By Debra Kirby
Like so many fellow “political junkies” I know, the current U.S. presidential election season has provided more than enough fodder to hold our interest—sometimes a little too much! From checking polling websites and political news coverage numerous times a day to spending way too much time in the evenings watching cable TV, all while using multiple mobile devices so as not to miss any “breaking news” updates, it can become overwhelming. Some people get relief by going for a run, reading a good book, or watching funny cat videos. While I’ve tried all these methods, I’ve found the most comfort by revisiting history, where many stories of other contentious elections exist. For example:
Perhaps the most controversial presidential election in U.S. history was the post-Civil War 1876 election, when one electoral vote in favor of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes separated him from Democratic opponent, Samuel J. Tilden, who won 51% of the popular vote. (Twenty disputed electoral votes ultimately went to Hayes to give him the one vote lead.) The story of this election involves particularly nasty campaign accusations, a delayed outcome requiring a special congressional commission, recounts in four states—including Florida—and dire predictions of a second civil war. The compromise that was reached forestalled another war, but had long-term repercussions for both political parties as well as African American civil rights. Read all about this and other elections in Gale U.S. History In Context, where you will find topic articles, biographies, primary sources and more!
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