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Rutherford B. Hayes - 19th President of the United States


Gen. Rutherford B. Hayes, President, U.S.  (National Archives)
Gen. Rutherford B. Hayes, President, U.S. (National Archives)


Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 19th (1877-1881) President of the United States. He was a Representative from Ohio prior to his Presidency. He was born in Delaware, Delaware County, Ohio, October 4, 1822. He attended the common schools, the Methodist Academy in Norwalk, Ohio, and the Webb Preparatory School in Middletown, Connecticut. He was graduated from Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, in August 1842 and from the Harvard Law School in January 1845. He was admitted to the bar May 10, 1845, and commenced practice in Lower Sandusky (now Fremont). 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, June 27, 1861, lieutenant colonel October 24, 1861, colonel October 24, 1862, brigadier general of Volunteers October 9, 1864 and brevetted major general of Volunteers March 3, 1865.

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.

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 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).

As in 2000 however, the decision was left to the Electoral College, where the votes of four states were contested. In order to win, the candidates had to muster 185 votes: Tilden was short just one, with 184 votes, Hayes had 165, while 20 votes, representing four states, 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. After months of deliberation and bargaining, Southern Democrats were assured that if Hayes was elected, he would pull federal troops out of the south and end Reconstruction. In return, the Democrats agreed to a committee to determine the final outcome of the election. The committee, which consisted of eight Republicans and seven Democrats, voted to give all the votes to Hayes. The Republicans justified this, claiming that the problem in these states was over who had the right to vote. The Democrats, on the other hand, felt that they had been robbed of the presidency, and called Hayes "Rutherfraud."

He was inaugurated March 5, 1877, and served until March 3, 1881. He died in Fremont, Sandusky County, Ohio, 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.

 

 
Photographs and Documents of President Rutherford B. Hayes



Presidential Proclamation 240 of October 7, 1878, by President Rutherford B. Hayes authorizing the use of military force against rebellions., 10/07/1878
 (National Archives)
Presidential Proclamation 240 of October 7, 1878, by President Rutherford B. Hayes authorizing the use of military force against rebellions., 10/07/1878 (National Archives)





Message of President Rutherford B. Hayes nominating William M. Evarts to be Secretary of State, 03/05/1877 (National Archives)
Message of President Rutherford B. Hayes nominating William M. Evarts to be Secretary of State, 03/05/1877 (National Archives)

 
Quick Facts about President Rutherford B. Hayes

Rank: 19th (1877-1881)
Followed: Ulysses S. Grant
Succeeded by: James Garfield 
Date of Birth October 4, 1822
Place of Birth: Delaware, Ohio
Date of Death: January 17, 1893
Place of Death: Fremont, Ohio
First Lady: Lucy Ware Webb
Occupation: lawyer
Political Party: Republican
Vice President: William A. Wheeler


 
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