The Presidents of the United States, 1789-1914/Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford Birchard Hayes, nineteenth president of the United States, was born in Delaware, Ohio, October 4, 1822. His father had died in July, 1822, leaving his mother in modest but easy circumstances. The boy received his first education in the common schools, and began early the study of Latin and Greek with Judge Sherman Finch, of Delaware. Then he was sent to an academy at Norwalk, Ohio, and in 1837 to Isaac Webb's school, at Middletown, Conn., to prepare for college. In the autumn of 1838 he entered Kenyon college, at Gambier, Ohio. He excelled in logic, mental and moral philosophy, and mathematics, and also made his mark as a debater in the literary societies. On his graduation in August, 1842, he was awarded the valedictory oration, with which he won much praise. Soon afterward he began to study law in the office of Thomas Sparrow, at Columbus, Ohio, and then attended a course of law lectures at Harvard university, entering the law-school on August 22, 1843, and finishing his studies there in January, 1845. As a law student he had the advantage of friendly intercourse with Judge Story and Prof. Greenleaf, and he also attended the lectures of Longfellow on literature and of Agassiz on natural science, prosecuting at the same time the study of French and German. On May 10, 1845, after due examination, he was admitted to practice in the courts of Ohio as an attorney and counsellor at law. He established himself first at Lower Sandusky (now Fremont), where, in April, 1846, he formed a law partnership with Ralph P. Buckland, then a member of congress. In November, 1848, having suffered from bleeding in the throat, Mr. Hayes went to spend the winter in the milder climate of Texas, where his health was completely restored. Encouraged by the good opinion and advice of professional friends to seek a larger field of activity, he established himself, in the winter of 1849-'50, in Cincinnati. His practice at first being light, he earnestly and systematically continued his studies in law and literature, also enlarging the circle of his acquaintance by becoming a member of various societies, among others the literary club of Cincinnati, in the social and literary entertainments of which at that time such men as Salmon P. Chase, Thomas Ewing, Thomas Corwin, Stanley Matthews, Moncure D. Conway, Manning F. Force, and others of note were active participants. He won the respect of the profession, and attracted the attention of the public as attorney in several criminal cases which gained some celebrity, and gradually increased his practice.
On December 30, 1852, he married Miss Lucy W. Webb, daughter of Dr. James Webb, a physician of high standing in Chillicothe, Ohio. In January, 1854, he formed a law partnership with H. W. Corwine and William K. Rogers. In 1856 he was nominated for the office of common pleas judge, but declined. In 1858 the city council of Cincinnati appointed him city solicitor, to fill a vacancy caused by death, and in the following year he was elected to the same office at a popular election by a majority of over 2,500 votes. Although he performed his duties to the general satisfaction of the public, he was, in April, 1861, defeated for re-election as solicitor, together with the whole ticket. Mr. Hayes, ever since he was a voter, had acted with the Whig party, voting for Henry Clay in 1844, for Gen. Taylor in 1848, and for Gen. Scott in 1852. Having from his youth always cherished anti-slavery feelings, he joined the Republican party as soon as it was organized, and earnestly advocated the election of Frémont in 1856, and of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. At a great mass-meeting, held in Cincinnati immediately after the arrival of the news that the flag of the United States had been fired upon at Fort Sumter, he was made chairman of a committee on resolutions to give voice to the feelings of the loyal people. His literary club formed a military company, of which he was elected captain, and this club subsequently furnished to the National army more than forty officers, of whom several became generals. On June 7, 1861, the governor of Ohio appointed Mr. Hayes a major of the 23d regiment of Ohio volunteer infantry, and in July the regiment was ordered into West Virginia. On September 19, 1861, Maj. Hayes was appointed by Gen. Rosecrans judge advocate of the Department of Ohio, the duties of which office he performed for about two months. On October 24, 1861, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. On September 14, 1862, in the battle of South Mountain, he distinguished him self by gallant conduct in leading a charge, and in holding his position at the head of his men, after being severely wounded in his left arm, until he was carried from the field. His regiment lost nearly half its effective force in the action. On October 24, 1862, he was appointed colonel of the same regiment. He spent some time at his home while under medical treatment, and returned to the field as soon as his wound was healed.
Photograph by Handy, Washington, D. C.
In July, 1863, while taking part in the operations of the National army in southwestern Virginia, Col. Hayes caused an expedition of two regiments and a section of artillery, under his own command, to be despatched to Ohio for the purpose of checking the raid of the Confederate Gen. John Morgan, and he aided materially in preventing the raiders from recrossing the Ohio river and in compelling Morgan to surrender. In the spring of 1864 Col. Hayes commanded a brigade in Gen. Crook's expedition to cut the principal lines of communication between Richmond and the southwest. He again distinguished himself by conspicuous bravery at the head of his brigade in storming a fortified position on the crest of Cloyd mountain. In the first battle of Winchester, July 24, 1864, commanding a brigade in Gen. Crook's division, Col. Hayes was ordered, together with Col. James Mulligan, to charge what proved to be a greatly superior force. Col. Mulligan fell, and Col. Hayes, flanked and pressed in front by overwhelming numbers, conducted the retreat of his brigade with great intrepidity and skill, checking the pursuit as soon as he had gained a tenable position. He took a creditable part in the engagement at Berryville and in the second battle of Winchester, September 19, 1864, where he performed a feat of extraordinary bravery. Leading an assault upon a battery on an eminence, he found in his way a morass over fifty yards wide. Advancing at the head of his brigade, he plunged in first, and, his horse becoming mired at once, he dismounted and waded across alone under the enemy's fire. Waving his cap, he signalled to his men to come over, and, when about forty had joined him, he rushed upon the battery and took it after a hand-to-hand fight with the gunners, the enemy having deemed the battery so secure that no infantry supports had been placed near it. At Fisher's Hill, in pursuing Gen. Early, on September 22, 1864, Col. Hayes, then in command of a division, executed a brilliant flank movement over mountains and through woods difficult of access, took many pieces of artillery, and routed the enemy's forces in his front.
