Samuel Tilden did indeed win the popular vote (51% against 48%). He also had more votes in the Electoral College (184 against 165). But there were also still twenty disputable electoral votes left over. This was the result of all kind of tricks pulled to change the results after election day. Some states claimed the Republican candidate had won while the popular vote pointed out otherwise, and vice versa.
Justice David Davis, who was widely regarded as the most trusted independent in the nation.
So the position of David Davis would be decisive. Then the Democrats in Illinois though they had clever idea. They tried to secure Davis' vote by electing him to the Senate. But to their surprise Davis resigned as a Justice in order to fill his Senate seat. He thereby lost his position in the Commission. Since all the remaining available Justices were Republican Davis was replaced by a Republican in the Commission.
For the 20 disputed votes the Commission decided (each with an 8-7 majority) to reward them to Hayes, resulting in a 185-184 victory and making him the next President. The Democratic-controlled House Of Representatives was very dismayed with the election of 'Rutherfraud' Hayes and even passed a resolution declaring that Tilden had been 'duly elected President of the United States'. Nevertheless Hayes was sworn in two days later.
- This was the only election in which a candidate received an absolute majority of the popular vote (more than 50%) without being elected President.
- If in South Carolina 445 voters (from the 182.683) would have voted for Tilden instead of Hayes the latter would have lost the election (source).
next episode: Lange Wapper