HistoryRutherford B. Hayes

The Biography of Rutherford B. Hayes

The great Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the nineteenth elected President of the United States of America. We now see his name in different places and events. But he led a pretty interesting life. Rutherford was an ambassador of change, and he worked in every department to create a positive environment in his country. He was a man of his words who used every platform to raise his voice.

Birth

The great Rutherford B. Hayes was born on October 4, in the year 1822. He opened his eyes to life in the city of Delaware, Ohio. He was the youngest son of his parents, Sophia Richard and Rutherford Hayes junior.

Rutherford Hayes's boyhood home

Rutherford was named after the name of his father and his grandfather. Although he was the son of a farmer, he was a born leader with unparalleled potential.

Early Life

Just after ten weeks of Rutherford’s birth, his father passed away. After the unexpected dismissal of the head of the family, Sophia, mother of Rutherford, took charge of the household.She worked tirelessly to take care of her family. Rutherford had two siblings. An older brother Lozano and a sister, Fanny. Hayes was two years old when his older brother drowned and died. Hence, he didn’t get the chance to be around his brother, either.

He and his sister Fanny were raised together by their mother. Their uncle, Sardis Birchard, lived with them for a while and played the role of a father for the children.

Education

Hayes did not have the luxury of staying in the same school. Due to his family circumstances, he changed his school quite a few times until he finally graduated. He received his graduation in the year 1842, from the Kenyon College.

After that, he got admission to Harvard Law School and completed his law degree (LLB) of three years. He then pursued his career in the field of law.

After some years, in 1850, he decided to move to Cincinnati. There, he opened a law office with John W. Herron and later joined a more established firm. He worked great in advocacy and made it in the list of exceptional lawyers of the city.

Personal Life and His Wife

Rutherford and Lucy Hayes on their wedding day

Hayes met with the love of his life, Lucy Webb, in Cincinnati during his law practices. And even though he knew her before, he didn’t think of her in a romantic way.

Little did he knew that theyboth would fall deeply in love with each other and get married on December 30, 1852. They spent most of their lives together. Lucy always supported Rutherford’s point of view and had his back throughout his career.

She was the very first lady of America who was a college graduate. And indeed, her way of looking at certain things reflected in the policies of Hayes.

Rutherford and Lucy shared a long, happy marriage until she died in 1889. The couple had eight children whom they loved and nurtured together.

The Days of Public Life

During the civil war, Hayes served for some time in the army. He was very hard working. Despite injuries that he faced in the Battle of South Mountain in 1862, he continued to serve and became the Major General.

a drawing of the Battle of South Mountain

In 1865, he decided to work in politics and joined congress. After two years, he realized that he enjoyed politics more than anything. Therefore, he officially resigned as the Major General and ran for the position of Governor of Ohio.

Rutherford became very popular as a politician. In the very early days of his new career, he realized that he was very committed to this field. He wanted to get more power to serve. So, in 1876, he decided to run for the President.

He was running opposite Democrat Samuel J. Tilden from New York City. Samuel was a renowned personality, and with him running for office, Rutherford had minimal chances to win.

So, Rutherford worked very hard on his campaign. From having famous people to promote him to personal vote requests, he did everything. But regardless of all this, he was doubtful for the win.

When the big day of the election came, there was a nail-biting competition. The results were very close and got down to the disputed areas. Finally, after the decision of those areas, the team of Republicans decided in favor of Hayes. Therefore, he won the competition by just one vote, interestingly.

Results of the 1876 election, with states won by Hayes in red, and those won by Tilden in blue

And just like that, Rutherford B. Hayes was appointed as the 19th President of the United States of America.

The Era of Presidency

Rutherford did not have a pretty smooth start of his presidential era. Due to the controversies of the elections, a lot of people were upset with him being the President. So, almost half of the nation did not accept him.

To avoid such hatred and controversies, Rutherford silently took his oath and started the services. He took his oath in the year 1977, in the Red Room of the White House. He was the first-ever President of America who took his oath in that room, and after him, it became the tradition.

Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite administering the oath of office to Hayes

Because of the Civil War, Hayes always had a soft spot for civil rights. He worked very hard to improve the conditions. He was a believer of change, so he tried to bring one. But unfortunately, the democrats blocked him in every way and denied all his policies. He wasn’t put in votes, and hence he couldn’t do much for the civil rights.

When he didn’t get successful in the civil rights matter, he did not give up. Instead, he turned his attention to the process of civil service. He forwarded different acts and policies for the betterment of situations. And, the result of his untiring efforts was seen even long after his time. He proposed the Pendleton Act, and although it wasn’t implemented during his presidency, it still brought a positive change in the policies of civil service.

In 1877, during the presidency of Rutherford, he had to face a strike of railroad workers. Apparently, they came on to streets to protest and walked off their jobs. The President had a hard time resolving the matters. And, even with the help of troops, he had to give in to the wagers.

Another very important part of Rutherford’s presidency was his wife’s policy of no alcohol. This was the first time in the history of America that a president banned alcohol and other liquors. The first lady of the time, Lucy Rutherford, wanted to create a healthy alcohol-free world. But as one would have thought, this policy was a failure all the way.

Death

After the death of Hayes’ wife, Lucy Webb, in 1889, Rutherford fell into depression. He spent most of his time traveling with his daughter and grandkids. He used to write that after Lucy, his soul had left him.

On January 17, 1893, Rutherford passed away due to some cardiac complications. According to several sources, his last words were “I am going, where my love is“.

Now, he is buried in the heart of his state, Spiegel grove.

Grave of Rutherford B. and Lucy Webb Hayes at Spiegel Grove

Legacy

Rutherford worked a lot in the field of social services. And even though he ran for the presidency only once, he still received great respect and appreciation for his work.

In 1878, when Rutherford favored Paraguay in a dispute with Argentina, a province was named after him in Paraguay. This was done by the people to show him that they appreciate his efforts. Now we call that province, President Hayes Department.

In 1890, a high school was built after his name to honor him and his work for positive change. It was named Rutherford B. Hayes High School. It is located in his hometown, Delaware, Ohio.

In 1916, the first presidential library of America was built with the name of Sir Rutherford Hayes. His family partially funded it. And hence, it was named Hayes Commemorative Library and Museum.

Due to his untiring efforts, his name will always be remembered with great gratitude.

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