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Rigo asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

describe the compromise that lead to the end of reconstruction?

this was aftger the civil war

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    What you're asking about is the "Compromise of 1877". I'll lay out what it supposed to have involved, but I will tell you upfront that I do not believe it ever took place.

    The basic notion is that the 1876 Republican Presidential candidate, Rutherford B Hayes, somehow 'bought' Democratic votes in Congress to gain the office by promising to withdraw remaining Northern troops from Southern states, thus "double-crossing" the freedmen.

    The problem is that this so-called compromise is nowhere documented -- it is mostly a hypothesis that goes beyond the know facts. What apparently DID happen was some assurances to skittish Southern Senators who were being asked to join a filibuster to prevent the final formal vote needed to make Hayes President. But there is no evidence Hayes changed his positions or made some special "offer" to gain votes. Further he believed he had assurances that the rights of the freedmen WOULD be respected (and for a time they were).


    Here's the background:

    When two slates of electors showed up for four disputed states (Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana and Oregon) the Commission appointed by Congress to settle which slates to accept actually ended up voting (along party lines) for the Hayes electors in every case. It was only at this point, when the Senate had to vote on whether to accept the Commission's decision that the "deal" was supposedly made -- NOT a deal to 'throw' the election, but to avoid a possible Democratic filibuster (Republicans had a majority in the Senate).

    The idea that there was an informal compromise made to smooth the way has never been proved. The phrase "Compromise of 1877" was coined by historian C. Vann Woodward in his 1951 book Reunion and Reaction. He claimed that the compromise consisted of:

    * Troops recalled from the statehouse property in the three states

    * Funds to build the Texas and Pacific Railroad

    * A southerner appointed as Postmaster General

    * Funds to rebuild the economy in the South

    * Solution to the race problem left to state governments

    But there is something very odd about his list. Of the five items in the list, THREE never happened, and the two that DID (troop removal and the appointment of a Southerner to the cabinet) were things Hayes apparently had already expected to do (note: he thought he could do so WITHOUT 'abandoning' the freedmen) So there was no NEED for him to "Compromise" on these points!

    There's one other major piece that people get confused about. The suggestion is made that Hayes, in order to gain the Presidency suddenly changed the national policy and brought Reconstruction to an end is very misleading. In fact, the Reconstruction effort had been losing political support in the North for several years. As a result Grant had already removed most of the federal troops before the election of 1876. And everyone was expecting it all to end shortly. (This was a sad outcome, but Hayes was NOT the cause.)

    The explanation for all this is complicated, but it boils down toward the North tiring of the expense (in blood and money, all the more so in the midst of an economic depression since 1873) of maintaining troops in the South, and the fact that a group of Southern whites had worked determinedly -- often through fraud, intimidation, even lynching-- to neutralize the vote of Southern Republicans (esp. blacks).

    In other words, there is really NO basis for the contention that Hayes chose to betray the freedmen in order to settle this dispute and gain the Presidency. There is serious doubt that any such Compromise ever happened. The most that could credibly be suggested is that Hayes's supporters simply assured the Democratic Senators that Hayes would indeed do as he had promised. (This is possible --since people sometimes doubt promises made during a political campaign! -- but it would hardly be a dirty deal or merit the name and notoriety of "the Compromise of 1877.)


    By the way, more recent authors who have focused on this subject have tended NOT to agree with Vann Woodward's hypothesis (including, most recently, M. Fitzgerald --see sources below)

    But as is often the case with these things, the reference works and text books will take YEARS to catch up! (and "many historians" typically includes a lot of people who are experts in OTHER areas and have made no special study of the specific question... so they just follow the "consensus" view)

    John Hope Franklin, an expert on the period, showed that the only thing approaching a "bargain" was apparent last minute RE-assurances given to a group of Southern Senators already supportive of much of the Republican agenda (not surprising since they were mainly former Whigs) but who had grown nervous from some recent anti-Southern newspaper rhetoric.

    In fact, what the Republicans did was NOT to make some new deal to gain votes. It was, instead, to prevent a FILIBUSTER some Democrats were attempting. Congress had actually agreed BEFORE the Commission ever reported that they would accept its report. (The filibuster would have effectively reneged on the original terms.) In other words, the only real "deal" of that year was the one Congressional Democrats and Republicans had made with each other to appoint a commission to settle the election dispute, and to accept its results.


    Finally, note that Hayes DID ask for and receive assurances from Southern governments that the rights of the freedmen WOULD be honored. In hindsight this seems foolish to us because we know that by the century's end the South had effectively destroyed most protections. BUT

    a) as noted above, Hayes was not in a position to do much more than this, since Reconstruction had ALREADY effectively fallen apart for lack of political support

    b) in fact (usually missed by critics) the South DID behave much better for a number of years, that is, there was some effort to keep the promises. (It is NOT true that everything was dismantled overnight as MIGHT have happened if the Democratic candidate and platform had triumphed)

    Source(s): John Hope Franklin *Reconstruction after the Civil War (2nd ed., University of Chicago Press, 1994) - chapter 11, pp.206-210 Michael W Fitzgerald. *Splendid Failure: Postwar Reconstruction in the American South, 2007 -- see chapter 9, esp. pp..204-5 Roy Morris Jr., Fraud of the Century : Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876 (2003) --despite the title and a more pro-Democratic viewpoint than I think the evidence warrants, Morris acknowledges that Tilden's majority in the contested states was the result of ballot-stuffing, threats and attacks that drove away black Republican voters, etc , and he is NOT convinced that Hayes' agreed to any sort of "corrupt bargain"
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  • Marcia
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    The Whigs were a political party back in the early years of America, as were the Federalists. The people of the nation decided in the 1800's that they had enough of the policies of these parties and started voting for other parties. This is how we cam to the current parties of the Democrats and the Republicans. Did you also research the Libertarians and the Constitutionalists? The Tories were also during the early years and where more of the monarchical sort. (They preferred a monarchy)

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I dont know the name but it occured when the South was almost good enough

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