The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Hayes, Rutherford Birchard

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HAYES, Rutherford Birchard, 19th President of the United States: b. Delaware, Ohio, 4 Oct. 1822; d. Fremont, Ohio, 17 Jan. 1893. He was the third son of Rutherford and Sophia (Birchard) Hayes. His earliest paternal ancestor in America was George Hayes, a Scotchman, who, prior to 1680, settled in Windsor, Conn.; was married to Sarah Dibble, and in 1698 removed to the Salmon brook district, Simsbury, now in Granby township. In 1817 the family moved to Ohio from Brattleboro, Vt. An uncle took particular interest in young Rutherford, and supplied his eager demand for books. In 1834 he took up the study of Latin and Greek under the direction of Judge Sherman Finch, of Delaware, who had been a tutor at Yale. He continued his studies in the Norwalk (Ohio) Academy, and completed his preparatory course at Middletown, Conn., under Isaac Webb. At 16 he entered Kenyon College, from which he was graduated in 1842 as the valedictorian of his class. The following year he entered the law school of Harvard University, where he remained until 1845, at the same time studying French and German and attending the lectures of Agassiz on natural science and of Longfellow on literature. He was admitted to the Ohio bar at Marietta, 10 May 1845, established himself at Lower Sandusky, now Fremont, and in April 1846 formed a law psrtnership with Ralph P. Buckland, then a member of Congress and later a major-general in the Civil War. Early in 1848 his health having failed, he wanted to enlist in the war with Mexico, but he was forbidden to do so by his physician, and, after trying the climate of New England and of Canada, he spent the following winter in Texas. Returning to Ohio with health fully restored, he settled in Cincinnati in December 1849. In 1856 he was nominated for the office of common pleas judge, but declined the honor. His public life began two years later, when the office of city solicitor became vacant, and he was elected by the council to complete the unexpired term. In 1859 he was elected to the same office by the citizens, and he performed his duties with ability until April 1861, when he was defeated for re-election.

