Rutherford B. Hayes: A Life of Service

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Thomas Culbertson
Director Emeritus, Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums, Fremont, Ohio, USA

Series: First Men, America’s Presidents
BISAC: BIO011000

It had never occurred to Rutherford B. Hayes that he could be a presidential contender until he won an unprecedented third term as Ohio’s governor in 1875. Up to that point, he had been content with his life, but once he got the presidential bug it could not be shaken. At the 1876 Republican National convention, Maine’s Senator James G. Blaine appeared to have the presidential nomination within his grasp until there was a stampede for Hayes on the seventh ballot. As a Civil War hero, congressman, governor, and solid family man, Hayes was an attractive candidate. As a reformer, he had no ties to the scandals that had marred the Johnson and Grant Administrations. After a hotly contested campaign, Hayes lost the popular vote to New York Governor Samuel Tilden by a quarter million votes.

The electoral count was unclear as both parties claimed to have won three Southern states. It took three months and the creation of an Electoral Commission to declare Hayes the presidential winner, just two days before his inauguration. For four years, President Hayes battled a hostile Congress controlled by Democrats as he attempted to reform the civil service, defending the independence of the presidency in an attempt to end sectionalism. His most controversial decision was to try a course of conciliation toward the South in an attempt to heal the rift from the Civil War. Many historians have said that Hayes ended Reconstruction, but in reality it was over before Hayes took office. When he was nominated to run for President, Hayes promised to serve only one term and did not renege on that promise. He returned to Ohio to live out his life with his family and to work for his community, veterans, education, prison reform, and equal rights.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface

Foreword

Chapter 1. A Buckeye Childhood

Chapter 2. A Gentleman’s Education

Chapter 3. The Fledgling Lawyer

Chapter 4. Big City Lawyer

Chapter 5. The Lawyer Becomes A Soldier

Chapter 6. The Good Colonel

Chapter 7. The Reluctant Congressman

Chapter 8. Return to Ohio

Chapter 9. Rise to Prominence

Chapter 10. The Disputed Election

Chapter 11. Two Years of Frustration

Chapter 12. The Resurgent President

Chapter 13. A Citizen Again

Chapter 14. To the End

Bibliography

Acknowledgements

Index


The book was written for students of the American presidency, the Gilded Age, Reconstruction, and the Civil War.

 

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