- NAME: Rutherford B. Hayes
- OCCUPATION: Lawyer, Military Leader, Governor, U.S. President, U.S. Representative
- BIRTH DATE: October 04, 1822
- DEATH DATE: January 17, 1893
- EDUCATION: Kenyon College, Harvard Law School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Delaware, Ohio
- PLACE OF DEATH: Fremont, Ohio
- Full Name: Rutherford Birchard Hayes
Best Known For
Rutherford B. Hayes was the 19th president of the United States and oversaw the end of the rebuilding efforts of the Reconstruction.
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Born on October 4, 1822, in Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes was the 19th president of the United States. Before becoming president, he served in distinguished legal, military and congressional posts, and was governor of Ohio. After winning the presidency in one of the most contested elections in American history, he led the country through the end of Reconstruction and resigned after one term in office.
"He serves his party best who serves his country best."
Rutherford B. Hayes was born on October 4, 1822, in Delaware, Ohio. His family had moved to Ohio five years previously, and his father had died about two months before Hayes’ birth. Hayes and his sister, Fanny, were raised by their mother, and Hayes attended various schools until graduating from Kenyon College in 1842 as his class’s valedictorian. Three years later he emerged with a law degree from Harvard Law School and began practicing law in Lower Sandusky, Ohio. Four years later, in 1849, Hayes picked up and moved to the more bustling Cincinnati, where his law practice flourished and where he was first drawn to the Republican Party. (Hayes’ antislavery sentiments found a kinship in the Republicans.)
In 1852, Rutherford married Lucy Webb, a graduate of Cincinnati's Wesleyan Women's College. (She would later become the first president’s wife who had graduated from college.)
Hayes fought in the Army during the Civil War, rising to the rank of major general and sustaining severe injuries at the Battle of South Mountain. While Hayes was still in the Army, Republicans from Cincinnati convinced him to run for the House of Representatives, and he was easily elected, entering Congress in December 1865. Two years later, he had resigned and begun his first term as governor of Ohio, going on to serve three terms.
In 1876, the Republicans put Hayes up to run for president against Democrat Samuel Tilden of New York. Despite such widely known figures as Mark Twain campaigning on his behalf, Hayes never thought he could win, and when the popular vote came in, Hayes had lost by a narrow 250,000-vote margin. However, contested electoral-college votes in Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina kept the candidate afloat: If all of the disputed votes went to Hayes, he would win; if even a single vote went to Tilden, Hayes was finished.
In what would end up being one of the most controversial elections in American history, uncertainty reigned for months after the election, until January 1877, when Congress established an ad hoc electoral commission to decide the dispute once and for all. The commission was composed of eight Republicans and seven Democrats, so it was no surprise that it decided in favor of Hayes by an 8-7 vote, handing the final electoral tally to Hayes by a 185-184 count.
The result was contentious, and to avoid fueling any burning flames of resentment, Hayes secretly took the oath of office on Saturday, March 3, 1877, in the Red Room of the White House. (Hayes was the first president to take the oath in the White House; he was also the first president to have a typewriter and a telephone there.)
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