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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

I need reliable information on the compromise of 1877?

PLEASE NOTHING FROM WIKIPEDIA, TRIPOD, GEOCITIES ETC. dont just google it please i tried that. Tell me some books also please


2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    This is one I've read a fair amount about. Oddly, it's one of those things that many writers simply ASSUME happened, without really investigating. But there is much evidence that no "corrupt bargain" EVER happened! I especially recommend the last two books in my "source" list below to point out what we know DID happen. I'll do my best here to explain my understanding of it all.

    For starters, do note that the so-called Compromise of 1877 is nowhere documented -- it is a HYPOTHESIS or way of interpreting certain events (and one that I believe makes some false assumptions and OVER-interprets).

    By the way, on the wikipedia thing. I read THAT article a long time ago, and made an effort to include some corrections and caveats about how uncertain the hypothesis is. Unfortunately, in a few months most or all of my edits had been edited out in favor of the "standard" explanation.

    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 two houses of Congress had to vote on whether to accept the Commission's decision (which they had all said at the start they WOULD do) that any idea of a "deal" came up. Note then that even if there was any sort of deal, it was NOT a deal to 'throw' the election, but to avoid a possible Democratic filibuster of the confirmation vote (Republicans had a majority in the Senate).

    The idea that there was an informal compromise made to smooth the way. The basic idea has been around for a long time, but has never been proved. The phrase "Compromise of 1877" itself was, I believe, coined by historian C. Vann Woodward in his 1951 book Reunion and Reaction, in which he spelled out a more detailed hypothesis. He claimed that the compromise consisted of:

    * troops recalled from the statehouse property in the three states where they remained

    * funds provided to build the Texas and Pacific Railroad

    * a southerner appointed Postmaster General

    * funds to rebuild the economy in the South

    * ace problem left to state governments

    The problem with this list is that #2 and 4 NEVER ended up happening, and for the rest, there is strong evidence that the decisions to do them came long before the meeting at which the "Compromise" supposedly was struck (some even being hinted at during the Presidential campaign -certainly the appointment of a cabinet member from the South, and removal of troops had seemed very likely).

    Most important of all these --and the CENTRAL issue that people are (rightly) concerned about is this. It is claimed that Hayes struck a deal to remove the remaining troops in the South, thus abandoning the freedmen to "redeemer" governments (pts 1 & 5 above).

    One other major piece that people get confused about in all this -- The idea is out there that Hayes, in order to gain the Presidency suddenly changed the national policy and brought Reconstruction to an end. This is at best 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 to

    a) the North tiring of the expense (in blood and money, esp. in the midst of a time of economic depression since the Panic of 1873) of maintaining troops in the South, and

    b) a group of Southern whites who 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 reason 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)

    One expert on the period --John Hope Franklin (cited below)-- shows that the only thing approaching a "bargain" was apparent last minute RE-assurances given to Southern Senators (esp former Southern WHIGS who would already have been supportive of much of the Republican agenda) 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 vote. 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.)


    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. Meanwhile, Hayes did what he could to get assurances that the freedmen's rights would be honored -- he may have been naive to believe this would happen, but need not have doubted it.... and he probably would have had NO power to do anything about it anyway.

    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)

    (One other thing everyone always seems to forget is the likelihood that things would have fallen apart MORE quickly in a Democratic became President -- the Republican platform had called for the protection of civil rights; the Democrats had called for the North to get completely out!!)

    Source(s): 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 a "corrupt bargain" 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
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    tham has a good answer, but dont forget to include the importance of the feces tariff laws. Democrats in the senate were holding up the Feces Tariff Bill of 1877 and so as part of the compromise that bill was allowed to get ratified. The irony was the the feces tariffs were never fully implemented because of a rise in feces production in the states of Alambama and Mississippi.

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