At the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864, the conduct of Col. Hayes attracted so much attention that his commander, Gen. Crook, on the battlefield took him by the hand, saying: “Colonel, from this day you will be a brigadier-general.” The commission arrived a few days afterward, and on March 13, 1865, he received the rank of brevet major-general “for gallant and distinguished services during the campaign of 1864 in West Virginia, and particularly at the battles of Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek, Va.” Of his military services Gen. Grant, in the second volume of his memoirs, says: “On more than one occasion in these engagements Gen. R. B. Hayes, who succeeded me as president of the United States, bore a very honorable part. His conduct on the field was marked by conspicuous gallantry, as well as the display of qualities of a higher order than mere personal daring. Having entered the army as a major of volunteers at the beginning of the war Gen. Hayes attained, by his meritorious service, the rank of brevet major-general before its close.” While Gen. Hayes was in the field, in August, 1864, he was nominated by a Republican district convention at Cincinnati, in the second district of Ohio, as a candidate for congress. When a friend suggested to him that he should take leave of absence from the army in the field for the purpose of canvassing the district, he answered: “Your suggestion about getting a furlough to take the stump was certainly made without reflection. An officer fit for duty, who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer for a seat in congress, ought to be scalped.” He was elected by a majority of 2,400. The Ohio soldiers in the field nominated him also for the governorship of his state.
After the war Gen. Hayes returned to civil life, and took his seat in congress on December 4, 1865. He was appointed chairman of the committee on the library. On questions connected with the reconstruction of the states lately in rebellion he voted with his party. He earnestly supported a resolution declaring the sacredness of the public debt and denouncing repudiation in any form; also a resolution commending President Johnson for declining to accept presents, and condemning the practice as demoralizing in its tendencies. He opposed a resolution favoring an increase of the pay of members. He also introduced in the Republican caucus a set of resolutions declaring that the only mode of obtaining from the states lately in rebellion irreversible guarantees was by constitutional amendment, and that an amendment basing representation upon the number of voters, instead of population, ought to be acted upon without delay. These resolutions marked the line of action of the Republicans. In August, 1866, Gen. Hayes was renominated for congress by acclamation, and, after an active canvass, was re-elected by the same majority as before. He supported the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. In the house of representatives he won the reputation, not of an orator, but of a working legislator and a man of calm, sound judgment. In June, 1867, the Republican convention of Ohio nominated him for the governorship.
The Democrats had nominated Judge Allen G. Thurman. The question of negro suffrage was boldly pushed to the foreground by Gen. Hayes in an animated canvass, which ended in his election, and that of his associates on the Republican ticket. But the negro-suffrage amendment to the state constitution was defeated at the same time by 50,000 majority, and the Democrats carried the legislature, which elected Judge Thurman to the United States senate. In his inaugural address Gov. Hayes laid especial stress upon the desirability of taxation in proportion to the actual value of property, the evils of too much legislation, the obligation to establish equal rights without regard to color, and the necessity of ratifying the 14th amendment to the federal constitution. In his message to the legislature, delivered in November, 1868, he recommended amendments to the election laws, providing for the representation of minorities in the boards of the judges and clerks of election, and for the registration of all the lawful voters prior to an election. He also recommended a comprehensive geological survey of the state, which was promptly begun. In his second annual message he warmly urged such changes in the penal laws, as well as in prison discipline, as would tend to promote the moral reformation of the culprit together with the punishment due to his crime.
In June, 1869, Gov. Hayes was again nominated by the Republican state convention for the governorship, there being no competitor for the nomination. The Democratic candidate was George H. Pendleton. The platform adopted by the Democratic state convention advocated the repudiation of the interest on the U. S. bonds unless they be subjected to taxation, and the payment of the national debt in greenbacks. In the discussion preceding the election, Gov. Hayes pronounced himself unequivocally in favor of honestly paying the national debt and of an honest money system. He was elected by a majority of 7,500. In his second inaugural address, delivered on January 10, 1870, he expressed himself earnestly against the use of public offices as party spoils, and suggested that the constitution of the state be so amended as to secure the introduction of a system making qualification, and not political services and influence, the chief test in determining appointments, and giving subordinates in the civil service the same permanence of place that is enjoyed by officers of the army and navy. He also advocated the appointment of judges, by the executive, for long terms, with adequate salaries, as best calculated to “afford to the citizen the amplest possible security that impartial justice will be administered by an independent judiciary.” In his correspondence with members of congress, he urged a monthly reduction of the national debt as more important than a reduction of taxation, the abolition of the franking privilege, and the passage of a civil-service-reform law.
In his message addressed to the legislature on January 3, 1871, he recommended that the policy embodied in that provision of the state constitution which prohibited the state from creating any debt, save in a few exceptional cases, be extended to the creation of public debts by county, city, and other local authorities, and further that for the remuneration of public officers a system of fixed salaries, without fees and perquisites, be adopted. Complaint having been made by the state commissioner of railroads and telegraphs that many “clear and palpable violations of law” had been committed by railroad companies, Gov. Hayes asked, in his message of 1872, that a commission of five citizens be organized, with ample power to investigate the management of railroad companies, and to report the information acquired with a recommendation of such measures as they might deem expedient. He also, believing that “publicity is a great corrector of official abuses,” recommended that it be made the duty of the governor, on satisfactory information that the public good required an investigation of the affairs of any public office or the conduct of any public officer, whether state or local, to appoint one or more citizens, who should have ample powers to make such investigation. Gov. Hayes's administration of the executive office of his state won general approval, without distinction of party. At the expiration of his term, when a senator of the United States was to be elected, and several Republican members of the legislature were disinclined to vote for John Sherman, who controlled a majority of the Republican votes, Gov. Hayes was approached with the assurance that he could be elected senator by the anti-Sherman Republicans with the aid of the Democrats in the legislature; but he positively declined.
In July, 1872, Gov. Hayes was strongly urged by many Republicans in Cincinnati to accept a nomination for congress. Wishing to retire permanently from political life, he declined; but when he was nominated, in spite of his protests, he finally yielded his consent. In his speeches during the canvass he put forward as the principal issues an honest financial policy and civil-service reform. Several sentences on civil-service reform that he pronounced in a speech at Glendale, on September 4, 1872, were to appear again in his letter accepting the nomination for the presidency four years later. In 1872 the current of public sentiment in Cincinnati ran against the Republican party, and Gov. Hayes was defeated in the election by a majority of 1,500. President Grant offered him the office of assistant treasurer of the United States at Cincinnati, which he declined. In 1873 he established his home at Fremont, in the northern part of Ohio, with the firm intention of final retirement from public life. In 1874 he came into possession of a considerable estate as the heir of his uncle, Sardis Birchard. In 1875 the Republican state convention again nominated him for the governorship. He had not only had not desired that nomination, but, whenever spoken or written to about it, uniformly replied that his retirement was absolute, and that neither his interests nor his tastes permitted him to accept. But the circumstances were such as to overcome his reluctance. In 1873 the Democratic candidate, William Allen, was elected governor of Ohio. His administration was honest and economical, he was personally popular, and his renomination by the Democratic party in 1875 seemed to be a foregone conclusion. It was equally certain that the Democratic convention would declare itself in favor of a circulation of irredeemable paper money, and against the resumption of specie payments. Under such circumstances the Republicans felt themselves compelled to put into the field against him the strongest available candidate they had, and a large majority of them turned at once to Gov. Hayes. But he had expressed himself in favor of Judge Taft, of Cincinnati, and urged the delegates from his county to vote for that gentleman, which they did. Notwithstanding this, the convention nominated Hayes on the first ballot by an overwhelming majority.
