Rutherford B Hayes: 19th President

Updated on August 13, 2017
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Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past or else be destined to repeat it.

Official Presidential Portrait


Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States, was known for being honest and hard-working.

Before "Rud" was born, his father passed away. His uncle decided to raise him and made sure he received a very good education. He went to Kenyon College, then onto Harvard Law School. He spent his first five years as a lawyer in Lower Sandusky, then he moved to Cincinnati where he became a very successful criminal lawyer.

His Early Career

During the Civil War, he joined the Union Army, where he was wounded in action. Due to his success during battle, he became a brevet major general. While serving, Cincinnati Republicans nominated him to the House of Representatives.

Although he accepted the nomination, he refused to campaign. He stated that "an officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer... ought to be scalped." Despite not campaigning for the position, he was elected by the vast majority. He entered Congress in December of 1865. In 1867, he began the first of his three terms as Governor of Ohio. It was while he was governor, in 1876, that he was chosen as the Republican nominee for President.

General Hayes


Hayes' Presidency

Despite numerous famous Republican speakers, including Mark Twain, speaking on his behalf, the election was a very tight race. Many thought he had lost to the Democratic candidate, Governor Samuel J. Tilden of New York, because the first returns appeared to confirm this. As it stood, the popular vote was 4,300,000 for Tilden and 4,036,000 for Hayes, which meant Tilden had won the popular vote.

Those who backed Hayes, including Republican National Chairman Zachariah Chandler, challenged the returns from three Southern states: Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida. If all three disputed electoral votes ended up in Hayes' favor, then he would win. If even one was found to have favored Tilden, then Tilden would have won.

In January 1877, Congress formed an Electoral Commission to look into the exact number of votes. This commission consisted of eight Republicans and seven Democrats. Right before Inauguration Day the commission determined that all of the contested states were in favor of Hayes, which made the final electoral vote 185 to 184. Hayes was elected with a very narrow margin.

Rutherford was very careful in choosing his Cabinet. He felt that political considerations should not be considered, and chose to appoint based on merit. He appointed men that he felt were exemplary in character. Unfortunately, two of the men he had chosen caused many Republicans to become outraged. One was an ex-Confederate, while the other ran as a Liberal Republican in 1872.

Hayes was a very conservative man along with his wife Lucy. His wife received the nickname "Lemonade Lucy," since she refused to serve alcoholic beverages in the White House. At the time, this pleased the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

She also did not allow card playing, dancing, and even wore high-necked evening gowns. Despite the strict rules, White House parties were extremely popular while he was in office. This was due to how friendly and hospitable the President and First Lady were.

While in office, Hayes promised to protect the rights of African Americans in the South. Unfortunately, he also advocated "wise, honest, and peaceful local self-government." This required that the troops that were stationed in the South to protect the black community were required to leave, in order to allow local communities to govern themselves.

His hope was that the South would build a "new Republican party," where conservatives would rally. In the short term, the leaders of the new South favored Republican economic policies, as well as his financial conservatism. Unfortunately, they were not able to get past the polls. The "solid South" refused to accept them as leaders, which hindered the protection of African Americans in the South.

While Hayes was in office there was a great advancement in technology. Alexandra Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, gave Rutherford a personal demonstration of his new invention. Soon thereafter, the first phone was installed in the Executive Mansion. Thomas Edison also gave a personal demonstration of his own invention to the Hayes, the phonograph.

At the end of his term, Hayes kept his promise that he would only serve one term. In 1881, he retired to Spiegel Grove, in Fremont Ohio. He later died in 1893.

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Fun Facts

  • Only president to have no alcoholic beverages served at any of his functions, which caused his wife to be nicknamed, "Lemonade Lucy." She was also the first first-lady to have a college degree
  • First president to have a telephone in the White House, which was installed in May 1879.
  • Was the first president to have a typewriter in the White House, which at the time was high tech. It arrived in February 1880.
  • Met both Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell and had personal demonstrations of both the first telephones and phonographs.
  • During his term, New York City was the first city to boast a population of over one million.

Excerpt from the History Channel

Basic Facts

October 4, 1822 - Ohio
President Number
Military Service
United States Army, Union Army
Wars Served
American Civil War Battle of South Mountain Valley Campaigns of 1864
Age at Beginning of Presidency
55 years old
Term of Office
March 4,1877 - March 3, 1881
How Long Served as President
4 years
William Wheeler
Age and Year of Death
January 17, 1893 (aged 70)
Cause of Death
complications from a heart attack

Cartoon: "Torpedoes in His Path: Can he, with that load, get through without exploding them?"

U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes carries a cabinet on his back, containing Vice President William Wheeler, Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman, and Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz.
U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes carries a cabinet on his back, containing Vice President William Wheeler, Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman, and Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz. | Source

List of United States Presidents

1. George Washington
16. Abraham Lincoln
31. Herbert Hoover
2. John Adams
17. Andrew Johnson
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. Thomas Jefferson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
33. Harry S. Truman
4. James Madison
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. James Monroe
20. James Garfield
35. John F. Kennedy
6. John Quincy Adams
21. Chester A. Arthur
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
7. Andrew Jackson
22. Grover Cleveland
37. Richard M. Nixon
8. Martin Van Buren
23. Benjamin Harrison
38. Gerald R. Ford
9. William Henry Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
39. James Carter
10. John Tyler
25. William McKinley
40. Ronald Reagan
11. James K. Polk
26. Theodore Roosevelt
41. George H. W. Bush
12. Zachary Taylor
27. William Howard Taft
42. William J. Clinton
13. Millard Fillmore
28. Woodrow Wilson
43. George W. Bush
14. Franklin Pierce
29. Warren G. Harding
44. Barack Obama
15. James Buchanan
30. Calvin Coolidge
45. Donald Trump


  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2009). Rutherford B. Hayes. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from
  • Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.
  • What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2016, from


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    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 7 months ago from United States

      Thank you.

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 7 months ago

      Very well written article. I enjoyed reading it. You provided some interesting information.