Rutherford B. Hayes
Born: October 4, 1822 in Delaware, Ohio
Died: January 17, 1893 in Fremont,
Married to Lucy Ware Webb Hayes
Beneficiary of the most fiercely disputed election in
American history, Rutherford B. Hayes brought to the Executive Mansion
dignity, honesty, and moderate reform.
To the delight of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, Lucy Webb
Hayes carried out her husband's orders to banish wines and liquors from
the White House.
Born in Ohio in 1822, Hayes was educated at Kenyon College and Harvard
Law School. After five years of law practice in Lower Sandusky, he moved
to Cincinnati, where he flourished as a young Whig lawyer.
He fought in the Civil War, was wounded in action,
and rose to the rank of brevet major general. While he was still in the
ran him for the House of Representatives. He accepted the nomination,
but would not campaign, explaining, "an officer fit for duty who
at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer... ought to be scalped."
Elected by a heavy majority, Hayes entered Congress in December 1865,
troubled by the "Rebel influences ... ruling the White House." Between
1867 and 1876 he served three terms as Governor of Ohio.
Safe liberalism, party loyalty, and a good war record made Hayes an
acceptable Republican candidate in 1876. He opposed Governor Samuel J.
Tilden of New York.
Although a galaxy of famous Republican speakers, and even Mark Twain,
stumped for Hayes, he expected the Democrats to win. When the first returns
seemed to confirm this, Hayes went to bed, believing he had lost. But
in New York, Republican National Chairman Zachariah Chandler, aware of
a loophole, wired leaders to stand firm: "Hayes has 185 votes and
is elected." The popular vote apparently was 4,300,000 for Tilden
to 4,036,000 for Hayes. Hayes's election depended upon contested electoral
votes in Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida. If all the disputed
electoral votes went to Hayes, he would win; a single one would elect
Months of uncertainty followed. In January 1877 Congress established
an Electoral Commission to decide the dispute. The commission, made up
of eight Republicans and seven Democrats, determined all the contests
in favor of Hayes by eight to seven. The final electoral vote: 185 to
Northern Republicans had been promising southern Democrats at least
one Cabinet post, Federal patronage, subsidies for internal improvements,
and withdrawal of troops from Louisiana and South Carolina.
Hayes insisted that his appointments must be made on merit, not political
considerations. For his Cabinet he chose men of high caliber, but outraged
many Republicans because one member was an ex-Confederate and another
had bolted the party as a Liberal Republican in 1872.
Hayes pledged protection of the rights of Negroes in the South, but
at the same time advocated the restoration of "wise, honest, and
peaceful local self-government." This meant the withdrawal of troops.
Hayes hoped such conciliatory policies would lead to the building of
a "new Republican party" in the South, to which white businessmen
and conservatives would rally.
Many of the leaders of the new South did indeed favor Republican economic
policies and approved of Hayes's financial conservatism, but they faced
annihilation at the polls if they were to join the party of Reconstruction.
Hayes and his Republican successors were persistent in their efforts
but could not win over the "solid South."
Hayes had announced in advance that he would serve only one term, and
retired to Spiegel Grove, his home in Fremont, Ohio, in 1881. He died