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Samuel J. Tilden

Samuel J. Tilden (February 4, 1814 - August 4, 1886) was the Democratic candidate for the US presidency in 1876, one of the most controversial elections in American history. He won the popular vote but enough electoral college votes from the Republican-controlled states in the Reconstruction South to throw the election into the U.S. House of Representatives. The House awarded the presidency to Rutherford B. Hayes after he promised to end Reconstruction.

Tilden grew up in New York State and became a skilled corporate lawyer. His legal practice, combined with shrewd investments, made him rich. A Free-Soil[?] advocate in the 1840s, he was among the few such who did not join the Republican Party. Instead, he became a leader of the New York State Democratic Party. After the Civil War, he helped bring down Boss Tweed; his reputation as a reformer enabled him to become governor of New York in 1874. He continued his government reforms, and his successful service as governor gained him the presidential nomination.

After losing the presidency to Hayes, Tilden declined renomination in 1880 and 1884. He died a bachelor in 1886; much of his estate went to found the New York Public Library, whose building bears his name on its front.

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