Rutherford B. Hayes

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Rutherford Birchard Hayes
Rutherford Birchard Hayes
Term of office March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1881
Preceded by Ulysses S. Grant
Succeeded by James A. Garfield
Date of birth October 4, 1822
Place of birth Delaware, Ohio
Spouse Lucy Webb Hayes
Political party Republican

Rutherford Birchard Hayes (October 4, 1822January 17, 1893) was the 19th President of the United States (18771881).


Early political career

He was born in Delaware, Ohio, October 4, 1822 to Rutherford Hayes and Sophia Birchard. Hayes' father died before Hayes was born and an uncle, Sardis Birchard, lived with the family and served as Hayes' guardian. Hayes attended the common schools and the Methodist Academy in Norwalk, Ohio]. He graduated from Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, in August 1842 and from the Harvard Law School in January 1845. He was admitted to the bar on May 10, 1845, and commenced practice in Lower Sandusky, Ohio (now Fremont, Ohio). He moved to Cincinnati in 1849 and resumed the practice of law. He was city solicitor from 1857 to 1859. He was commissioned a major of the Twenty-third Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on June 27, 1861, lieutenant colonel, on October 24, 1861, colonel on October 24, 1862, brigadier general of Volunteers on October 9, 1864, and brevetted major general of Volunteers on March 3, 1865.

Hayes saw combat and was severely wounded at the Battle of South Mountain commanding the 23rd Ohio Infantry at Fox Gap. A musket ball struck him in the left arm above the elbow. The ball fractured but did not splinter the bone, which would have necessitated amputation of the limb.

He was rather close to his sister as can be seen in this diary entry: July, 1856.--My dear only sister, my beloved Fanny, is dead! The dearest friend of childhood, the affectionate adviser, the confidante of all my life, the one I loved best, is gone; alas! never again to be seen on earth.

He was a Representative from Ohio prior to his Presidency. Hayes was elected as a Republican to the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Congresses and served from March 4, 1865, to July 20, 1867, when he resigned, having been nominated for Governor of Ohio. He was Governor from 1868 to 1872, and an unsuccessful candidate for election to the Forty-third Congress. He was again elected Governor and served from January 1876 to March 2, 1877, when he resigned, having been elected President of the United States. Since March 4, 1877 was a Sunday, Hayes took the oath of office in the Red Room of the White House on March 3. He took the oath again publicly on March 5 on the East Portico of the United States Capitol, and he served until March 3, 1881.


Hayes' portrait
Hayes' portrait

Hayes became president after the tumultuous, scandal-ridden years of the Grant administration. He had a reputation for honesty dating back to his Civil War years, when as a major general he had refused to campaign for Congress, saying that any officer who left his command to run for office "ought to be scalped." As Governor of Ohio, his scrupulousness sometimes dismayed even his political allies, and Hayes was nicknamed "Old Granny." Nevertheless, his opponent in the presidential election, Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, was the favorite to win the presidential election and, in fact, won the popular vote by about 250,000 votes (with about 8.5 million voters in total).

Election of 1876

Four states' electoral college votes were contested. In order to win, the candidates had to muster 185 votes: Tilden was short just one, with 184 votes, Hayes had 165, with 20 votes representing four states which were contested. To make matters worse, three of these states (Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina) were in the South, which was still under military occupation, the fourth being Oregon.

After months of deliberation and bargaining, Southern Democrats were assured that if Hayes were elected, he would pull federal troops out of the South and end Reconstruction. An agreement was made between them and the Republicans -- if Hayes' cabinet consisted of at least one Southerner and he withdrew all Union troups from the South, then he would become president. This is sometimes considered to be a second Corrupt Bargain.

South America

In 1878 Hayes was asked by the Argentines to act as arbitrator following the War of the Triple Alliance between Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay against Paraguay. The Argentines hoped that Hayes would give the Chaco region to them, however he decided in favour of the Paraguayans. His decision made him a hero in Paraguay, and a city (Villa Hayes) and a region (Presidente Hayes) was named in his honour.

Notable legislation

During his presidency, Hayes signed a number of bills including one signed on February 15, 1879 which, for the first time, allowed female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.


President Rutherford B. Hayes 1877–1881
Vice President William A. Wheeler 1877–1881
Secretary of State William M. Evarts 1877–1881
Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman 1877–1881
Secretary of War George W. McCrary 1877–1879
  Alex Ramsey 1879–1881
Attorney General Charles Devens 1877–1881
Postmaster General David M. Key 1877–1880
  Horace Maynard 1880 – 1881
Secretary of the Navy Richard W. Thompson 1877–1880
  Nathan Goff, Jr. 1881
Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz 1877–1881

Supreme Court appointments

Hayes appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:

Significant events during his presidency


Hayes did not seek re-election in 1880, keeping his pledge that he would not run for a second term. He had, in his inaugural address, proposed a one-term limit for the presidency combined with an increase in the term length to six years. Rutherford Birchard Hayes died of complications of a heart attack in Fremont, Sandusky County, Ohio, at 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday January 17, 1893. Interment was in Oakwood Cemetery. Following the gift of his home to the State of Ohio for the Spiegel Grove State Park he was reinterred there in 1915.

See also

External links

Preceded by:
Alexander Long
U.S. Congressman for the 2nd District of Ohio
1865 – 1867
Succeeded by:
Samuel F. Cary
Preceded by:
Jacob D. Cox
Governor of Ohio
1868 – 1872
Succeeded by:
Edward F. Noyes
Preceded by:
William Allen
Governor of Ohio
1876 – 1877
Succeeded by:
Thomas L. Young
Preceded by:
Ulysses S. Grant
Republican Party presidential candidate
1876 (won)
Succeeded by:
James A. Garfield
Preceded by:
Ulysses S. Grant
President of the United States
March 4, 1877March 3, 1881
Succeeded by:
James A. Garfield

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