A Whig in politics, Hayes had cast his first vote for Henry Clay in 1844, his second for General Taylor in 1848, and his third for Winfield Scott in 1852; but having been opposed to slavery from his youth, he joined the Republican party and supported Frémont with enthusiasm in 1852, and Lincoln in 1860. On 13 April 1861, at a mass-meedng, called in response to President Lincoln's proclamation asking for 75,000 troops, he was made chairman of the committee appointed to draw up resolutions, expressive of the intense feeling which had now been aroused. Forthwith the members of his literary club organized a military company and he was chosen captain. President Lincoln sent him a commission as colonel of volunteers, but he declined it. Later, 1 June 1861, he accepted a commission from Governor Dennison as major of the 23d Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a body of 900 men, of which W. S. Rosecrans was colonel and Stanley Matthews, lieutenant-colonel. This regiment was ordered into West Virginia, under Gen. George B. McClellan, to aid in driving the Confederates from that section. From 19 Sept. 1861 Major Hayes was judge-advocate of the Department of the Ohio for about two months. During the summer of 1862 his command was transferred to the Army of the Potomac, and participated in the battle of South Mountain, where, though wounded in the arm, he led a charge and held his position at the head of his men. For his conspicuous gallantry on this occasion, he was made colonel of the 23d Regiment on 24 Oct. 1862. He was detailed from his regiment to act as brigadier-general in command of the celebrated Kanawha division; checked the raid of the Confederate, John Morgan, in July 1863, and aided in preventing his force from re-crossing the Ohio and in compelling its leader to surrender. He commanded a brigade under General Crook in the spring of 1864, which took pari in cutting the principal lines of communication between Richmond and the Southwest, and he led it in storming a fortified position on the crest of Clay's Mountain. Later, still under Crook, he joined Hunter's army in the march against Lynchburg, and covered the retreat in the dangerous passage of the Alleghanies. In the first battle of Winchester, 24 July 1864, Colonel Hayes and Col. James Mulligan were ordered to charge what proved to be a greatly superior force. Mulligan fell, but Hayes flanked and conducted the retreat of his brigade with great intrepidity and skill, eventually checking the pursuit. At Perryville he also served with credit and at the second battle of Winchester, 19 Sept. 1864, performed an act of signal bravery. Advancing against a battery situated on an eminence, he suddenly came to a deep slough, some 50 yards in width. Nevertheless, he plunged in at once, and, although his horse sank in the mire, he extricated himself, climbed to the top of the other bank, and, with about 40 who followed, charged the battery and put its defenders to flight. He led a division at Fisher's Hill, 22 Sept. 1864, where he gained the enemy's rear and routed them, capturing seven pieces of artillery. A month later, he was engaged at Cedar Creek, where while in retreat he had a horse shot under him and he was slightly wounded in the head. A few days later he was made brigadier-general and on 13 March 1865 was brevetted major-general for his distinguished services at Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek. While still in the army, 6 Aug. 1864, he was nominated for Congress from the Second Ohio district. He was elected to the 39th Congress, and he was nominated for governor by the soldiers in the field. In August 1866, he was renominated by acclamation and was elected to the 40th Congress by a large majority. In Congress he was appointed chairman of the library committee and succeeded in greatly amending the copyright law, as well as in trebling the area, contents and usefulness of the Congressional library. His votes in matters affecting the reconstruction of the South were given with his party; his first vote was for a resolution affirming the sacredness of the public debt and denouncing every form of repudiation. He sustained the movement for the impeachment of President Johnson. In 1867 he was nominated for Governor of Ohio by the Republicans. He was elected with his Republican associates in November. He steadily increased in personal popularity and was re-elected governor in 1869. During his administration he carried out a comprehensive geological survey of Ohio, which was of great advantage in the development of the mineral resources of the State. The State debt was reduced by nearly $3,000,000 and considerable reforms brought about in regard to the debt incurring powers of municipalities. In 1872, he returned to Cincinnati determined to retire from public life, and in 1873 he moved to his old home at Frémont. In 1875, however, he was nominated governor and was with difficulty induced to accept the nomination. The great issue of the campaign was the money question, which though properly a national issue, had been forced into State politics. There were those who believed and publicly contended that all that was needed to make money was the stamp of the government of the United States, that it was not necessary to have back of it any intrinsic value. Hayes, however, stood for “sound money,” and after an active campaign won the election, thus becoming governor of Ohio for the third time.

