Conditions were rough leading up to the 1876 presidential election. It had only been 11 years since the Civil War ended, and tensions were still high. The candidates both had different visions – and the actual results changed the course of history.
Black men had only recently gained new citizenship rights, including the right to vote, and many white people were not happy about it. The vote was brutally suppressed in the South, but that didn’t stop Black support for Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. The turnout was historic.
Over 80% of eligible voters participated – the highest amount ever! But when it was all said and done, there was a dispute around who actually won. This led to a moment known as “The Compromise of 1877.” Basically the establishment decided to strike a deal.
Democrats let Hayes win the election in exchange for the ending of Reconstruction, which had helped Black people secure new rights after the Civil War. The South regained control without federal intervention – and that would pave the way for more terror.
The South went on using convict leasing to re-enslave Black people, and set the stage for legalized brutality like Jim Crow and much more. They used this election compromise to lay the foundation for brutal legal measures that still haunt Black people to this day!