The 1876 United States presidential election was the 23rd quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 7, 1876, in which Republican nominee Rutherford B. Hayes faced Democrat Samuel J. Tilden. It was one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. Its resolution involved negotiations between the Republicans and Democrats, resulting in the Compromise of 1877, and on March 2, 1877, the counting of electoral votes by the House and Senate occurred, confirming Hayes as President. It was the second of five U.S. presidential elections in which the winner did not win a plurality of the national popular vote. This is the only time both major party nominees were incumbent US governors.
369 members of the Electoral College
185 electoral votes needed to win
|Turnout||81.8% 10.5 pp|
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Hayes/Wheeler, blue denotes those won by Tilden/Hendricks. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
After U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant declined to seek a third term despite previously being expected to do so, U.S. Representative James G. Blaine emerged as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. However, Blaine was unable to win a majority at the 1876 Republican National Convention, which settled on Governor Hayes of Ohio as a compromise candidate. The 1876 Democratic National Convention nominated Governor Tilden of New York on the second ballot.
The results of the election remain among the most disputed ever. Although it is not disputed that Tilden outpolled Hayes in the popular vote, there were wide allegations of electoral fraud, election violence, and other disfranchisement of predominantly Republican Black voters. After a first count of votes, Tilden had won 184 electoral votes to Hayes's 165, with 20 votes from four states unresolved. In Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina, both parties reported their candidate to have won the state. In Oregon, one elector was replaced after being declared illegal for having been an "elected or appointed official." The question of who should have been awarded those electoral votes is the source of the continued controversy.
An informal, "back-room" deal was struck to resolve the votes: the Compromise of 1877. In the deal, the Democrats conceded the 20 contested electoral votes to Hayes, resulting in a 185-184 victory; in return, the Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South, marking the end of Reconstruction.
To date, it remains the election that yielded the highest voter turnout of the eligible voting-age population in American history, at 81.8%. Tilden's 50.9% is the largest share of the popular vote received by a candidate that was not elected to the presidency. This was the only presidential election in US history in which a candidate who received more than 50% of the popular vote did not win the election.
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