Ranked #32: His election was considered one of the most corrupt n American history. This affected his ability to lead and his decision to not run for reelection. Yet he managed to strengthen the office of the presidency during his tenure.
Summary: Rutherford was a good man, a modest man, Hayes was loyal to his childhood friends throughout his whole life. He was not chic or polished. He was a classic type of personality that constantly traveled at the same leisurely speed. He loved people and was a great conversationalist. He loved to study people in general. He had an uncanny ability to remember names and faces of people he met in his life, even the most casual of acquaintances. The Hayes White House started and ended each day with prayers with the entire Hayes family present.
Bio: Hayes entered office during a time in America when the Republican party was about to unravel due to the Johnson and Grant administrations. Hayes knew he had to reach out to Americans, and he set out to do so. He traveled regularly and spoke briefly along the way, knowing that the press would echo what he said to an even wider range of people. He conducted himself as a steady presence in Washington and in the end, the Republican party was standing tall once again. As promised, Hayes did not attempt to run for re-election because of the debacle that was the 1876 election. Had he tried, he likely would have won. The economy was on the rise, and if he had been re-elected, he would have been able to do more for civil rights. Shortly before he died in 1893, he said, “I am a radical in thought (and principle) and a conservative in method (and conduct)”
Like the elections of 1824, 1888, 2000 and 2016, the election of 1876 was a hard one for the winner, who could be said to have been the loser. Rutherford actually lost the popular vote by about 250,000 votes. America at the time was still healing from the Civil War and was not in the mood for something like this. In the case of three states, (South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida) both parties were reporting victories for their candidate. It was eventually left in the hands of the House of Representatives where 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats were tasked to decide. Naturally it was decided in a partisan way and the Republicans elected Hayes. This proved to be a dangerous period in Hayes’ life. He was shot at once while resting in his own home. In fact, President Grant personally acted as an unofficial body guard during his inauguration.
Hayes was a frequent hunter and fisherman. To keep in shape, he had a lively morning exercise routine after which he would take a brisk walk. He played chess and enjoyed reading about history, biographies, fiction and poetry. He also liked to landscape his own property. He was a soldier during the Civil War, starting as a Major and eventually being promoted to Brigadier General. He was injured several times and had a horse shot out from under him no fewer than four times. Even General Grant was impressed with his service. He eventually became a Congressman and Governor of Ohio.
Hayes wore a long beard for most of his adult life. He had broad shoulders, a high forehead, a straight nose and straight teeth. He was a simple dresser. He was 5’ 8” and weighed about 175 pounds. His health was generally sound. He didn’t drink, smoke or swear. In fact, his White House was free of that as well. His wife was known as “Lemonade Lucy,” due to her Temperance habits. After a state dinner, a Secretary of State at the time commented that he had a great evening and the water flowed like champagne. There was only one exception: when the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia visited. Aside from that occasion, some diplomats felt insulted by the refusal of the White House to entertain with wine or spirits.
Pros: Believed in equal rights. Fought against political corruption.
Cons: Technically lost the election of 1876 but became president none the less. Ended reconstruction and pulled American troops out of the south.
Born: October 4, 1822, Delaware, Ohio
Died: January 17, 1893 (aged 70) Fremont, Ohio
Term: March 4, 1877 to March 3, 1881(1 term)
Political Party: Republican
Education: Kenyon College (graduated 1842), Harvard Law School (graduated 1845)
Children: Birchard Austin (1853–1926), James Webb Cook (1856–1934), Rutherford Platt (1858–1927), Joseph Thompson (1861–1863), George Crook (1864–1866), Fanny (1867–1950), Scott Russell (1871–1923), Manning Force (1873–1874)