1877 Reconstruction Ends:
President Rutherford B. Hayes removed the remaining federal troops in the South from guarding the statehouses in South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. It marked the symbolic end of Reconstruction. Subsequently, white-only, Democratic “redeemer” governments came to power in those states.

1878 Bland-Allison Act:
On February 28, Congress overrode a veto by President Hayes to enact the Bland-Allison Act. Under its provisions, the U.S. Treasury had to buy $2-4 million in silver each month at the market rate from mines in the American West, and mint the silver into legal-tender coins. The Hayes administration bought the minimum amount, thereby limiting the impact of silver on the economy. The law made the United States officially bimetal, but gold remained the dominant coin. The return of economic prosperity reduced the urgency of the money question until the 1890s.

1879 Specie Resumption Act:
The Specie Resumption Act (passed in 1875) went into effect on January 1, 1879. It required the federal government to redeem (legally exchange) greenbacks (paper currency) with gold.

1880 Republican National Convention:
The Republican National Convention met in Chicago on June 2-8. The two leading contenders for the presidential nomination were Senator James G. Blaine of Maine and ex-president Ulysses S. Grant. Other candidates included Treasury Secretary John Sherman and Senator George Edmunds of Vermont. None of the leaders were able to gain a majority, so delegates turned to Congressman James Garfield of Ohio, who won the presidential nomination on the 36th ballot. Instead of following tradition by allowing delegates to choose the vice-presidential nominee, Garfield oversaw the selection of Chester Arthur, a protégé of the powerful Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York. The Republican platform endorsed protective tariffs, veterans’ pensions, railroad and corporation grants; opposed unrestricted Chinese immigration; and waffled on the civil service issue.

Democratic National Convention:
The Democratic National Convention met in Cincinnati on June 22-23. General Winfield Hancock won the presidential nomination on the third ballot, defeating Senator Thomas Bayard of Delaware and Speaker of the House Samuel Randall of Pennsylvania. William English, a former congressman, received the vice-presidential nomination. The hopes of delegates that the wealthy English would substantially finance the campaign and win his home state of Indiana were not fulfilled.

Election Results:
On November 2, 1880, Republican James Garfield was elected president with an Electoral College margin of 214-155 over Democrat Winfield Hancock. Garfield narrowly edged Hancock in the popular vote, 48.3%-48.2%. Republicans recaptured control of both houses of Congress by slim margins.

Burlingame Treaty Revision:
The Burlingame Treaty of 1868 had protected unrestricted immigration between China and the United States. In response to anti-Chinese sentiment in the United States, particularly on the West Coast, the outgoing Hayes administration signed a revision of the Burlingame Treaty in November 1880. It allowed the American government to suspend (but not prohibit) the immigration of Chinese laborers to the United States. For more information, see HarpWeek’s website on Chinese-Americans.

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