The Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1877

Paving the way for the Jim Crow Laws

William House
5 min readFeb 8, 2021

The Courthouse Lawn, Halifax, North Carolina (Modified by ArcheanWeb) — Original Credit: By John Vachon for U.S. Farm Security Administration — Library of Congress[1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Those listening carefully in the runup to the January 6, 2021, insurrection may have heard Senator Ted Cruz mention the Hayes-Tilden Compromise as a model for challenging the vote of the American people. He presented his views in an oleaginous and corrosive attack on our democratic process, saying:

“The most direct precedent on this question arose in 1877, following serious allegations of fraud and illegal conduct in the Hayes-Tilden presidential race. Specifically, the elections in three states-Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina-were alleged to have been conducted illegally.

“In 1877, Congress did not ignore those allegations, nor did the media simply dismiss those raising them as radicals trying to undermine democracy. Instead, Congress appointed an Electoral Commission — consisting of five Senators, five House Members, and five Supreme Court Justices — to consider and resolve the disputed returns.

“We should follow that precedent.”

These comments need to be considered in light of the fact that before the attack on our Congress, the former President and many of his Congressional supporters consistently maintained the 2020 election was stolen via massive voter fraud. They cast their attempts to stop the January 6th certification process as legitimate actions aimed at satisfying their constituents’ questions. However, over 60 post-election lawsuits were filed and resolved, and none supported the contentions of fraud. Also, every state electoral board in the nation certified their results. The idea that these Congressional representatives were pursuing the “will of the people” is a feeble, obsequious argument aimed at appeasing the MAGA masses. The truth is they simply wanted to subvert our democracy.

But there is more going on here. A reference to the Hayes-Tilden Compromise is also a racially charged proposition. To understand why, we need to look at both the details of the Compromise and its place in the propagation of racism in America.

Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1877

The Compromise followed the 1876 Presidential Election where Republican Rutherford B. Hayes received 185 electoral votes, winning the…

William House

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