Introduction While the Fourteenth Amendment provides the promise of "equal protection under the law" for all American citizens, the intimidation of the Ku Klux Klan and lynch mobs created a sense of terror for anyone challenging the southern social order in the years during and after Reconstruction. Imagine growing up with the promise of emancipation and then witnessing segregation and discrimination becoming de facto law! And If you were a black resident in a state that had not implemented "Jim Crow" laws, do you think these laws would apply to you if you traveled into a Jim Crow state? Jim Crow laws legalized a system of segregation and discrimination and attempted to override the Emancipation Proclamation. n the wake of dramatic legal gains for African Americans following the Civil War, how did Jim Crow laws grow into such prominence in the South? A number of factors contributed to the development of the Jim Crow system, including racism inherent in the slavery system, reaction to radical reconstruction, and a too-close-to-call presidential election in 1876. Rulings by the Supreme Court substantiated and validated the system. The Jim Crow system affected almost every aspect of life for African Americans in the South. Some laws made it nearly impossible for African Americans to vote. Other laws ensured segregation in almost every part of public life. Within this culture, discrimination, abuse, and even murder of African Americans was accepted. Rise of Jim Crow The 1876 presidential election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden proved to be a turning point for the South and Reconstruction. The election was close, and both parties claimed victory. At issue were 20 disputed electoral votes in Oregon, South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. Voting fraud and voter intimidation were alleged in the Southern states.
The Constitution didn't provide a way to settle a presidential election disputed due to allegations of voter irregularities, so Congress created an Electoral Commission comprising five senators, five representatives from the House, and five Supreme Court justices to decide the election's outcome.The commission, which had eight Republicans and seven Democrats, decided to award the electoral votes to Hayes. The Senate, in accordance with the constitutional provisions accorded the body, announced Hayes's presidency the night before Grant's term of office was to expire. Reportedly, the two political parties reached what became known as the Compromise of 1877: Hayes would be given the presidency if he would agree to end Reconstruction in the South. Once in office, Hayes did, indeed, end Reconstruction and return southern states to "home rule." In the South, the end of Reconstruction brought rapid change in state and local governments.Bitterness toward the "Yankee rule" of the Reconstruction era led to a backlash against the Republican party. Many Democrats, mostly wealthy planters, professionals, and merchants, were elected to office at every level.