SPIEGEL GROVE, FREMONT, OHIO, THE HOME OF RUTHERFORD B. HAYES.
When he, at Fremont, received the telegraphic announcement of his nomination, he at once wrote a letter declining the honor; but upon the further information that Judge Taft's son, withdrawing the name of his father, had moved in the convention to make the nomination unanimous, he accepted. Thus he became the leader of the advocates of a sound and stable currency in that memorable state canvass, the public discussions in which did so much to mould the sentiments of the people, especially in the western states, with regard to that important subject. The Democratic convention adopted a platform declaring that the volume of the currency (meaning the irredeemable paper currency of the United States) should be made and kept equal to the wants of trade; that the national bank currency should be retired, and greenbacks issued in its stead; and that at least half of the customs duties should be made payable in the government paper money. The Republicans were by no means as united in favor of honest money as might have been desired, and Gov. Hayes was appealed to by many of his party friends not to oppose an increase of the paper currency; but he resolutely declared his opinions in favor of honest money in a series of speeches, appealing to the honor and sober judgment of the people with that warmth of patriotic feeling and that good sense in the statement of political issues which, uttered in language always temperate and kindly, gave him the ear of opponents as well as friends. The canvass, on account of the national questions involved in it, attracted attention in all parts of the country, and Gov. Hayes was well supported by speakers from other states. Another subject had been thrust upon the people of Ohio by a legislative attempt to divide the school fund between Catholics and Protestants, and Hayes vigorously advocated the cause of secular education. After a spirited struggle he carried the election by a majority of 5,500. He had thus not only won the distinction of being elected three times governor of his state, but, as the successful leader in a campaign for an honest money system, he was advanced to a very prominent position among the public men of the country, and his name appeared at once among those of possible candidates for the presidency.
While thus spoken of and written to, he earnestly insisted upon the maintenance by his party of an uncompromising position concerning the money question. To James A. Garfield he wrote in March, 1876: “The principal question will again be irredeemable paper as a permanent policy, or a policy which seeks a return to coin. My opinion is decidedly against yielding a hair's-breadth.” On March 29, 1876, the Republican state convention of Ohio passed a resolution to present Rutherford B. Hayes to the National Republican convention for the nomination for president, and instructing the state delegation to support him. The National Republican convention met at Cincinnati on June 14, 1876. The principal candidates before it were James G. Blaine, Oliver P. Morton, Benjamin H. Bristow, Roscoe Conkling, Gov. Hayes, and John F. Hartranft. The name of Hayes was presented to the convention by Gen. Noyes in an exceedingly judicious and well-tempered speech, dwelling not only upon his high personal character, but upon the fact that he had no enemies and possessed peculiarly the qualities “calculated best to compromise all difficulties and to soften all antagonisms.” Hayes had sixty-one votes on the first ballot, 378 being necessary to a choice, and his support slowly but steadily grew until on the seventh ballot the opposition to Mr. Blaine, who had been the leading candidate, concentrated upon Hayes, and give him the nomination, which, on motion of William P. Frye, of Maine, was made unanimous.
In his letter of acceptance, dated July 8, 1876, Mr. Hayes laid especial stress upon three points, civil-service reform, the currency, and the pacification of the south. As to the civil service, he denounced the use of public offices for the purpose of rewarding party services, and especially for services rendered to party leaders, as destroying the independence of the separate departments of the government, as leading directly to extravagance and official incapacity, and as a temptation to dishonesty. He declared that a reform, “thorough, radical, and complete,” should lead us back to the principles and practices of the founders of the government, who “neither expected nor desired from the public officer any partisan service,” who meant “that public officers should owe their whole service to the government and to the people,” and that “the officer should be secure in his tenure so long as his personal character remained untarnished, and the performance of his duties satisfactory.” As to the currency, he regarded “all the laws of the United States relating to the payment of the public indebtedness, the legal-tender notes included, as constituting a pledge and moral obligation of the government, which must in good faith be kept.” He therefore insisted upon as early as possible a resumption of specie payments, pledging himself to “approve every appropriate measure to accomplish the desired end,” and to “oppose any step backward.” As to the pacification of the south, he pointed out, as the first necessity, “an intelligent and honest administration of the government, which will protect all classes of citizens in all their political and private rights.” He deprecated “a division of political parties resting merely upon distinctions of race, or upon sectional lines,” as always unfortunate and apt to become disastrous. He expressed the hope that, with “a hearty and generous recognition of the rights of all by all,” it would be “practicable to promote, by the influence of all legitimate agencies of the general government, the efforts of the people of those states to obtain for themselves the blessings of honest and capable local government.” He also declared his “inflexible purpose,” if elected, not to be a candidate for election to a second term — a pledge which he never thought of breaking.
The Democrats nominated for the presidency Samuel J. Tilden, who, having, as governor of New York, won the reputation of a reformer, attracted the support of many Republicans who were dissatisfied with their party. The result of the election became the subject of acrimonious dispute. Both parties claimed to have carried the states of Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida. Each charged fraud upon the other, the Republicans affirming that Republican voters, especially colored men, all over the south had been deprived of their rights by intimidation or actual force, and that ballot-boxes had been foully dealt with, and the Democrats insisting that their candidates in Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina had received a majority of the votes actually cast, and that the Republican canvassing boards were preparing to falsify the result in making up the returns. The friends of both the candidates for the presidency sent prominent men into the states in dispute, for the purpose of watching the proceedings of the canvassing boards. The attitude maintained by Mr. Hayes personally was illustrated by a letter addressed to John Sherman at New Orleans, which was brought to light by a subsequent congressional investigation. It was dated at Columbus, Ohio, November 27, 1876, and said: “I am greatly obliged for your letter of the 23d. You feel, I am sure, as I do about this whole business. A fair election would have given us about forty electoral votes at the south — at least that many. But we are not to allow our friends to defeat one outrage and fraud by another. There must be nothing crooked on our part. Let Mr. Tilden have the place by violence, intimidation, and fraud, rather than undertake to prevent it by means that will not bear the closest scrutiny.”
