Rutherford & Reconstruction

(19th President Rutherford B. Hayes)

 

On this day in 1867, the first of the Reconstruction Acts was passed. The idea behind the Reconstruction Acts was to help bring the South back into the nation following the Civil War, as well as establish rights and freedoms for the newly freed slaves. 

But, regarding the rights of the freedmen and women, Reconstruction wouldn't last long. In fact, ten years to the date, in one of the most hotly contested elections in our history, Rutherford B. Hayes would be declared president. And the way he got to be president was by making a compromise with Democrats -- a compromise that would end Reconstruction.

Ironically, Hayes was for racial equality. He was a Union Civil War veteran from Ohio, but because he didn't win the popular or electoral vote in the 1876 election, he and the Republicans were forced to negotiate with the Democrats, whose candidate, Samuel Tilden, also didn't have an electoral lead. However, Samuel Tilden did win the popular vote, which gave them some leverage at the bargaining table...

The outcome from the bargaining table was arguably one of the worst outcomes from a bargaining table in our history. Hayes could be president, but only if he in effect ended Reconstruction. Hayes and the Republicans agreed to it.

Soon after inauguration day, Federal troops left the south and basically left the racist locals to determine their own politics. It was the end to any opportunity or protection for the millions of African Americans who lived amongst incredible violence and hatred.