Samuel Jones Tilden (February 9, 1814 – August 4, 1886) was the 25th Governor of New York and the Democratic candidate for president in the disputed election of 1876.
He was the first individual to win an outright majority of the popular vote in a United States presidential election but lose the election itself, though four other candidates have lost a presidential election despite garnering a plurality of the popular vote.
Tilden was born into a wealthy family in New Lebanon, New York.
Attracted to politics at a young age, he became a protégé of Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States.
After studying at Yale University and New York University School of Law, Tilden began a legal career in New York City, becoming a noted corporate lawyer.
He served in the New York State Assembly and helped launch Van Buren's third party, anti-slavery candidacy in the 1848 presidential election.
Though he opposed the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Tilden supported the Union during the American Civil War.
After the Civil War, Tilden was selected as the chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee, and he managed Democratic nominee Horatio Seymour's campaign in the 1868 presidential election.
Tilden initially cooperated with the state party's Tammany Hall faction, but he broke with them in 1871 due to boss William M.
Tweed's rampant corruption.
Tilden won election as Governor of New York in 1874, and in that office he helped break up the "Canal Ring." Tilden's battle against public corruption, along with his personal fortune and electoral success in the country's most populous state, made him a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 1876.
Tilden was selected as the Democratic Party's nominee on the second ballot of the 1876 Democratic National Convention.
In the general election, Tilden faced Republican candidate Rutherford B.
Hayes, another governor with reform credentials.
Tilden focused his campaign on civil service reform, support for the gold standard, and opposition to high taxes, but many of his supporters were more concerned with ending Reconstruction in the South.
Most observers initially believed that Tilden had won the election, but disputes in four states left both Tilden and Hayes without a majority of the electoral vote.
As Tilden had won 184 electoral votes, one vote shy of a majority, a Hayes victory required that he sweep all of the disputed electoral votes.
Against Tilden's wishes, Congress appointed the bipartisan Electoral Commission to settle the controversy.
Republicans had a one-seat advantage on the Electoral Commission, and in a series of party-line rulings, ruled that Hayes had won all of the disputed electoral votes.
In the Compromise of 1877, Democratic leaders agreed to accept Hayes as the victor in return for the end of Reconstruction.
Tilden was a major contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 1880 and 1884 presidential elections, but declined to run.