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Compromise of 1877

Reconstruction Ended and Stage Was Set for Jim Crow Era

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Photographic portrait of Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes

Library of Congress

The Compromise of 1877 was one of a series of political compromises reached in an effort to hold the United States together peacefully.

What made the Compromise of 1877 unique was that it took place after the Civil War, and was thus an attempt to prevent a second outbreak of violence. The other compromises, the Missouri Compromise (1820), the Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), were all intended to avoid Civil War.

The Compromise of 1877 was also unusual as it was not reached openly after debate in the U.S. Congress. It was primarily worked out behind the scenes and with virtually no written record.

The timing of the agreement was prompted by the disputed presidential election of 1876. The Democrats in Congress held a meeting in early 1877 and agreed not to interfere with a plan that would have Congress decided the outcome of the election.

Part of the agreement was that Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican candidate, would bring an end to Reconstruction throughout the south if he took office.

The Compromise of 1877 actually went beyond the settlement of the disputed election. It also was intended to provide financial subsidies to the South, although that did not come to pass.

Historians have noted that the Compromise of 1877 marked a turn in policy away from concern for freed slaves in the South, and ultimately helped usher in the era of Jim Crow.

Related: Compromises Delayed the Civil War

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