Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford Birchard Hayes had been elected president by one electoral vote. It sounds fantastic for Hayes, but it came at a price. He had won only because he and his representatives had agreed that they would remove federal troops from the South in exchange for Southern Democrat’s support. People found out how Hayes had won and he was deemed “Rutherfraud”, and “His Fraudulency.” By now your thinking that Hayes is a dishonest jerk. Hayes, however, proved to be an extremely honest man who wasn’t even interested in a second term. He wanted to bring power back to the presidency and clean house after the Grant presidency. He declared that civil servants could not participate directly in any political activity, which clashed with major members of his own party. Congress had also tried to ban immigration from China, but Hayes vetoed it on account of its racism. He spoke out against society’s growing domination by corporations and was one of the first presidents to speak out in favor of protecting the environment. He also supported the Temperance movement, which wanted to get rid of alcohol, by banning it in the White House.
Hayes sought to bring back dignity and respectability to the presidency, something that was lost during the Grant years. Hayes also tried to bring the power of the presidency back, but lost more power when both houses of Congress fell to the Democrats. Though he had ended Reconstruction, it led to a sectional harmony between the north and south. The early end to Reconstruction would have adverse effects on the African Americans though. Without federal support, many blacks were mistreated and kept from voting or doing anything without being harassed. Hayes happily retired and worked on numerous social causes, such as public education, promotion of rights of African Americans, and prison reform.
I think Hayes did a lot of good for the country and was an honest man, as a president should be. His vetoing of the Chinese Exclusion Act is a big plus in my book, and all his work for social reforms. The only smudge on his record is that stolen election. Supposed election fraud has haunted other presidents such as John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush. Hayes’ election takes the cake, for it was outright stealing. Thanks to that deal, Reconstruction ended with the pulling out of Federal troops in the south. Like I said, though he didn’t mean it, the early end came at a terrible price for African Americans.