From America’s Library
On the night of the 1876 presidential election, Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes went to bed early. He assumed that he had lost the election to his opponent, Democrat Samuel J. Tilden. Tilden did win the popular vote that night, but the Republicans challenged the validity of the electoral votes from three states. (Under the Electoral College, each state chooses electors to vote for the president.) A candidate must win the electoral vote to become president.
Congress appointed a special Electoral Commission to make a decision on the matter. The commission was made up of five senators, five members of the House of Representatives, and five Supreme Court justices. In the end, the commission determined that Hayes was elected president by a margin of one electoral vote.
Select historical newspaper articles
- “Suspense, Possibly Tilden, Hopefully, Hayes,” National Republican. (Washington City, D.C.) November 8, 1876.
- “Glorious News!” National Republican. (Washington City, D.C.) November 9, 1876.
- “Hallelujah! Now You Can Crow! The Republican Party is Dead!” The Louisiana Democrat. (Alexandria, La.) November 15, 1876.
- “Counting the Electoral Votes,” The Iola Register. (Iola, Kan.) January 27, 1877.
- “The President Signs the Electoral Bill,” The Morning Star and Catholic Messenger. (New Orleans, La.) February 4, 1877.
- “The Battle for Power,” National Republican. (Washington City, D.C.) February 12, 1877.
- “The Agony Over! Hayes Elected President,” National Republican. (Washington City, D.C.) March 2, 1877.
More historical newspaper coverage
- Hayes Tilden election historical front-page newspaper coverage 1876-77
- Rutherford B. Hayes electoral commission newspaper articles 1877
“The Hayes-Tilden Electoral Commission” The Atlantic Monthly Volume 72, Issue 432, October 1893
The American Presidency Project: Election of 1876 American Presidency Project