The canvassing boards of the states in question declared the Republican electors chosen, which gave Mr. Hayes a majority of one vote in the electoral college, and certifications of these results were sent to Washington by the governors of the states. But the Democrats persisted in charging fraud; and other sets of certificates, certifying the Democratic electors to have been elected, arrived at Washington. To avoid a deadlock, which might have happened if the canvass of the electoral votes had been left to the two houses of congress (the senate having a Republican and the house of representatives a Democratic majority), an act, advocated by members of both parties, was passed to refer all contested cases to a commission composed of five senators, five representatives, and five judges of the supreme court; the decision of this commission to be final, unless set aside by a concurrent vote of the two houses of congress. The commission, refusing to go behind the certified returns, decided in each contested case by a vote of eight to seven in favor of the Republican electors, beginning with Florida on February 7, and Rutherford B. Hayes was at last, on March 2, declared duly elected president of the United States. Thus ended the long and painful suspense. The decision was generally acquiesced in, and the popular excitement subsided quickly.
President Hayes was inaugurated on March 5, 1877. In his inaugural address he substantially restated the principles and views of policy set forth in his letter of acceptance, adding that, while the president of necessity owes his election to the suffrage and zealous labors of a party, he should be always mindful that “he serves his party best who serves his country best,” and declaring also, referring to the contested election, that the general acceptance of the settlement by the two great parties of a dispute, “in regard to which good men differ as to the facts and the law, no less than as to the proper course to be pursued in solving the question in controversy,” was an "occasion for general rejoicing." The cabinet that he appointed consisted of William M. Evarts, secretary of state; John Sherman, secretary of the treasury; George W. McCrary, secretary of war; Richard W. Thompson, secretary of the navy; David M. Key, postmaster-general; Charles Devens, attorney-general; and Carl Schurz, secretary of the interior. The administration began under very unfavorable circumstances, as general business stagnation and severe distress had prevailed throughout the country since the crisis of 1873. As soon as the cabinet was organized, the new president addressed himself to the composition of difficulties in several southern states. He had given evidence of his conciliatory disposition by taking into his cabinet a prominent citizen of the south who had been an officer in the Confederate army and had actively opposed his election. In both South Carolina and Louisiana there were two sets of state officers and two legislatures, one Republican and the other Democratic, each claiming to have been elected by a majority of the popular vote. The presence of Federal troops at or near the respective statehouses had so far told in favor of the Republican claimants, while the Democratic claimants had the preponderance of support from the citizens of sub stance and influence. President Hayes was resolved that the upholding of local governments in the southern states by the armed forces of the United States must come to an end, and that, therefore, the Federal troops should be withdrawn from the positions they then occupied; but he was at the same time anxious to have the change effected with out any disturbance of the peace, and without imperilling the security or rights of any class of citizens.
His plan was to put an end by conciliatory measures to the lawless commotions and distracting excitements which, ever since the close of the war, had kept a large part of the south in constant turmoil, and thus to open to that section a new career of peace and prosperity. He obtained from the southern leaders in congress assurances that they would use their whole influence for the maintenance of good order and the protection of the rights and security of all, and for a union of the people in a mutual understanding that, as to their former antagonisms, by-gones should be treated as by-gones. To the same end he invited the rival governors of South Carolina, Daniel H. Chamberlain and Wade Hampton, to meet him in conference at Washington; and he appointed a commission composed of eminent gentlemen, Democrats as well as Republicans — Gen. Joseph R. Hawley, of Connecticut; Charles B. Lawrence, of Illinois; John M. Harlan, of Kentucky; Ex-Gov. John C. Brown, of Tennessee; and Wayne MacVeagh, of Pennsylvania — to go to Louisiana and there to ascertain what were “the real impediments to regular, loyal, and peaceful procedures under the laws and constitution of Louisiana,” and, further, by conciliatory influences to endeavor to remove “the obstacles to an acknowledgment of one government within the state,” or, if that were found impracticable, at least “to accomplish the recognition of a single legislature as the depositary of the representative will of the people of Louisiana.” The two rival governors — S. B. Packard, Republican, and Francis T. Nichols, Democrat — stoutly maintained their respective claims; but the two legislatures united into one, a majority of the members of both houses, whose election was conceded on both sides, meeting and organizing under the auspices of the Nichols government. President Hayes, having received the necessary assurances of peace and good will, issued instructions to withdraw the troops of the United States from the state-house of South Carolina on April 10, 1877, and from the state-house of Louisiana on April 20, 1877, whereupon in South Carolina the state government passed peaceably into the hands of Wade Hampton, and in Louisiana into those of Francis T. Nichols. The course thus pursued by President Hayes was, in the north as well as in the south, heartily approved by a large majority of the people, to whom the many scandals springing from the interference of the general government in the internal affairs of the southern states had become very obnoxious, and who desired the southern states to be permitted to work out their own salvation. But this policy was also calculated to loosen the hold that the Republican party had upon the southern states, and was therefore disliked by many Republican politicians.
President Hayes began his administration with earnest efforts for the reform of the civil service. In some of the departments competitive examinations were resumed for the appointment of clerks. In filling other offices, political influence found much less regard than had been the custom before. The pretension of senators and representatives that the “patronage” in their respective states and districts belonged to them was not recognized, although in many cases their advice was taken. The president's appointments were generally approved by public opinion, but he was blamed for appointing persons connected with the Louisiana returning-board. On May 26, 1877, he addressed a letter to the secretary of the treasury, expressing the wish “that the collection of the revenues should be free from partisan control, and organized on a strictly business basis, with the same guarantees for efficiency and fidelity in the selection of the chief and subordinate officers that would be required by a prudent merchant,” and that “party leaders should have no more influence in appointments than other equally respectable citizens.” On June 22, 1877, he issued the following executive order: “No officer should be required or permitted to take part in the management of political organizations, caucuses, conventions, or election campaigns. Their right to vote or to express their views on public questions, either orally or through the press, is not denied, provided it does not interfere with the discharge of their official duties. No assessment for political purposes, on officers or subordinates, should be allowed. This rule is applicable to every department of the civil service. It should be understood by every officer of the general government that he is expected to conform his conduct to its requirements.” The policy thus indicated found much favor with the people generally, and not a few men in public life heartily approved of it. But the bulk of the professional politicians, who saw themselves threatened in their livelihood, and many members of congress, who looked upon government patronage as a part of their perquisites, and the distribution of offices among their adherents as the means by which to hold the party together and to maintain themselves in public place, became seriously alarmed and began a systematic warfare upon the president and his cabinet.
