Policies of Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes was elected to be the President of the United States in the year 1877. As the president, he presented various policies for the betterment of the nation as he wanted to improve the conditions of his country. Some of them were hit while others were a complete miss. Nonetheless, he ran the country like a leader he was.

Following are some of the policies that Rutherford came up with during his tenure of the presidency from 1877 to 1881:

Domestic Policies

Reforms for Civil Services

President Hayes was a peoples’ person. He tried to change the usual way of politics. He started the reforms to promote local citizens. Instead of choosing the government’s favorite people, he wanted to hire the common people who had the true potential to serve for civil services.

But even though he tried his very best to get this legislation passed, Congress could not allow it. Rutherford made efforts throughout his presidential period to get the bill passed, but he didn’t succeed. However, he did get a chance to make some changes when Congress subsided for a short time.

He used this chance for his benefit and started the campaign of a corruption-free system. He fired all the officers that were hired on the bases of favoritism and began to appoint people based on merit.

But, as Congress came back, he had to face the same issues all over again. He even mentioned this issue in his farewell speech and appealed to Congress to pass it. And even though this reform was never implemented, people still saw his intentions. They knew what he was trying to do and appreciated him for the efforts.

The Railroad Strike and Posse Comitatus Act

The same year when Rutherford received the presidency (in 1877), he had to face a strike of railroad workers. This was probably the most significant incident of his time.The employees of the railroad backed out of their jobs and came on to the streets. They protested against the reduction of their wages. This was done to compensate for the previous financial losses.

This strike is still considered as one of the major disturbances of the labor system of America. It spread all over the country like fire, and every major city became a part of it.

Later, a riot erupted in some states. And to cope up with that, Hayes had to call troops even though he never wanted to.

President Rutherford always felt for his people. After this strike, he passed the Posse Comitatus Act. According to it, military uses were limited until very necessary.

The Policy of Currency Backing

Before Rutherford took the presidency, the American currency was called Greenbacks. Sadly, these were subjected to inflation as there was no backing of it from gold. When he looked into the matter, he decided to back up all the currency with gold.

Along with his treasury, he came up with the policies to implement his thinking. But again, he was stopped by Congress. They believed that currency could be backed up by silver, too, and passed an act for it.

This time, Hayes played cleverly. He backed up the currency with silver coinage just to pass the required amount by law. And after that range, everything was saved in gold. This way, he got control over inflation that had caught the country before.

End of Reconstruction Policy

After the elections, there was a neck to neck competition between Hayes and Samuel. The result of elections came down to the disputed states.

The republicans decided in favor of Hayes. But this was done only with one condition. They asked Hayes that once he would take on the presidency, he would withdraw the troops from the South.When this happened, it ended the reconstruction era. It put a great dent on the economy of the country.

This incident is still considered as a remarkable event in the history of America.

Policy to Improve the Power of the President

When Hayes realized that the dictation of Congress would never let him do any good, he started making amends to control the situation. After many struggles, he succeeded in gaining the power over appointments of Federal Officers.

Congress lost their rights to dictate over the President, and he got the control to run the office the way he wanted. This way, he used to arrange appointments for the officers on the merit basis. He hired people with complete honesty. He was very loyal to his country. Therefore, he took this chance to make a better change.

With this policy, new and talented people were taken in consideration to work in civil services. This empowered the nation and produced an atmosphere of corruption-free system.

Indian Policy

In this policy, Hayes decided to include Indian immigrants in the mainstream nation. He came up with certain projects to empower them. This policy was built to decrease the racial differences in the country.

Hayes proposed different educational and vocational training programs for them. The reason for these programs was to make them strong. It was supposed to bring equal rights to the people who were treated as foreigners despite living in the same country.

The local population disliked this concept and turned against Rutherford. They thought of it as a violation of their rights, but this did not stop him from proceeding his policy.

He had a perfect vision, and he never stopped for anyone. He knew that this policy could change the racial status of the country. And as always, he was right.

Foreign Policies

Following are the foreign policies that President Hayes presented during the period of his presidency:

Relations with Mexico

Before the presidency period of Rutherford, the border of Mexico and America was considered as a lawless area. Several bands would cross the borders and raid the areas of Texas.

When Hayes took over the office, just after three months of his presidency, he looked over this issue. And soon, he decided to finish this problem once and for all. He sent the troops and ordered them to take down the bandits even if they had to cross the border.

The Mexican Government opposed this order, and a violent stage was seen on the border. But fortunately, the presidents of both neighbors negotiated, and it was decided that no bandits would be allowed to cross the border. And in return, the United States agreed not to send the troops on the border anymore.

The Policy of a Transoceanic Route

In 1879, the French Government proposed to form a transoceanic route for exports and other trade. But President Rutherford was never keen on the idea to participate in any policy that was led by any non-Americans.

Even though he said yes to this policy at first, he soon realized that it was no good for the country. He then denied it and rejected the plan. But the project went ahead nonetheless.

Soon, it proved to be a failure and collapsed just after a few years. Thus, proving President Rutherford right once again.

Relations with China

During the tenure of Rutherford’s presidency, Congress tried to restrict Chinese by making the immigration rules strict for them. Hayes did not like the idea of singling out a country. So, he overruled the Congress proposal.

He made a policy to welcome the Chinese open-heartedly. This made the relations between the two countries much better. This policy started the trade between the two nations and created a positive environment in the field of trade.


Above mentioned are some of the important policies of Rutherford. Being the President, he planned many reforms to bring change in the country. Where several of his policies were denied, some made a huge impact on the political world of the United States.