Rutherford Birchard Hayes, the 19th president of USA was
born on 4th October, 1822 in Delaware, Ohio. He was the fifth child of his
Rutherford Hayes Jr. was his father and his mother was Sophia Birchard Hayes.
Rutherford Hayes Jr., a farmer by profession, died just a few months after
Birchard was born. Brother of Sophia, Sardis Birchard and Sophia herself, took
the responsibility to raise Hayes and Fanny, his sister..
Birchard Hayes could get very good education in his early days. He started with
Norwalk Academy in Ohio where his family had settled. From there he went to
Middletown, Connecticut to join a privately owned school. He then enrolled
himself in Kenyon College in Gamber, Ohio and got his degree in 1842. After
working for ten months in a law office, Hayes got admitted in Harvard Law School
and in the year 1845 he was graduated.
Birchard started practicing Law in Sandusky, presently named
Fremont, after returning to Ohio. Since he was not getting much success from a
small community of Lower Sandusky, Hayes started practicing at Cincinnati which
proved to be a success for him.
Hayes was opposed to slavery and for this reason he joined the new
Republican Party though he was originally associated with the Whig Party.
Birchard got married to Lucy Ware Webb, who belonged to
Chillicothe, Ohio on 30th December, 1852. She was a graduate from Wesleyan Women’s
College located in Cincinnati. Hayes continued practicing law and became the
city solicitor of Cincinnati in 1858.
In the year 1861, Civil War broke out in America. Hayes was
appointed major of Twenty-Third Volunteer Infantry Regiment of Ohio, by Governor
Williams Dennison. Hayes was injured several times while fighting in the war and
was ultimately promoted to the rank of Major General.
Due to his service in the military, he was nominated for the House
of Representatives of USA by Ohio Republicans in the year 1864. After winning
the election, Birchard resigned from military on 9th June, 1865 and joined the
Hayes supported the reconstruction work which started after the Civil War. In
1866, Hayes was re-elected to the House of Representative. But he resigned very
soon. Hayes was successful in his campaign for the position of Ohio Governor,
supporting suffrage of African Americans and defeated Democrat Allen Granberry
Thurman in 1867. He also defeated George Hunt Pendleton in the re-election in
the year 1869.
However the Republicans were successful in persuading Hayes to
return to politics and in 1875, Hayes ran successfully against William Allen,
the Democratic candidate, for the post of governor and became the first person
to have been elected as Ohio governor for the third term.
Hayes was chosen as a candidate for the election for the post of
President in 1876 by National Republicans who were highly impressed with his
successful tenure as a Republican governor. Eminent speakers including Mark
Twain campaigned for Hayes. The contest between Hayes and Samuel Jones Tiden of
the Democratic Party and Governor of New York was very close.
Hayes started a system of federal civil service and worked hard
for improving the monetary system of the nation..He proved to be a competent and
mildly reformist president. He alienated many supporters by insisting on ending
patronage appointments and by pursuing civil service reform.
Hayes’s wife Lucy was strict and was instrumental to ban
alcohol, which was duly supported by the President at White House. For this she
earned the nickname “Lemonade Lucy”. Hayes did not contest for the
second term and came back to Fremont in the year 1881, thus keeping his promises
While in retirement, Hayes worked for reformation of prisons and
public education along with other interests also. He died on 17th January, 1893
at his home in Spiegel Grove.