Back To CoursePost-Civil War U.S. History: Help and Review
14 chapters | 211 lessons
As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 75,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.Try it risk-free
In the latter years of the 19th century in the United States, there was a series of bearded presidents who have been largely forgotten to history. Most of them were Civil War veterans, most were from the state of Ohio, and they all had a big impact on the history of the United States. Rutherford Birchard Hayes, the 19th President of the United States is just one of these presidents.
Hayes was one of many presidents born in Ohio. He was born in 1822 and spent the early years of his life without his father, who died before Rutherford was born. His mother raised several children and ran a store in Delaware, Ohio. Hayes attended local schools and went to Kenyon College in 1838. He continued on to attend Harvard Law School, and became a lawyer practicing in Sandusky in the 1840s. He moved to Cincinnati in 1850, was married in 1852, and had several children by the start of the American Civil War in 1861.
In 1861, Hayes took up arms to defend the Union, being appointed a major in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The regiment initially fought in the Kanawha Division of the Union army, seeing service in what is now West Virginia. In 1862, during the Maryland Campaign, Hayes was the lieutenant colonel of the regiment. He was wounded in the left arm at the Battle of South Mountain on September 14, 1862. After recovering from his wounds, Hayes became a colonel and took command of a brigade in the Kanawha Division. He and his men remained in western Virginia for many months to come. In 1864 they took part in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Hayes was noted for bravery and gallant conduct under fire, drawing praise from Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant himself.
Toward the end of the Civil War, Hayes was elected to congress as a Republican in the House of Representatives. He voted to pass important post-war legislation, such as the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted citizenship to all born in the U.S., including former slaves. He was a Republican who wanted to add safeguards for freed blacks in the South and make sure Southern states recognized the rights of former slaves before they were brought back into the Union.
Hayes also was one of the Republicans who disagreed with President Andrew Johnson on Reconstruction policies, policies regarding the re-admittance of southern states and enforcement of federal laws, voting against Johnson's agenda and for harsher policies regarding the states' remittance.
In 1867, Hayes was elected Governor of Ohio. He was re-elected in 1869, when he was able to secure a Republican state legislature and then govern as he saw fit. Hayes tried to expand voting rights and worked to found a state university to focus on agriculture and mechanics. This would eventually become Ohio State.
In 1872, Hayes retired from politics to a private life away from the public eye. He went to his home in Fremont, Ohio, to spend time with his children. After economic troubles that hit the nation, Hayes decided to get back into public life, and was elected Ohio governor again in 1875.
With his return to office, Hayes was a perfect choice for the Republican presidential nomination in 1876. The Ohio delegation to the Republican convention pressed his candidacy. He was nominated after several ballots. His status as a Republican governor and war hero made him a perfect choice to run for president.
Hayes's entire life and presidency are best known for how he was elected to the office. Hayes's opponent in 1876 was the Democratic Governor of New York, Samuel Tilden. The 1876 election was one of the closest elections in American history. Tilden garnered a narrow margin of victory in the popular vote, but neither candidate received the majority of the Electoral College votes. Because of election fraud, there were 20 electoral votes up for grabs after the election, and both parties fought for them.
To resolve these problems, President Ulysses Grant, the 18th President of the United States, organized an Electoral Commission to decide the matter. Composed of Supreme Court Justices, Representatives, and Senators, this appeared to be the best way to make a decision. The committee decided in Hayes's favor, which enraged Democrats.
A compromise was reached between the two parties shortly before the new president was to be sworn in in 1877. Hayes and the Republicans agreed that, if the Democrats would withdraw their opposition and allow Hayes to take the presidency, all Federal troops in the South for reconstruction purposes would be withdrawn, ending the Union occupation of Southern states. Thus, Hayes became the 19th President of the United States in 1877
During his presidency, Hayes worked on matters of civil service reform, reconstruction, and civil rights. Despite pulling out Federal troops, Hayes still worked to continue and strengthen those Southern laws that guaranteed the right to vote for African Americans. Pulling Federal troops out of the South meant that the government would have a tougher time enforcing these measures. Furthermore, Democrats in Congress resisted Hayes's efforts to protect former slaves. With the compromises made to ensure his election, and such resistance, Hayes's presidency saw the South begin to slip into practices of racial prejudice in the first post-Reconstruction years.
Hayes also struggled to do away with the spoils system, a system in which the winners of an election would give jobs to friends, relatives and supporters and corruption in the government. He ran on policies of civil service reform and he did what he could, but resistance in Congress meant that many of his reform efforts had to take the form of executive orders. Hayes also worked to move the country back toward the gold standard for currency following the widespread use of paper money during and after the Civil War.
In 1877, the Great Railroad Strike threatened the country's infrastructure, forcing Hayes to try to calm riots that spread across the affected regions, mainly Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland. After having pledged to serve only one term, Hayes did not run for re-election in 1880. Fellow Ohioan, Republican, and Civil War veteran James A. Garfield was elected president that year, only to be shot and die a few months into his presidency in 1881.
After his time as president, Hayes returned to Ohio. He served on the Board of Trustees of Ohio State University and continued speaking out on issues and causes important to him, such as rights for African Americans. He died in Ohio in 1893.
Ultimately, Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States, was a remarkable man with many early accomplishments as a general in the Civil War, in which he was wounded at the Battle of South Mountain, and as a congressman afterword, where he helped pass the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted citizenship to all born in in the U.S., including former slaves. His accomplishments continued as Governor of Ohio, and finally, as Republican President of the United States.
Yet, he is best remembered today for how he became president. The election of 1876 was one of the closest and most hotly contested elections in American history. Since Democratic Governor Samuel Tilden won the popular vote, a commission had to be held to determine the next president of the United States, which eventually granted Hayes the remaining 20 electoral votes. The compromise that led to Hayes' Electoral College victory pulled out Federal troops from the South, which meant an end to Federal Reconstruction, policies regarding the re-admittance of southern states and enforcement of federal laws.
As President, Hayes ran policies on civil service reform and fought corruption within government, including fighting against the spoils system, a system in which the winners of an election would give jobs to friends, relatives and supporters.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Already a member? Log InBack
Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.
To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page
Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.
Back To CoursePost-Civil War U.S. History: Help and Review
14 chapters | 211 lessons