19th United States President, Civil War Union Major General, US Congressman, Ohio Governor. He became President after one of the closest elections in United States history. Born in Delaware, Ohio in 1822, he was educated at Kenyon College and the Harvard Law School. After five years of law practice in Sandusky, Ohio, he moved to Cincinnati, where he continued to practice law. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Union Army, and rose to the rank of Major General. While he was still in the Army, Cincinnati Republicans nominated him for the House of Representatives, which he accepted, and was elected. He resigned in 1867, to accept the Governorship of Ohio, and was twice reelected as Governor. His policies of liberalism, party loyalty, and a good war record made him a good candidate for President, and in 1876, he ran on the Republican ticket against Samuel J. Tilden of New York. At first, it appeared that the Democrats would win, but in one of the narrowest election victories, he won the election by a vote of 185 electoral votes to 184 electoral votes for Tilden. In the popular vote, he was outvoted by Tilden, 4,300,000 Democratic votes to 4,036,000 Republican votes. The actual Electoral Commission, consisting of 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats, voted 8 to 7 to elect him. Reacting to the political corruption of the previous Ulysses Grant administration, Hayes insisted that all political appointments would be based upon merit and not politics. He incurred the wrath of many Republicans because he appointed an ex-Confederate Officer to his cabinet, and another Cabinet member had left the Republican Party in 1872. During his one term administration, Hayes protected the rights of Negroes in the South, and strove to develop "wise, honest, and peaceful local self-government," by withdrawing the occupation troops from the southern states. Hayes had hoped that such policies would build a new Republican party in the South. While many southern political leaders approved of Hayes's economic policies and financial conservation, they faced political suicide if they joined the Republican Party (the Party of Radical Reconstruction) and thus, the southern states remained "the Solid South," always voting Democratic. Hayes had promised that he would serve only one term as President, and in 1881, he retired to his home in Fremont, Ohio, where he died in 1893. His son, Webb Cook Hayes, served in the United States Army during the Philippine Insurrection, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
OCTOBER 4, 1822-JANUARY 17, 1893