The administration was from the beginning surrounded with a variety of perplexities. Congress had adjourned on March 3, 1877, without making the necessary appropriations for the support of the army, so that from June 30 the army would remain without pay until new provision could be made. The president, therefore, on May 5, 1877, called an extra session of congress to meet on October 15. But in the meantime a part of the army was needed for active service of a peculiarly trying kind. In July strikes broke out among the men employed upon railroads, beginning on the line of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and then rapidly spreading over a large part of the northern states. It is estimated that at one time more than 100,000 men were out. Grave disorders occurred, and the president found himself appealed to by the governors of West Virginia, of Maryland, and of Pennsylvania to aid them with the Federal power in suppressing domestic violence, which the authorities of their respective states were not able to master. He issued his proclamation on July 18, 21 and 23, and sent into the above-mentioned states such detachments of the Federal army as were available. Other detachments were ordered to Chicago. Wherever the troops of the United States appeared, however small the force, they succeeded in restoring order without bloodshed — in fact, without meeting with any resistance, while the state militia in many instances had bloody encounters with the rioters, sometimes with doubtful result.
In his first annual message, Dec. 3, 1877, President Hayes congratulated the country upon the results of the policy he had followed with regard to the South. He said: “All apprehension of danger from remitting those states to local self-government is dispelled, and a most salutary change in the minds of the people has begun and is in progress in every part of that section of the country once the theater of unhappy civil strife; substituting for suspicion, distrust, and aversion, concord, friendship, and patriotic attachment to the Union. No unprejudiced mind will deny that the terrible and often fatal collisions which for several years have been of frequent occurrence, and have agitated and alarmed the public mind, have almost entirely ceased, and that a spirit of mutual forbearance and hearty national interest has succeeded. There has been a general re-establishment of order, and of the orderly administration of justice; instances of remaining lawlessness have become of rare occurrence; political turmoil and turbulence have disappeared; useful industries have been resumed; public credit in the southern states has been greatly strengthened and the encouraging benefit of a revival of commerce between the sections of country lately embroiled in civil war are fully enjoyed.”
He also strongly urged the resumption of specie payments. As to the difficulties to be met in this respect he said: “I must adhere to my most earnest conviction that any wavering in purpose or unsteadiness in methods, so far from avoiding or reducing the inconvenience inseparable from the transition from an irredeemable to a redeemable paper currency, would only tend to increased and prolonged disturbance in values, and, unless retrieved, must end in serious disorder, dishonor, and disaster in the financial affairs of the government and of the people.” As to the restoration of silver as a legal tender, which was at the time being agitated, he insisted that “all the bonds issued since February 12, 1873, when gold became the only unlimited legal-tender metallic currency of the country, are justly payable in gold coin, or in coin of equal value”; and that “the bonds issued prior to 1873 were issued at a time when the gold dollar was the only coin in circulation or contemplated by either the government or the holders of the bonds as the coin in which they were to be paid.” He added: “It is far better to pay these bonds in that coin than to seem to take advantage of the unforeseen fall in silver bullion to pay in a new issue of silver coin thus made so much less valuable. The power of the United States to coin money and to regulate the value thereof ought never to be exercised for the purpose of enabling the government to pay its obligations in a coin of less value than that contemplated by the parties when the bonds were issued.”
The President favored the coinage of silver, but only in a limited quantity, as a legal tender to a limited amount. He expressed the fear “that only mischief and misfortune would flow from a coinage of silver dollars with the quality of unlimited legal tender, even in private transactions. Any expectation of temporary ease from an issue of silver coinage to pass as a legal tender, at a rate materially above its commercial value, is, I am persuaded, a delusion.” As to the reform of the civil service he reiterated what he had said in his letter of acceptance and inaugural address, and insisted that the constitution imposed upon the executive the sole duty and responsibility of the selection of Federal officers who, by law, are appointed, not elected; he deprecated the practical confusion, in this respect, of the duties assigned to the several departments of the government, and earnestly recommended that Congress make a suitable appropriation to be immediately available for the civil-service commission, which was still in legal existence, but had become inactive because no money had been provided for its expenses. He also recommended efficient legislation for the work of civilization among the Indian tribes, and for the prevention of the destruction of the forests on lands of the United States.
The recommendations thus made by President Hayes were not heeded by congress. No appropriation was made for the civil-service commission; on the contrary, the dissatisfaction of Republican senators and representatives with the endeavors of the administration in the direction of civil-service reform found vent in various attacks upon the president and the heads of departments. The nomination of one of the foremost citizens of New York for the office of collector of customs at that port was rejected by the senate. The efforts of the administration to check depredations on the timber-lands of the United States, and to prevent the destruction of the forests, were denounced as an outlandish policy. Instead of facilitating the resumption of specie payments, the house of representatives passed a bill substantially repealing the resumption act. A resolution was offered by a Republican senator, and adopted by the senate, declaring that to restore the coinage of 412½-grain silver dollars and to pay the government bonds, principal and interest, in such silver coin, was “not in violation of the public faith, nor in derogation of the rights of the public creditor.” A “silver bill” passed both houses providing that a silver dollar should be coined at the several mints of the United States, of the weight of 412½ grains, which, together with all silver dollars of like weight and fineness coined theretofore by the United States, should be a full legal tender for all debts and dues, public and private, except where otherwise expressly stipulated in the contract, and directing the secretary of the treasury to buy not less than two million dollars worth of silver bullion a month, and cause it to be coined into dollars as fast as purchased. President Hayes returned this bill with his veto, mainly on the ground that the commercial value of the silver dollar was then worth eight to ten per cent, less than its nominal value, and that its use as a legal tender for the payment of preëxisting debts would be an act of bad faith. He said: “As to all debts heretofore contracted, the silver dollar should be made a legal tender only at its market value. The standard of value should not be changed without the consent of both parties to the contract. National promises should be kept with unflinching fidelity. There is no power to compel a nation to pay its just debts. Its credit depends on its honor. A nation owes what it has led or allowed its creditors to expect. I cannot approve a bill which in my judgment authorizes the violation of sacred obligations.”
