In 1876, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden vied for the presidency. But when Election Day was over, no clear winner emerged. Amid reports of voter fraud, intimidation and violence, both parties claimed victory in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida, the only three Southern states where Republicans still held the reins of local government.
It was the most bitterly disputed election in American history. As the stalemate dragged on, the nation faced a Constitutional crisis. The outcome of the presidency, the fate of Reconstruction, and the futures of millions of Black Southerners hung in the balance.
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