Messages and Papers of Rutherford B. Hayes

Author: Rutherford B. Hayes

Messages and Papers of

March 4, 1877, to March 4, 1881

RUTHERFORD B. HAYES was born in Delaware Ohio, October 4, 1822. His father had died in July, 1822, leaving his mother in modest circumstances. He attended the common schools, and began early the study of Latin and Greek with Judge Sherman Finch, of Delaware. Prepared for college at an academy at Norwalk, Ohio, and at a school in Middletown, Conn. In the autumn of 1838 entered Kenyon College, at Gambier, Ohio. Excelled in logic, mental and moral philosophy, and mathematics, and also made his mark as a debater in the literary societies. On his graduation, in August, 1842, was awarded the valedictory oration, with which he won much praise. Soon afterwards began the study of law in the office of Thomas Sparrow, at Columbus, Ohio, and then attended a course of law lectures at Harvard University, entering the law school August 22, 1843, and finishing his studies there in January, 1845. As a law student he had the advantage of friendly intercourse with Judge Story and Professor Greenleaf, and also attended the lectures of Longfellow on literature and of Agassiz on natural science, pursuing at the same time the study of French and German. In May, 1845, was admitted to practice in the courts of Ohio as an attorney and counselor at law. Established himself first at Lower Sandusky (now Fremont), where in April, 1846, he formed a law partnership with Ralph P. Buckland, then a Member of Congress. In the winter of 1849-50 established himself at Cincinnati. His practice at first being light, continued his studies in law and literature, and also became identified with various literary societies, among them the literary club of Cincinnati, where he met Salmon P. Chase, Thomas Ewing, Thomas Corwin Stanley Matthews, Moncure D. Conway, Manning F. Force, and others of note. December 30, 1852, married Miss Lucy Ware Webb, daughter of Dr. James Webb, a physician of Chillicothe, Ohio. In January, 1854, formed a law partnership with H. W. Convine and William K. Rogers. In 1856 was nominated for the office of common pleas judge, but declined. In 1858 was elected city solicitor by the city council of Cincinnati to fill a vacancy, and in the following year was elected to the same office at a popular election, but was defeated for reelection in 1861. After becominga voter he acted with the Whig party, voting for Henry Clay in 1844, for General Taylor in 1848, and for General Scott in 1852. Having from his youth cherished antislavery feelings, he joined the Republican party as soon as it was organized, and earnestly advocated the election of Fremont in 1856 and of Lincoln in 1860. At a great mass meeting held in Cincinnati immediately after the firing on Fort Sumter was made chairman of a committee on resolutions. His literary club formed a military company, of which he was elected captain. June 7, 1861, was appointed by the governor of Ohio major of the Twenty-third Ohio Volunteers. September 19, 1861, was appointed by General Rosecrans judge-advocate of the Department of the Ohio. October 24, 1861, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In the battle of South Mountain, September 14, 1862, distinguished himself by gallant conduct in leading a charge and in holding a position at the head of his troops after being severely wounded in his left arm. October 24, 1862, was appointed colonel of the Twenty-third Ohio. In July, 1863, while with the army in southwestern Virginia, caused an expedition of two regiments and a section of artillery under his command to be dispatched to Ohio for the purpose of checking the raid of the Confederate general John Morgan, and aided materially in preventing the raiders from recrossing the Ohio River and in compelling Morgan to surrender. In the spring of 1864 commanded a brigade in General Crook’s expedition to cut the principal lines of communication between Richmond and the Southwest. Distinguished himself by conspicuous bravery at the head of his brigade in storming a fortified position on the crest of Cloyd Mountain. Commanded a brigade in the first battle of Winchester. Took a creditable part in the engagement at Berryville, and at the second battle of Winchester, September 19, 1864, performed a feat of great bravery. Leading an assault upon a battery on an eminence, he found in his way a morass over 50 yards wide. Being at the head of his brigade, he plunged in first, and, his horse becoming mired at once, he dismounted and waded across alone under the enemy’s fire. Signaled his men to come over, and when about 40 had joined him he rushed upon the battery and captured it after a hand-to-hand fight. At Fishers Hill, September 22, 1864, being then in command of a division, executed a brilliant flank movement over mountains and through woods, took many