Rutherford B. Hayes - Nineteenth President of the United States

Rutherford B. Hayes - Nineteenth President of the United States

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Rutherford B. Hayes's Childhood and Education:

Hayes was born into a family that had a long history of military service. Both his grandparents fought in the American Revolution. Born on October 4, 1822 in Delaware, Ohio eleven weeks after his father's death, Hayes was raised by his mother. He attended a Methodist school and a college preparatory academy before attending Kenyon College. He graduated first in his class. He then studied law before entering Harvard Law School. He graduated in 1845 and was admitted to the bar.

Family Ties:

Hayes was born to Rutherford Hayes, a merchant and farmer, and Sophia Birchard Hayes. He had one sister named Fanny A. Platt. On December 30, 1852, Hayes married Lucy Ware Webb. She would later be dubbed Lemonade Lucy for her banning of alcohol at the White House. Together, they had four sons and one daughter.

Rutherford B. Hayes's Career Before the Presidency:

In 1845, Hayes began practicing law in Ohio. From 1858-61, he served as the Cincinnati City Solicitor. Hayes served in the Civil War, rising to the rank of major general of volunteers. He showed valor on the battlefield having been wounded several times. He resigned soon after Lee surrendered in 1865. Hayes was quickly elected as a U.S. Representative serving from 1865-67. In 1868, Hayes became the Governor of Ohio. He served from 1868-1872 and again from 1876-77 when he became President.

Becoming the President:

In 1876, Republicans chose Hayes to run for president. He was opposed by Democrat Samuel J. Tilden who won the popular vote. However, the vote in three Republican-controlled states was in confusion. Tilden only needed one electoral vote to win while Hayes needed every vote from all three. When doing the recount, many Democratic ballots were ruled invalid in Florida and Louisiana. A investigative commission voted 8-7 along party lines to give all the electoral votes to Hayes allowing him to win.

Events and Accomplishments of Rutherford B. Hayes's Presidency:

Hayes began his administration with the Compromise of 1877 by which military occupation of the South ended. This helped satisfy Southerners who were upset over the results of the election.

Currency and whether silver should be bought and turned into coins or whether instead "greenbacks" should be redeemable in gold was in contention. The Bland-Allison Act passed in 1878 over Hayes' veto required the government to buy silver in order to create more coins. The idea was that increased availability of money would help farmers and debtors. In 1879, the Resuption of Specie Act passed that backed greenbacks created after January 1, 1879 to be redeemable in gold.

In 1880, Hayes had his Secretary of State create a pact with China which restricted Chinese immigration due to an anti-Chinese movement out west. This was a compromise because Hayes had vetoed a bill which didn't allow Chinese to immigrate at all.

Post-Presidential Period:

Hayes never planned to run for a second term in office and retired in 1881. He spent the rest of his life devoted to causes of importance to him such as providing scholarships to African Americans and encouraging temperance. He was also one of the trustees of Ohio State University. He died on January 17, 1893 of a heart attack.

Historical Significance:

President Hayes had strongly held views which he pushed forward throughout his administration. He believed in and proposed civil service reform measures. Further, he set down a policy that a canal in Central America could only be under American control as the French were attempting to create one during his administration. This would eventually lead to the development of the Panama Canal.


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