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The presidential election of 1876, pitting Republican Rutherford B. Hayes against Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, has some interesting parallels with the presidential election of 2000.  In particular, the 1876 election involved an Electoral College dispute which was not explicitly covered by the U.S. Constitution.  It was ultimately resolved by an ad hoc Electoral Commission created by Congress and consisting of 5 Supreme Court justices, 5 senators, and 5 House members.  After 16 weeks of heated controversy, a president was finally chosen three days before the scheduled inauguration.  By an 8 to 7 margin, the Electoral Commission awarded all of the contested 20 electoral ballots to Hayes, allowing the Republican to win the presidency by one electoral vote, 185-184.

Other current and potential parallels between the presidential elections of 1876 and 2000 include:

  • Florida and, to a lesser extent, Oregon played a central role in the controversy.

  • The snowball effect of the dispute threatened to bring the electoral count in other states, such as Wisconsin, into play.

  • The Electoral College and the popular vote were won by different candidates.

  • The controversy was followed closely by the public and press, sending newspaper sales soaring.

  • The elections were held on the same date, Tuesday, November 7.








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