But the bill was passed over the veto in both houses by majorities exceeding two-thirds. During the same session the house of representatives, which had a Democratic majority, on motion of Clarkson N. Potter, of New York, resolved to make an inquiry into the allegations of fraud said to have been committed in Louisiana and Florida in making the returns of the votes cast for presidential electors at the election of 1876. The Republicans charged that the investigation was set on foot for the purpose of ousting Mr. Hayes from the presidency and putting in Mr. Tilden. The Democrats disclaimed any such intention. The result of the investigation was an elaborate report from the Democratic majority of the committee, impugning the action of the returning boards in Louisiana and Florida as fraudulent, and a report from the Republican minority dissenting from the conclusions of the majority as unwarranted by the evidence, and alleging that the famous “cipher despatches” sent to the south by friends of Mr. Tilden showed “that the charges of corruption were but the slanders of foiled suborners of corruption.” The investigation led to no further action, the people acquiescing in the decision of the electoral commission, and the counting of the electoral vote by congress based thereon, as irreversible.
President Hayes was again obliged to resort to the employment of force by the outbreak of serious disturbances caused by bands of desperadoes in the territory of New Mexico, which amounted to organized resistance to the enforcement of the laws. He issued on October 7, 1878, a proclamation substantially putting the disturbed portion of New Mexico under martial law, and directing the U. S. forces stationed there to restore and maintain peace and order, which was speedily accomplished.
In his message of December 2, 1878, President Hayes found himself obliged to say that in Louisiana and South Carolina, and in some districts outside of those states, “the records of the recent [congressional] elections compelled the conclusion that the rights of the colored voters had been overridden, and their participation in the elections not been permitted to be either general or free.” He added that, while it would be for congress to examine into the validity of the claims of members to their seats, it became the duty of the executive and judicial departments of the government to inquire into and punish violations of the law, and that every means in his power would be exerted to that end. At the same time he expressed his “absolute assurance that, while the country had not yet reached complete unity of feeling and confidence between the communities so lately and so seriously estranged, the tendencies were in that direction, and with increasing force.” He deprecated all interference by congress with existing financial legislation, with the confident expectation that the resumption of specie payments would be “successfully and easily maintained,” and would be “followed by a healthful and enduring revival of business prosperity.” On January 1, 1879, the resumption act went into operation without any difficulty. No preparation had been made for that event until the beginning of the Hayes administration. The secretary of the treasury, in 1877, began to accumulate coin, and, notwithstanding the opposition it found, even among Republicans, this policy was firmly pursued by the administration until the coin reserve held against the legal-tender notes was sufficient to meet all probable demands. Thus the country was lifted out of the bog of an irredeemable paper currency. The operation was facilitated by increased exports and a general revival of business.
Although his first nominee for the office of collector of customs in New York had been rejected by the senate, President Hayes made a second nomination for the same place, as well as for that of naval officer of the same port, and in a special message addressed to the senate on January 31, 1879, he gave the following reasons for the suspension of the incumbents, Chester A. Arthur and Alonzo B. Cornell, who had failed to conform their conduct to the executive order of June 22, 1877: “For a long period of time it [the New York custom-house] has been used to manage and control political affairs. The officers suspended by me are, and for several years have been, engaged in the active personal management of the party politics of the city and state of New York. The duties of the offices held by them have been regarded as of subordinate importance to their partisan work. Their offices have been conducted as part of the political machinery under their control. They have made the custom-house a center of partisan political management.” For like reasons, President Hayes removed an influential party manager in the west, the postmaster of St. Louis. With the aid of Democratic votes in the senate, the new nominations were confirmed. President Hayes then addressed a letter to the new collector of customs at New York, Gen. Edwin A. Merritt, instructing him to conduct his office “on strictly business principles, and according to the rules which were adopted, on the recommendation of the civil-service commission, by the administration of Gen. Grant.” He added: “Neither my recommendation, nor that of the secretary of the treasury, nor the recommendation of any member of congress, or other influential person, should be specially regarded. Let appointments and removals be made on business principles, and by fixed rules.” Thus the system of competitive examinations, which under the preceding administration had been abandoned upon the failure of congress to make appropriations for the civil-service commission, was, by direction of President Hayes, restored in the custom-house of New York. A like system was introduced in the New York post-office under the postmaster, Thomas L. James.
Congress passed a bill “to restrict the immigration of Chinese to the United States,” requiring the president immediately to give notice to the government of China of the abrogation of certain articles of the treaty of 1858 between the United States and China, which recognized “the inherent and inalienable right of a man to change his home and allegiance,” and provided that “the citizens of the United States visiting or residing in China shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities, or exemptions, in respect to travel or residence, as may there be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation,” and reciprocally that Chinese subjects should enjoy the same advantages in the United States. The bill further limited the number of Chinese passengers that might be brought to this country by any one vessel to fifteen. President Hayes, on March 1, 1879, returned the bill to congress with his veto. While recognizing some of the difficulties created by the immigration of the Chinese as worthy of consideration, he objected to the bill mainly on the ground that it was inconsistent with existing treaty relations between the United States and China; that a treaty could be abrogated or modified by the treaty-making power, and not, under the constitution, by act of congress; and that “the abrogation of a treaty by one of the contracting parties is justifiable only upon reasons both of the highest justice and of the highest necessity”; and “to do this without notice, without fixing a day in advance when the act shall take effect, without affording an opportunity to China to be heard, and without the happening of any grave unforeseen emergency, would be regarded by the enlightened judgment of mankind as the denial of the obligation of the national faith.”
The 45th congress adjourned on March 4, 1879, without making the usual and necessary appropriations for the expenses of the government. The house, controlled by a Democratic majority, attached to the army appropriation bill a legislative provision substantially repealing a law passed in 1865, under President Lincoln, which permitted the use of troops “to keep peace at the polls” on election-days. The house also attached to the legislative, executive, and judicial appropriation bill a repeal of existing laws providing for the appointment of supervisors of election and special deputy marshals to act at elections of members of congress. The Republican majority of the senate struck out these legislative provisions, and, the two houses disagreeing, the appropriation bills failed. President Hayes, on March 4, 1879, called an extra session of congress to meet on March 18. The Democrats then had a majority in the senate as well as the house, and attached to the army appropriation bill the same legislative provision on which in the preceding congress the two houses had disagreed. President Hayes returned the bill with his veto on April 29, 1879. He took the ground that there was ample legislation to prevent military interference at elections; that there never had been any such interference since the passage of the act of 1865, and there was no danger of any; that, if the proposed legislation should become law, there would be no power vested in any officer of the government to protect from violence the officers of the United States engaged in the discharge of their duties; that the states may employ both military and civil power to keep the peace, and to enforce the laws at state elections, but that it was now proposed to deny to the United States even the necessary civil authority to protect the national elections. He pointed out also that the tacking of legislative provisions to appropriation bills was a practice calculated to be used as a means of coercion as to the other branches of the government, and to make the house of representatives a despotic power.
