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Rutherford Hayes in Context

January 30, 2020

Between Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt every Republican President had been a Union Army officer.  Andrew Johnson held the rank of brigadier general as military governor of Tennessee.  General Grant had command of the entire Union Army.  Garfield was the youngest major general in the Union Army.  Arthur was quartermaster general.  Benjamin Harrison was brigadier general.  McKinley entered the Union Army as a private and finished as brevet major.

General Rutherford B. Hayes, the man who became the 19th President, had been McKinley’s commanding officer.  Although McKinley made it through four years of warfare without injury or illness, Hayes was wounded several times and had four horses shot out from under him.

After the war Hayes served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives and three terms as Ohio governor.  When he ran for President in 1876, reformer Carl Schurz supported him.  Hayes made Schurz his Secretary of the Interior.

Senator John Sherman, brother of General Sherman, was appointed Secretary of the Treasury.  This created a Senate vacancy which Congressman James Garfield hoped to fill, but Hayes had few friends in the Democratically-controlled House.  He asked Garfield to remain there in order to fight for Administration priorities.

When Hayes first ran for governor in 1867, one of the main planks in his platform was universal male suffrage in Ohio.  This was achieved nationwide in 1870 when the 15th Amendment was ratified.  Because of the controversial way he became President, Hayes believed it was his duty to end Reconstruction by removing troops from the states of the former Confederacy.  This, in effect, and without Hayes’s approval, advanced white supremacy in the South.



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