant rise of mob lynchings. This was due to the blacks who decided to challenge the racial system. All of these examples show how the blacks were put down in order to keep them out of the way, and they just became another ordeal in the political deal.

In conclusion, the Compromise of 1877 was a cynical political deal and was unsuccessful in burying sectional tensions. Between the election fraud, the stronghold of conservatives maintaining power, and the blacks being sunk down back to the bottom, the Compromise was a negative for the country all in all. Many thought it was a positive and could mend us back together, but we eventually found its faults. “After nearly four months of angry uncertainty, filled with blatant fraud, violence, and fears of renewed civil war, the nation finally… (Morris Jr. 15)” found its ulterior motive and tricked a nation.

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