Reconstruction Ends in 1877
Frameworks for America's Past
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Reconstruction ended
in 1877 as a
result of the
Election of 1876

   By 1876 many Americans wanted to put the disputes of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the past.  Even in the North, many people came to believe it was time for the government to let the Southern states take care of their own affairs. 

   The Election of 1876 led to a compromise that ended the Reconstruction era.  The vote results were so close in the presidential race that leaders in Congress had to decide the winner.  They agreed to name the Republican candidate the winner, if he would agree to pull the federal troops out of the South once he took office. 

   In 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes was officially sworn into office.  As he had promised, he ordered all  federal troops to leave the South.  That officially ended Reconstruction.

   The Southern states were all back in the Union, and from that point on were managing their own affairs.

The Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes,
on the left, was declared the winner of the
presidential election in 1876.

Federal troops left the South

   This drawing from an old newspaper shows federal troops withdrawing from New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1877.  Clockwise from upper left, the drawing shows: 
  • Federal troops standing guard in the Louisiana state government headquarters in New Orleans.
  • Cannon on the waterfront docks are prepared to fire a salute (firing blanks) in honor of the evacuation (departure) of the soldiers.
  • The federal troops marching out of New Orleans as they prepare to leave the state for good. 
   Most whites in the South were glad to see Reconstruction ended and the federal troops finally gone.  African Americans, however, were not so happy.  Without the federal troops, they knew they did not have as much protection for their rights.

Looking Deeper:
Was Reconstruction a success?  Yes and no!
The "plus" side

1.  Slavery was ended forever everywhere in the U.S.

2.  Blacks were all made full citizens of the U.S.

3.  Blacks were given full legal equality with whites.

4.  Blacks were given voting rights equal to whites.

5.  Blacks started being elected to public office.

6.  Northern businessmen moved into the South and helped start new businesses and industry.

7.  Southern states began creating public school systems.

The "minus" side

1.  Congress did not approve a plan to help freed slaves get land of their own.  This left most freedmen with little choice but to work as laborers on farms owned by white landowners.

2.  The decision by Congress to send federal troops back to supervise the Southern state governments kept alive the bitter feelings left at the end of the Civil War.

3.  Anger about problems during Reconstruction left many white Southerners determined to push blacks out of the voting process one way or another.  This view, and anger about Reconstruction itself, would survive in the South for generations to come.

Photos and images are from the Library of Congress.
Some have been edited or resized for this page.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright 2009, 2016 by David Burns.  All rights reserved.  As a guide to the Virginia Standards of Learning, some pages necessarily include phrases or sentences from that document, which is available online from the Virginia Department of Education.  The author's copyright extends to the original text and graphics, unique design and layout, and related material.