In the Presidential election of 1876, who was the Republican candidate that received the most electoral votes?

1 Answer

Rutherford B. Hayes with 185 votes. His Democratic rival, New York Gov. Tilden, received 184.


The election of 1876 was, to put it politely, a hot mess.

President Ulysses S. Grant had been president for 2 terms and oversaw the transformation of the US from a divided one, North and South as a result of the Civil War, to one that was divided North and South as a result of attempts by Northern politicians to change the way the South was governed.

President Grant, a Republican, following the tradition of not being President for a third term (set by George Washington), stepped aside (he also knew that his government was accused of corruption and scandals so that he would have a hard election cycle).

The Democrats nominated New York Gov. Samuel Tilden, who had made a name for himself by fighting corruption in his home state. He believed that the North should remove troops from the South and let the southerners decide for themselves how to govern. Tilden won his nomination by a landslide.

The Republicans eventually nominated Ohio Gov. Rutherford B. Hayes after the 7th ballot at the Republican convention. And it's not like he started in 2nd place. Nope. He started in 5th. The guy they really wanted was Rep. James B. Blaine, but there was worry that he wouldn't be able to win in the general election. That worry grew with round after round of voting. Hayes was given the nod as a compromise candidate.

Which brings us to the general election. There were 38 states at that time - 4 of them: Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Oregon all reported voter fraud and voter suppression. Certificates awarding electors to the electoral college were signed by different people within different states giving different results. (The details here are an amusing read and would make a great movie - check them out here:,_1876)

Eventually, with Inauguration Day approaching and still no elected president, a committee was comprised and it found a compromise (the details here are also amusing and complicated, but essentially the Democrats got played - see the link above) that gave the election to Hayes but with the agreement that he would fulfill some pledges made the Democrats - including pulling the North out of the South.

Hayes lost the popular vote. He carried 21 states to Tilden's 17. And Hayes won 185 electoral votes - to Tilden's 184.

President Rutherford B. Hayes - compromise candidate became compromise President.