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President Rutherford B. Hayes

Updated on January 7, 2017

Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1822-93) was the 19th president of the United States (1877-81).

Born in Delaware, Ohio, Hayes graduated Kenyon College in 1843 and Harvard law school in 1845. In 1852 he married Lucy Webb; they had eight children. Originally a Whig, Hayes was an early supporter of the new Republican party. He served in the US House of Representatives (1865-67), where he supported the Radical Reconstruction program.

He was elected governor of Ohio three times (1867, 1869, 1875). In 1876 he won the Republican nomination for president. His Democratic opponent was Governor Samuel J. Tilden of New York.

The Hayes-Tilden election was extremely close, with electoral votes of four states in dispute. An electoral commission, in an openly political decision, awarded all disputed votes to Hayes, who thus won by one electoral vote, even though Tilden had polled more popular votes.

Despite the cloud under which he came into office, Hayes, once president, was a courageous and honest administrator. He ended the era of Reconstruction by removing federal troops from the last two southern states (Louisiana and South Carolina). He made important reforms in the civil service, which were unpopular with important segments of the Republican party, and he was not renominated in 1880.

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