The Compromise of 1877 is defined as an informal agreement between Southern Democrats and allies of Rutherford Hayes, the Republican Party candidate. Also known as the Great Betrayal or the Corrupt Bargain, the Compromise of 1877 aimed to settle the results of the 1876 presidential election and marked the end of Reconstruction.
During the presidential election of 1876, the Democratic and the Republican parties were of equal strength and influence. The Democrats nominated Samuel B Tilden, Governor of New York, while the Republicans chose Rutherford B. Hayes, Governor of Ohio, as their candidate.
Hayes promised to establish honest and capable local self-government to the southern states, therefore, to restrict the enforcement of Reconstruction-era policies on the federal level.
On Election Day in November 1876, as the Democratic candidate gained most votes in the election, the Republican Party could not accept defeat and started bribing African-American voters from Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina to keep the Republican governments in the states.
Shortly after the election of 1876, it became evident that its results greatly affected the three southern states, which were the only ones left with outdated and widely unpopular Reconstruction-era governments.
The Compromise of 1877 was characterized by the shift from the principles of force to the traditional manner of expedience and concession, which laid the foundation for a political reunion. The allies of Rutherford Hayes secretly met with moderate Democrats of the South to discuss the acceptance of Hayes’ presidential candidacy.
As a result, the Democrats decided not to interfere with the election or block Hayes’ victory but made it a condition that the Republicans recall the federal troops from the southern states. Thus, the Democrats regained control over the South, and the Reconstruction era came to an end.