Congress then passed the army appropriation bill without the obnoxious clause, but containing the provision that no money appropriated should be paid for the subsistence, equipment, transportation, or compensation of any portion of the army of the United States “to be used as a police force to keep the peace at the polls at any election held within any state.” This President Hayes approved. The two houses then passed a separate bill, substantially embodying the provision objected to by the president in the vetoed army-appropriation bill. This “act to prohibit military interference at elections” President Hayes returned with his veto. He said: “The true rule as to the employment of military force at the elections is not doubtful. No intimidation or coercion should be allowed to influence citizens in the exercise of their right to vote, whether it appears in the shape of combinations of evil-disposed persons, or of armed bodies of the militia of a state, or of the military force of the United States. The elections should be free from all forcible interference, and, as far as practicable, from all apprehension of such interference. No soldiery, either of the United States or of the state militia, should be present at the polls to perform the duties of the ordinary civil police force. There has been and will be no violation of this rule under orders from me during this administration. But there should be no denial of the right of the national government to employ its military force on any day and at any place in case such employment is necessary to enforce the constitution and laws of the United States.” The legislative, executive, and judicial appropriation bill passed by congress contained a legislative provision not, indeed, abolishing the supervisors of election, but divesting the government of the power to protect them, or to prevent interference with their duties, or to punish any violation of the law from which their power was derived. President Hayes returned this bill also with his veto, referring to his preceding veto message as to the impropriety of tacking general legislation to appropriation bills. He further pointed out that, in the various legal proceedings under the law sought to be repealed, its constitutionality had never been questioned; and that the necessity of such a law had been amply demonstrated by the great election frauds in New York city in 1868. He added: “The great body of the people of all parties want free and fair elections. They do not think that a free election means freedom from the wholesome restraints of law, or that the place of an election should be sanctuary for lawlessness and crime.” If any oppression, any partisan partiality, had been shown in the execution of the existing law, he added, efficient correctives of the mischief should be applied; but as no congressional election was immediately impending, the matter might properly be referred to the regular session of congress.
In a bill “making appropriations for certain judicial expenses,” passed by congress, it was attempted, not indeed to repeal the election laws, but to make their enforcement impossible by prohibiting the payment of any salaries, fees or expenses under or in virtue of them, and providing also that no contract should be made, and no liability incurred, under any of their provisions. President Hayes vetoed this bill, June 23, 1879, on the ground that, as no bill repealing the election laws had been passed over his veto, those laws were still in existence, and the present bill, if it became a law, would make it impossible for the executive to perform his constitutional duty to see to it that the laws be faithfully executed. On the same ground the president returned with his veto a bill making appropriations to pay fees of United States marshals and their general deputies, in which the same attempt was made to defeat the execution of the election laws by withholding the necessary funds as well as the power to incur liabilities under them. All the appropriation bills were passed without the obnoxious provision except the last. President Hayes appealed to congress in a special message on June 30, 1879, the end of the fiscal year, not to permit the marshals and their general deputies, officers so necessary to the administration of justice, to go unprovided for, but in vain. The attorney-general then admonished the marshals to continue in the performance of their duties, and to rely upon future legislation by congress, which would be just to them.
In his annual message of December 1, 1879, President Hayes found occasion to congratulate the country upon the successful resumption of specie payments and upon “a very great revival of business.” He announced a most gratifying reduction of the interest on the public debt by refunding at lower rates. He strongly urged congress to authorize the secretary of the treasury to suspend the silver coinage, as the cheaper coin, if forced into circulation, would eventually become the sole standard of value. He also recommended the retirement of United States notes with the capacity of legal tender in private contracts, it being his “firm conviction that the issue of legal-tender paper money based wholly upon the authority and credit of the government, except in extreme emergency, is without warrant in the constitution, and a violation of sound financial principles.” He recommended a vigorous enforcement of the laws against polygamy in the territory of Utah. He presented a strong argument in favor of civil-service reform, pointed out the successful trial of the competitive system in the interior department, the post-office department, and the post-office and custom-house in New York, and once more earnestly urged that an appropriation be made for the civil-service commission, and that all persons in the public service be protected by law against assessments for party ends. But these recommendations remained without effect.
On February 12, 1880, President Hayes issued a second proclamation — the first having been put forth in April, 1879 — against the attempts made by lawless persons to possess themselves for settlement of lands within the Indian territory and effective measures were taken to expel the invaders. On March 8, 1880, he sent to the house of representatives a special message communicating correspondence in relation to the interoceanic canal, which had passed between the American and foreign governments, and expressing his own opinion on the subject as follows: “The policy of this country is a canal under American control. The United States cannot consent to the surrender of this control to any European power, or to any combination of European powers. If existing treaties between the United States and other nations, or if the rights of sovereignty or property of other nations, stand in the way of this policy — a contingency which is not apprehended — suitable steps should be taken by just and liberal negotiations to promote and establish the American policy on this subject, consistently with the rights of the nations to be affected by it. An interoceanic canal across the American isthmus will be the great ocean thoroughfare between our Atlantic and our Pacific shores, and virtually a part of the coast-line of the United States. No other great power would, under similar circumstances, fail to assert a rightful control over a work so closely and vitally affecting its interest and welfare.” Congress passed a deficiency appropriation bill, which contained pro visions materially changing, and, by implication, repealing, certain important parts of the election laws. President Hayes, on May 4, 1880, returned the bill with his veto, whereupon congress made the appropriation without re-enacting the obnoxious clauses.
In November, 1880, was held the election that put James A. Garfield into the presidential chair and proved conclusively that the Republican party had gained largely in the confidence of the public during the Hayes administration. In his last annual message, December 6, 1880, President Hayes again mentioned the occurrence of election disorders in a part of the Union, and the necessity of their repression and correction, but declared himself satisfied, at the same time, that the evil was diminishing. Again he argued in favor of civil-service reform, especially competitive examinations, which had been conducted with great success in some of the executive departments and adopted by his direction in the larger custom-houses and post-offices. He reiterated his recommendation of an appropriation for the civil-service commission, and of a law against political assessments. He also, to stop the interference of members of congress with the civil service, suggested that an act be passed “defining the relations of members of congress with regard to appointments to office by the president,” and that the tenure-of-office act be repealed. He recommended “that congress provide for the government of Utah by a governor and judges, or commissioners, appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate — a government analogous to the provisional government established for the territory northwest of the Ohio, by the ordinance of 1787,” dispensing with an elected territorial legislature.