Americana 1920 Hayes Rutherford Birchard.jpg


Nineteenth President of the United States

The Republican State Convention of Ohio named him as its choice for President in the Republican National Convention. When the latter body met, at Cincinnati, 14 June 1876, his name was presented, as were the names of other prominent leaders of the party, including that of James G. Blaine, It soon became evident that none of the recognized candidates could be nominated and a “dark horse” was looked for. On the seventh ballot the opposition to Mr. Blaine gave Mr. Hayes the nomination. The Democratic party nominated Samuel J. Tilden, whose reputation as a reformer brought him the support of many dissatisfied Republicans. The result of the election was a question of long and bitter contest. The electoral votes of Louisiana, Florida and of South Carolina were in dispute and both sides charged their opponents with fraud. The canvassing boards of the States in dispute were visited by statesmen of both parties all blinded in a measure by political prejudice. The governors of the disputed States gave certificates in favor of Mr. Hayes, but other officials gave the same document in favor of Mr. Tilden. At last a commission was appointed to decide which set of papers was legal. This commission consisted of five Senators, five Representatives and five justices of the Supreme Court. When this plan was agreed to chance favored the Democrats, owing to the composition of the Supreme Court; but while the commission was being organized, Justice Davis, who was expected to be a member and to favor Mr. Tilden, was elected a Senator and so forced to resign his seat in the Supreme Court. This led to the substitution of Justice Bradley, a strong Republican, whose vote decided the question, for the commission on every question divided eight to seven. The electoral vote, as decided hy the commission was 185 for Hayes and 184 for Tilden. Mr. Hayes was publicly inaugurated 5 Uarch 1877. He at once proceeded to satisfy the Southern States by withdrawing from them the Federal troops and leaving the local government to the people in the two disputed States then under a dual government. This course, while heartily approved by the Democrats, was severely criticized by the Republicans, who thus lost the votes of the Southern States. As regards appointment to office, Mr. Hayes' general policy was to respect the views of the advocates of civil service and his appointments were in general very acceptable. Competitive exams were instituted and applications were considered irrespective of party affiliations. On 5 May 1877 President Hayes called Congress in extra session, to meet 5 Oct. 1877, to make necessary appropriations for the support of the army. In July he suppressed the railroad riots caused by a strike, on application from the governors of West Virginia, Maryland, Illinois and Pennsylvania, by sending United States troops to the points of disturbance. In his message to Congress, 3 Dec. 1877, he congratulated the country on the peaceable and prosperous condition of affairs in the Southern States; recommended the payment of government bonds in gold; favored the limited coinage of silver; insisted that the Constitution imposed on the President the sole duty and responsibility of the selection of Federal officers and recommended that Congress make a suitable appropriation for the use of the civil service commission; and recommended the passage of laws to protect the forests on lands of the United States — all of which were disregarded. He vetoed the “silver bill,” on the ground that the commercial value of the silver dollar was then less than its nominal value, and that its use in the payment of debts already contracted would be an act of bad faith; the bill was passed over his veto. In his message of 1 Dec. 1879 he congratulated the country on the return to specie payment, and urged upon Congress the suspension of silver coinage, fearing that the cheaper coin would eventually be the sole standard of value; and recommended the retirement of United Slates notes with the capacity of legal tender in private contracts. In his message of 6 Dec. 1880 he again urged civil service reform, competitive examinations for applicants for positions, for a law against political assessments, and suggested that an act be passed “defining the relations of members of Congress with regard to appointments to office by the President,” that the tenure of office act be repeated, etc. Throughout his administration his actions gave great offense to the politicians who had placed him in office, and both Houses of Congress were up in arms against a President who insisted upon putting empty campaign promises into practice. They refused to pass the necessary appropriation bills, even the one for the support of the army. When these measures were eventually carried through, attached to them were certain ‘riders’ repealing obnoxious laws. This proceeding President Hayes considered an infringement on his prerogative, so he vetoed the bills, stood firm, and, in the end, won the battle. Owing to this quarrel with the politicians his re-nomination was out of the question, and on 4 March 1881, he relinquished his office to President Garfield. At the close of his administration, Mr. Hayes returned to private life. His interest in education was shown by the work done as a member of the boards of trustees of the Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware and the Ohio State University at Columbus. Hayes' Hall at the latter institution bears his name because of his devotion to the cause of manual training. He was also president of the John F. Slater Educational Fund and gave much time to its proper distribution. As president of the National Prison Reform Association he did much to educate the public to a more humane way of thinking about the treatment of convicts, many of his public utterances have become maxims in prison management, and his work along these lines has been exceedingly valuable and permanent in its results. Consult Gladden, ‘The Great Commoner of Ohio’ (Columbus 1893); Stoddard, ‘Hayes, Garfield, and Arthur’ (New York 1889); Howard, ‘Life, Public Services, and Select Speeches of Rutherford B. Hayes’ (Cincinnati 1876); Howells, ‘Life of R. B. Hayes’ (New York 1876); Conwell, ‘Life and Public Services of Governor Hayes’ (Philadelphia 1876). Consult also Haworth, ‘The Disputed Election of 1876’ (Cleveland 1906), and Bigelow (editor), ‘Letters and Literary Memorials of Samuel J. Tilden’ (Vol. 11, New York 1908).