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The Election Of 1876 In The United States

The history of America reveals that the presidential elections of 1876 had a profound impact on the movement of reconstruction. The elections also represent a turning point in American history as it resulted in an electoral crisis. Electoral stalemate and controversy were visible in presidential campaigns at local and state levels. The election between the main competitors, Samuel Tilden and Rutherford Hayes opened a dispute in four states.

An independent commission was created to resolve the dispute. Hayes won the votes from disputed states, which resulted in his presidency. Federal troops, in response, reinforced reconstruction from the south. Legalized segregation in the South was the result of Jim Crow laws as it restricted Africans from voting (Yannis, 2002). The aftermath of Reconstruction changed the positions of blacks as they gained opportunities and rights. Black participation in the 1876 elections also grew among those who wanted to end violence and reconstruction. The elections involved the participation of black local governments as judges, mayors, and sheriffs. New freedom was part of the politics that influenced blacks and other freedom organizations to support Republicans. Ulysses Grant emerged from the Civil War and was a prominent figure. Grant earned the victory by 300,000 more votes while the black majority supported him (Holt, 2008).

Presidential elections had a significant role at the end of Reconstruction as the campaigns focused on convincing people on the other side and ending violence. The campaigns targeted the masses by highlighting positive changes, including economic growth. Another strategy used by the candidates was to provoke the minority groups by conferring the idea that they would not attain equal rights. Politics was divided between the Democrats and Republicans, which affected the fairness of elections. The parties did not lead the nation towards solutions to the problems. Each party used manipulative techniques of accusing the other party of fraud and deceit. The future of reconstruction was largely dependent on the presidential elections of 1876. The electorate was unable to decide the results due to the disputes and manipulations.

The overall assessment of the elections reveals that they contributed to the end of the Reconstruction movement. The election did not result in a clear victory for either party. Though the commission declared Hayes as the winner, it was the result of the deal of ending reconstruction against the Republicans’ victory. History associates the end of Reconstruction with the victory of the Republicans (Williams, 1996).

The shift in political power was the result of the elections in 1876, as the people were tired of the political struggle, and they were willing to get rid of violence. The conditions of the people and reconstruction acted in favor of the politicians, as they were able to take advantage of the restlessness. Southern Democrats were in opposition to reconstruction since the beginning. They were also motivated to end it, allowing them to spread fear in people (Holt, 2008). Vigilant groups, including Ku Klux Klan, through violence, scattered fear and restricted blacks from voting. Several factors contributed to the ending of reconstruction. Democrats managed to take advantage of the situation and redeemed the South, allowing them to take control of the state governments and pass black codes. Jim Crow laws also allowed them to maintain supremacy. Segregation was made illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1875. Whole attorneys faced no obligation to claim on citizens’ behalf. Each brought his lawsuit against the offender. Very few people exhibited their concerns by challenging black codes. White redeemer government was the prominent feature of the South in 1877 (Yannis, 2002).

Allegations of wider voter fraud were the outcome of the elections that reflected that the elections were stolen. Hayes was still appointed as the nineteenth president of the United States. He worked to heal the nation and overcome the ravages of war. He earned a steadfast reputation and gained popularity. His credibility as a soldier allowed him to win the voters by displaying his desire for a resolution between the North and the South. His general idea was to support reconstruction, targeting the security of the rights of the black community. His ideology of equal rights fascinated the black population, so they voted for Hayes. He recognized the negative role of breeding policies as they were promoting more hatred among people of the south. He identified it as the central reason that prevented the country from overcoming the after-effects of war. To end the hatred, Hayes ordered federal troops out of the South, resulting in the end of Reconstruction. With the end of reconstruction, the democratic party gained dominance in the region. The Democrats increased the tensions among blacks by denying them voting rights (Williams, 1996).

The northern voters were disinterested in the reconstruction, and high unemployment also motivated them to bring an end. The depressed conditions of the people and economic turmoil influenced the entire population. Discrimination in public places, including restaurants, hotels, and housing, provoked people to take part in the Civil Rights Movement. Hayes used the circumstances to his advantage while the presence of Republicans was weak. The end of radical reconstruction also resulted from changing the political power of the South. Sweeping Supreme Court rulings further weakened the role of republicans (Williams, 1996). The political dispute between President Johnson and Congress was confronted during the elections of 1876. The congress focused on passing laws that could restrict the presidential power. Under the Tenure of Office Act 1867, congress removed the president’s power to change Senate officials. Stanton and other politicians were against Johnson’s reconstruction policies. The postwar South faced challenges where fights occurred. The southern region experienced collapse after the war, reflected in property damages, railroads, and agricultural destructions (Holt, 2008).

References

Williams, F. D. (1996). Reconstruction: An Anthology of Revisionist Writings. Indiana Magazine of History, 65 (4), 333-334.

Yannis, A. (2002). State Collapse and its Implications for Peace–Building, and Reconstruction. Wiley Online Library, 33 (5).

Holt, M. F. (2008). One Vote: The Disputed Presidential Election of 1876. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

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