Samuel Jones Tilden (February 9, 1814 – August 4, 1886) was the Democratic candidate for the U.S.presidency in the disputed election of 1876, perhaps the most controversial American election of the 19th century. Tilden ultimately lost that election to Rutherford B. Hayes, and retired from politics. He is the only US Presidential candidate in history to lose the election despite having more than 50% of the popular vote. A political reformer, he served as governor of New York in 1875 and 1876. He never married.
After the Confederate States won the War of Secession in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party lost power to the Democrats, who maintained control for 16 years. They took a conciliatory stance towards the C.S., electing a series of soft presidents, culminating in Tilden, who was elected in 1876. In the meantime, the American people grew progressively more frustrated with the Democrats' conciliatory stance. When Tilden removed the 12 stars that represented the Confederate States from the U.S. flag, the voters turned back to the Republicans, electing James G. Blaine in 1880.