Rutherford B. Hayes

— 19th President of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery


March 4, 1877 to March 3, 1881

BORN: October 4, 1822
Delaware, Ohio
January 17, 1893, Fremont, Ohio
Lucy Ware Webb, 1852
Birchard; Webb; Rutherford, Jr.; Fanny; Joseph; George; Scott; Russell; Manning

Rutherford B. Hayes was born two months after his father Rutherford Hayes died. Rutherford Hayes was working in the fields when he caught a fever. Several days later, he passed away. Young Rutherford was a sickly child, and his mother was very concerned with his health. When Rutherford was only three, his brother Lorenzo was skating on a frozen pond when the ice cracked and he fell through and drowned. After that Sophia Hayes, Rutherford's mother, would not let Rutherford play outside. He and his sister Fanny had to play indoors all the time. Finally, when he turned seven, his mother agreed he had become a normal healthy boy and needed to get out and explore.

Rutherford was an outstanding student. At 14, he enrolled in Norwalk Academy, a school that could offer him an enhanced learning environment. Then in 1838, he enrolled in Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. He finished at the head of his class. Hayes delivered a fine valedictory address during the August 1842 graduation ceremony. He went on to Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.He made rules for himself to help him succeed in school; First, read no newspapers. Second, rise at seven, retire at ten. Third, study law six hours every day. In January 1845, he obtained his law degree.

He opened a law practice near his hometown. Then in 1849, he joined another law practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. His new rules for himself were "Push, Labor, Shove."Rutherford B. Hayes became a hero in the antislavery movement in Cincinnati. When the Civil War broke out, he was appointed a captain of volunteers. He had no military training, but he proved to be a good officer. He began the first of his two terms in Congress immediately after the war. He was then elected governor of Ohio. As governor, he helped get blacks the right to vote and helped found Ohio State University.

The presidentialelection of 1876 ended in a dispute between the Democrats and Samuel J. Tilden and Rutherford Hayes and the Republicans. The dispute was settled in Congress, and Rutherford Hayes won the election. However, he had to agree to remove all federal troops from the South. Hayes kept the promise, and on April 24, 1877, the last federal troops left Louisiana.

The biggest issue during his term in office was immigration. Between 1870 and 1900, more than 11 million immigrants poured into the United States from all parts of Europe and China. They crowded into cities and competed for housing and jobs with more established Americans. Factory owners took advantage of this vast increase in cheap labor to lower wages and lengthen working hours. This paved the way for strikes and the rise of labor unions. President Hayes tried to run an honest administration, but he clashed with corrupt politicians. He refused to run for a second term. He retired to Ohio where he died on January 17, 1893.

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