Learning about Lesser Known Presidents: Rutherford B. Hayes

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Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States, representative of the Republican Party, was sworn in on March 4, 1877. During his single term as President, he ushered in the end of the Reconstitution Period, accelerating the process of national healing which began following the end of the Civil War.

President Hayes was inaugurated following one of the most controversial and confusing presidential elections in the history of the nation. In fact, he lost the popular vote to the Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden. He won nomination from the electoral college after being surprisingly awarded twenty votes by a Congressional commission. This resulted in a heated political dispute which eventually lead to the Compromise of 1877. As part of the compromise, President Hayes promised to end domestic military activities in the south. He also pledged to not to run for re-election.

Despite the controversy surrounding President Hayes’ election, his 4 years in office proved to be very productive. Hayes’ primary mission during his term was to promote racial equality and social justice. He believed that education reform was the best way to turn these dreams into a reality. He fought against the spoils system which saw government officials awarding their friends and confidants with jobs following elections.

During his first year in office, President Hayes was confronted by the Great Railroad Strike which threatened to decimate the national economy. The result was a wide spread series of riots which rocked the nation. State militias and federal troops had to be brought in to quell the violence. The strike was ended and the economy continued to chug on.

President Hayes also implemented the Coinage Act of 1873 which ended minting of silver coins worth over a dollar. The purpose of the Coinage Act of 1873 was to support the value of gold on which the United States economy still depended.

Staying true to the promise he gave prior to his inauguration, President Rutherford B. Hayes declined to run for a second term.

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