American Civil War - End of Reconstruction
President Grant had served two terms. Republicans were worried. Grant's presidency was loaded with scandal. Charges were made that the president was often drunk. There were charges of bribery and embezzlement in the Republican party. The Republicans did not want to lose control of government. They looked around for a really good candidate. They settled on Rutherford B. Hayes, a former Union general, who had the reputation of being incorruptible.
The Democrats talked New York Gov. Samuel Tilden into running for president. Tilden was known for his honesty. He was also known as someone who tracked down corruption in government and levied charges. He was an outstanding candidate for the Democratic party. Actually, he was a shoe-in.
When the first returns came in, it looked like Tilden had won. In four states, however, the electoral college totals were in dispute. Without those states - Oregon, South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana - Tilden would be short one (1) electoral vote and Hayes would become president. In three of those states, two tallies had been submitted, one by the Democrats, and one by the Republicans. The Republican tally had disqualified thousands of voters.
The Republicans did not want a Democratic president in office. The wanted to control the presidency and Congress. So they cracked a secret deal. In exchange for the Democrats agreeing to accept the Republican tally in the four states under dispute, the Republicans promised to withdraw occupying troops in the South, which would end reconstruction, and they promised not to enforce the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed African American males the right to vote.
Two days before Inauguration Day 1877, the Republican controlled electoral commission declared Hayes the winner. Tilden was encouraged by his party to argue this, but Tilden did nothing. He took no action at all. No one knows if Tilden knew of the secret deal, or if he knew even part of the secret deal - that related to corruption. If he did, possibly he believed it to be more important than his presidency. He was a very honorable man. He hated corruption in politics. He knew military control of government in the South was full of corruption, and he knew this control was strangling the South's recovery from the Civil War.
What is known is that Rutherford B. Hayes became president of the United States; troops were withdrawn from the South; and there was almost no enforcement of the 15th Amendment until Franklin D. Roosevelt became president around 60 years later.