pieces of artillery, and routed the enemy. At the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864, his conduct attracted so much attention that his commander, General Crook, commended him, saying, "Colonel, from this day you will be a brigadier-general." The commission reached him a few days afterwards. March 13, 1865, received the rank of brevet major-general "for gallant and distinguished services during the campaign of 1864 in West Virginia, and particularly at the battles of Fishers Hill and Cedar Creek, Virginia." In August, 1864, while in the field, was nominated for Congress and elected. After the war, returned to civil life, and took hisseat in Congress December 4, 1865. Voted with his party on questions connected with the reconstruction of the Southern States; supported a resolution declaring the sacredness of the public debt and denouncing repudiation, and also one commending President Johnson for declining to accept presents and condemning the practice; opposed a resolution favoring an increase of pay of members of Congress; introduced in a Republican caucus resolutions declaring that the only mode of obtaining from the States lately in rebellion irreversible guaranties was by constitutional amendment, and that an amendment basing representation upon voters instead of population ought to be acted upon without delay. In August 1866, was renominated for Congress by acclamation, and was reelected. Supported the impeachment of President Johnson. In June, 1867, was nominated for governor of Ohio, and at the election defeated Judge Allen G. Thurman. In June, 1869, was again nominated for governor, and at the election defeated George H. Pendleton. At the expiration of his term as governor declined to be a candidate for the United States Senate against John Sherman. In 1872 was again nominated for Congress, but at the election was defeated. Declined the office of assistant treasurer of the United States at Cincinnati. In 1873 established his home at Fremont with the intention of retiring from public life. In 1875 was again nominated for governor of Ohio, and at the election defeated William Alien. Was nominated for President of the United States at the national Republican convention at Cincinnati on June 16, 1876. The Democrats selected as their candidate Samuel J. Tilden, of New York. The result of the election became the subject of acrimonious dispute. Each party charged fraud upon the other, and both parties claimed to have carried the States of Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida. To avoid a deadlock, which might have happened if the canvass of the electoral votes had been left to the two Houses of Congress (the Senate having a Republican and the House of Representatives a Democratic majority), an act, advocated by members of both parties, was passed to refer all contested cases to a commission composed of five Senators, five Representatives, and five Justices of the Supreme Court, the decision of this commission to be final unless set aside by a concurrent vote of the two Houses of Congress. The commission, refusing to go behind the certificates of the governors, decided in each contested case by a vote of 8 to 7 in favor of the Republican electors, beginning with Florida on February 7, and on March 2 Mr. Hayes was declared duly elected President of the United States. Was inaugurated March 5, 1877. At the expiration of his term returned to his home at Fremont, Ohio. Was the recipient of various distinctions. The degree of LL. D. was conferred upon him by Kenyon College, Harvard University, Yale College, and Johns Hopkins University. Was made senior vice-commander of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, commander of the Ohio commandery of the same order, first president of the Society of the Army of WestVirginia, and president of the Twenty-third Regiment Ohio Volunteers Association. Was president of the trustees of the John F. Slater education fund; one of the trustees of the Peabody education fund; president of the National Prison Reform Association; an active member of the National Conference of Corrections and Charities; a trustee of the Western Reserve University, at Cleveland, Ohio, of the Wesleyan University, of Delaware, Ohio, of Mount Union College, at Alliance, Ohio, and of the Ohio State University. He died at Fremont, Ohio, January 17, 1893, and was buried there.


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Chicago: Rutherford B. Hayes, "Title Page," Messages and Papers of Rutherford B. Hayes in 4392–4394. Original Sources, accessed July 4, 2022,

MLA: Hayes, Rutherford B. "Title Page." Messages and Papers of Rutherford B. Hayes, in , pp. 4392–4394. Original Sources. 4 Jul. 2022.

Harvard: Hayes, RB, 'Title Page' in Messages and Papers of Rutherford B. Hayes. cited in , , pp.4392–4394. Original Sources, retrieved 4 July 2022, from