United States elections, 1876

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The 1876 United States elections were held on November 7. In one of the most disputed presidential elections in American history, Republican Governor Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio ended up winning despite Democratic Governor Samuel J. Tilden of New York earning a majority of the popular vote. The Republicans maintained their Senate majority and cut into the Democratic majority in the House.


The 1876 presidential election was heavily contested, and saw the highest turnout of voting age population in American history.[1] Democratic Governor Samuel J. Tilden of New York won the Democratic nomination on the second ballot of the 1876 Democratic National Convention, defeating Indiana Governor Thomas A. Hendricks and a handful of other candidates. Republicans chose Ohio Governor Rutherford B. Hayes on the seventh ballot over Maine Senator James G. Blaine, Senator Oliver P. Morton of Indiana, Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin H. Bristow, and several other candidates.[2]

Tilden outpolled Hayes in the popular vote by a margin of three percent, and had 184 electoral votes to Hayes' 165, with 20 electoral votes uncounted. These 20 electoral votes were in dispute: in three states (Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina), each party reported its candidate had won the state, while in Oregon one elector was declared illegal (as an "elected or appointed official") and replaced.

To resolve this dispute, Congress formed the Electoral Commission, a temporary body to investigate these electoral votes. Eventually, this commission awarded the electoral votes to Hayes after a bitter legal and political battle, giving him the victory 185 to 184 electoral votes. Many Democrats felt that Tilden had been cheated out of a victory, but the informal "Compromise of 1877" saw Democrats recognize Hayes as president in return for the end of Reconstruction. Excluding the multi-candidate 1824 election, Hayes's margin of victory of one electoral vote has never been matched, and no other winning candidate has ever lost the popular vote by more than one point.

United States House of Representatives[edit]

The Republicans picked up a net gain of 33 seats in the House, but it was not enough as the Democrats maintained their majority, 155–136 (not included two seats held by independents).[3]

United States Senate[edit]

The Democrats gained three net seats in the Senate, but the Republicans held onto their majority. Since this election was held prior to ratification of the seventeenth amendment, these seats were chosen by the State legislatures.[4]


  1. ^ Between 1932 and 2008: "Table 397. Participation in Elections for President and U.S. Representatives: 1932 to 2010" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
  2. ^ "1876 Presidential Election". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Party Divisions of the House of Representatives". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Party Division in the Senate, 1789-Present". United States Senate. Retrieved 25 June 2014.