19 - Rutherford B Hayes
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Rutherford B. Hayes by Hans Trefousse
The Presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes by Ari Arthur Hoogenboom
Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior & President by Ari Hoogenboom
Rutherford B. Hayes by Dale Whitaker
Hayes was the first President to use a telephone while in office. The first telephone was installed in the White House in 1879.
Of the five presidents who served in the Civil War, Hayes was the only one to be wounded.
He won the presidency by only one electorial vote.
Hayes was the first president to visit the West Coast while in office.
His wife, Lucy Hayes, banned alcohol, smoking, dancing, and card playing from the White House.
Hayes and his wife conducted the first Easter egg roll on the White House lawn.
He was named after his father, Rutherford Hayes, and his mother, Sophia Birchard.
Hayes never knew his father, who died a few months before he was born.
My copy is a reprint of the 1954 and is published by the American Political Biography Press. 523 pages of Mr. Barnard's writing and 81 pages of notes, bibliography and index.
We can wonder what might have been if Sam Tilden, the New York Governor who smashed "Boss" Tweed's ring of influence, had not had his lead in the popular vote quashed by Congress in favor of RBH. But we can also be reasonably happy about the job that Hayes did as a one-term president. He seems to have been quite a guy, a guy who preferred the middle of the road and conciliation to brute force. He was the agent of change for the post-civil war restoration by withdrawing troops from the South and by appointing an ex-Conferate to his cabinet, an action promised to South by the Republican political machine if they would support Hayes over Tilden in the post-election dispute. He can also take some credit for the lifting of the long economic depression. It also appears that his use of the power of veto was honest and to the country's benefit, particularly on the issue of Army appropriations when he six times he refused to allow successive bills including repressive issues to get his signature.
I liked the book and the way it was constructed. I liked the man presented.
Harry Barnard summed up Rutherford B. Hayes' presidency the best, I think: not in the list of best presidents, nor the worst, but in a sort of no-man's land of forgotten ones. Hayes was a bit of a surprise, at least as Barnard presents him. His upbringing and early life left him unusually close to his sister, and with a high moral sense from his mother. He developed into a consensus-builder with high ambition, but with very little of the ruthlessness usually found in machine politics of the day. He found it difficult to see others as less than the gentleman that he aspired to be, which hurt the country later when he ended Reconstruction without forcing the Southern states to live up to their promises to end white supremacy. He seemed to be a genuinely nice person, yet he made some life-long (at least in his political life) enemies in his own party that prevented him from having an effective Presidency.
Barnard's book was originally written in 1954 - I read the 1994 reprint. At times, Barnard is distinctly an author of the 50's. Some of the discussion of Hayes' relationship with his sister smacks of psychoanalysis. There's a constant thread through the first half of the book worrying about Hayes' "manliness" that seems out of place today. But Barnard's very readable, especially when discussing the 1876 election where Hayes won the Presidency through the manipulation of vote counting in Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana. Reading this with the 2000 election in mind, Barnard sounds oddly up to date, even though he wrote 45 years before Bush v. Gore went to the Supreme Court.
All in all, Rutherford B. Hayes: And His America is a good introduction to an interesting man. It's less about the times than about who he was, and that's what I liked about it.
by Ari Hoogenboom
This is a good book, worth far more of a review than can be generated from my beleaguered brain. Professor Hoogenboom looks at Rutherford Hayes not as the president whose administration lost the Reconstruction, but rather as a man who made the best he could of a lousy situation. (Hoogenboom argues that Reconstruction was on its way out anyway.) The book is actually an enjoyable tale of a charismatic, noble man who had moments of struggle against powerful opponents. Hayes didn't always win, but he always stood his ground. And, Hoogenboom argues, he tempered the results so that his opponents never really got everything they desired. So I highly recommend the book. (even if I can't write a decent review of it.)
Then moved on to The Presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes by Ari Arthur Hoogenboom. This was an in depth look at the policy of this presidency which covered civil service reform, Indian policy, and the end of Reconstruction. It especially focused on the political difficulties that Hayes faced after winning the most disputed election in American history (yes, even more than 2000), and how that made it mostly impossible to keep troops in the South.
Also read Rutherford B. Hayes and His America by Barnard. I actually enjoyed the psychology experiment that Barnard did, and I think that a lot of historical study necessarily must take psychology into account. Barnard definitely backs up his thoughts on Hayes' relationship with his mom and sister with evidence, so I don't have a problem with it. As drneutron said, it is readable and gives you a good idea who Hayes was. What I like about the biographies as opposed to the Kansas University Presidency Series and the NYT Series from Schlesinger is that they follow these guys all the way to their deaths, and you can see the humanity of a famous man grappling with being out of public life after reaching the pinnacle and worrying about their legacies. In this case, Barnard explores Hayes' flirtation with socialism, which is something I didn't know about him.
Title: Rutherford B Hayes: Warrior and President ★★★½
Author: Ari Hoogenboom
Dates Read: July 3 - July 11
Number of pages: 535
Rutherford B. Hayes, for me, was just the name of the President who followed Grant. I really knew nothing about him. I read another biography which told me about his early life and military adventures during the Civil War but absolutely nothing about his Presidency so I ordered this book from another library and set to work to find out about his Presidency. I will admit to skimming through to his Presidency since I'd already been there and done that.
The Hayes Administration did not start out well. Because of the disputed election results from South Carolina, Louisiana and FLORIDA, the victor was not declared until March 2nd - two days before he was to take office. A special act of Congress and commission were needed to determine which election returns from these three states would be counted. There were questions of fraud, ballot box stuffing, and intimidation of voters - not the cheering that is expected at the end of an election.
Hayes had at the beginning stated that he would only serve one term. During that term he was confronted with numerous diplomatic issues - Chinese immigration and the beginning talks and negotiations regarding the Panama Canal. Domestic problems that he faced centered on the final reconciliation of the South by the removal of federal forces and reinstatement of local government control, redemption of greenbacks and return to specie payments, and his prime goal of civil service reform.
Hayes battled continually with the Democratic Congress because of his desire to reform the civil service and frequently had to veto appropriation bills because of riders that they inserted that would have weakened election laws in the South. Other items he should be remembered for are his stressing of education for all (which he worked on after he left office) and the final funding for the completion of the Washington Monument.
Rutherford B Hayes stated at his inauguration " he serves his party best who serves his country best." It was words he lived by, always believing that if he did what was best for the country, he would never hurt the Republican Party.
Benjamin Harrison said of Hayes on his death "His public service extended over many years and over a wide range of official duty. He was a patriotic citizen, a lover of the flag and of our free institutions, an industrious and conscientious civil officer, a soldier of dauntless courage, a loyal comrade and friend, a sympathetic and helpful neighbor, and the honored head of a happy Christian home. He has steadily grown in the public esteem, and the impartial historian will not fail to recognize the conscientiousness, the manliness, and the courage that so strongly characterized his whole public career."
The book is well-written, easy to read and follow, and apparently well-researched.
"Rutherford Hayes will forever be linked with the Disputed Election of 1876, an unfortunate legacy since he should be counted among the most honest presidents."
If only half of what is told in this biography is true, this man has earned my respect. This is a president I am glad that I found out about. Too bad not more people know of his life.