Electoral Commission Decides Presidential Election

1877

On Election Day, Democrat Samuel Tilden wins the popular vote by a margin of less than 250,000 votes (out of 8.5 million votes cast) against Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. But Tilden’s 184 electoral votes are one short of the necessary majority, while Hayes’s 165 electoral votes leave him 20 votes shy of winning the Presidency. Several of the southern states under Reconstruction rule, submit two slates of electors, one for Tilden and the other for Hayes. Because Republicans control the Senate and Democrats hold the majority in the House, they cannot reach agreement on which ballots to count. They establish an Electoral Commission, composed of senators, representatives, and Supreme Court justices. Voting on party lines, the commission awards all the disputed electors to Hayes, giving him a one-vote victory in the Electoral College, and the Presidency.