The president announced that on November 17 two treaties had been signed at Peking by the commissioners of the United States and the plenipotentiaries of the emperor of China — one purely commercial, and the other authorizing the government of the United States, when ever the immigration of Chinese laborers threatened to affect the interests of the country, to regulate, limit, or suspend such immigration, but not altogether to prohibit it, said government at the same time promising to secure to Chinese permanently or temporarily residing in the United States the same protection and rights as to citizens or subjects of the most favored nation. President Hayes further suggested the importance of making provision for regular steam postal communication with the Central and South American states; he recommended that congress, by suitable legislation and with proper safeguards, supplement the local educational funds in the several states where the grave duties and responsibilities of citizenship had been devolved upon uneducated people, by devoting to the purpose grants of lands, and, if necessary, by appropriations from the treasury of the United States; he repeated his recommendations as to the suspension of the silver coinage, and as to the retirement from the circulation of the United States notes, and added one that provision be made by law to put Gen. Grant upon the retired list of the army, with rank and pay befitting the great services he had rendered to the country.
On February 1, 1880, he addressd a special message to congress in relation to the Ponca Indians, in which he pointed out the principles that should guide our Indian policy: preparation for citizenship by industrial and general education; allotment of land in severalty, inalienable for a certain period; fair compensation for Indian lands not required for allotment; and, finally, investment of the Indians, so educated and provided for, with the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. His last communication to congress, March 3, 1881, was a message returning with his veto a bill “to facilitate the refunding of the national debt,” which contained a provision seriously impairing the value and tending to the destruction of the national banking system. On the following day he assisted at the inauguration of his successor.
[ Fac-simile letter from Rutherford B. Hayes to James Grant Wilson ]
The administration of President Hayes, although much attacked by the politicians of both parties, was on the whole very satisfactory to the people at large. By withdrawing the Federal troops from the southern state-houses, and restoring to the people of those states practical self-government, it prepared the way for that revival of patriotism among those lately estranged from the Union, that fraternal feeling between the two sections of the country, and the wonderful material advancement of the south which we now witness. It conducted with wisdom and firmness the preparations for the resumption of specie payments, as well as the funding of the public debt at lower rates of interest, and thus facilitated the development of the remarkable business prosperity that continued to its close. While in its endeavors to effect a thorough and permanent reform of the civil service there were conspicuous lapses and inconsistencies, it accomplished important and lasting results. Not only without any appropriations of money and without encouragement of any kind from congress, but in the face of the decided hostility of a large majority of its members, the system of competitive examinations was successfully applied in some of the executive departments at Washington, and in the great government offices at New York, thus proving its practicability and usefulness. The removal by President Hayes of some of the most powerful party managers from their offices, avowedly on the ground that the offices had been used as a part of the political machinery, was an act of high courage, and during his administration there was far less meddling with party politics on the part of officers of the government than at any period since Andrew Jackson's time. The success of the Republican party in the election of 1880 was largely due to the general satisfaction among the people with the Hayes administration. On the expiration of his term, ex-President Hayes retired to his home at Fremont, Ohio. He was the recipient of various distinctions. The degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by Kenyon college, Harvard university, Yale college, and Johns Hopkins university. He was made commander of the military order of the Loyal legion, the first president of the Society of the Army of West Virginia, and president of the 23rd regiment Ohio Volunteers association. Much of his time was devoted to benevolent and useful enterprises. He was president of the trustees of the John F. Slater education-fund, one of the trustees of the Peabody education fund, president of the National prison-reform association, an active member of the National conference of corrections and charities, a trustee of the Western Reserve university at Cleveland, Ohio, of the Wesleyan university of Delaware, Ohio, of Mount Union college, at Alliance, Ohio, and of several other charitable and educational institutions. On the occasion of a meeting of the National prison-reform association, held at Atlanta, Ga., in November, 1886, he was received with much popular enthusiasm, and greeted by an ex-governor of Georgia as one to whom, more than to any other, the people were indebted for the era of peace and union which they now enjoyed, and by the governor, Gen. John B. Gordon, as the man who had “made a true and noble effort to complete the restoration of the Union by restoring fraternal feeling between the estranged sections.”
Thus he devoted the last years of his life to dignified occupations and endeavors, mostly of a philanthropic character, which were congenial to his nature and kept him in active contact with public-spirited men, by whom he was highly esteemed. He died after a short illness at his home in Fremont, Ohio, January 17, 1893. While he lived, the prejudice against him among some of his fellow-citizens owing to the cloud which hung over his title to the presidency had never entirely disappeared; but after his death even his former opponents admitted that there had never been the slightest reason for holding him responsible for the conduct of the returning boards in the southern states, or for the decision of the electoral commission which awarded the presidency to him, and that, when he had been declared elected by the competent authority, it was not only his right but his duty as a good citizen to accept the presidential office, and thus to put an end to one of the most perilous crises in the history of the republic. It was also universally recognized that the conduct of his administration had been conspicuously clean and blameless, as well as fruitful of good results, and that he rendered the country especially valuable service by the statesmanlike wisdom of his conciliatory course toward the south, by the unflinching and defiant firmness with which he upheld sound principles of national finance, and by his efforts in the line of civil-service reform, after his predecessor, yielding to the impetuous pressure of his party friends, had abandoned the whole system. He was not a man of genius, but of a strong and clear intellect, quick perceptions, and far more than ordinary acquirements, animated with the most conscientious conceptions of duty and the highest patriotic motives. The uprightness of his character and the exquisite purity of his life, public as well as domestic, exercised a conspicuously wholesome influence not only upon the personnel of the governmental machinery, but also upon the social atmosphere of the national capital while he occupied the White House. See “Life, Public Services, and Select Speeches of Rutherford B. Hayes,” by James Quay Howard (Cincinnati, 1876). Campaign lives were also written by William D. Howells (New York, 1876) and Russell H. Conwell (Boston, 1876).
His wife, Lucy Ware Webb, born in Chillicothe, Ohio, August 28, 1831; died in Fremont, Ohio, June 25, 1889. She was the daughter of a physician, and married in 1852. Of eight children, four sons and one daughter are living. Mrs. Hayes was noted for her devotion to the wounded soldiers during the war. She refused to permit wine to be served on the White House table, and for this innovation incurred much censure in some political circles, but received high praise from the advocates of total abstinence, who, on the expiration of her husband's term of office, presented her with various testimonials, including an album filled with autographic expressions of approval from many prominent persons, and an association of prominent ladies presented her portrait, to be added to the collection at the White House. Her high character, her frankness and sincerity, as well as the rare charm of her bearing, won her in an uncommon degree the affection and esteem of all who came into contact with her.