Rutherford B. Hayes Essays

Rutherford B. Hayes Essays

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	 Rutherford B. Hayes was considered by many to be a simple, uncontroversial, and honest man to run for the presidency. That is why many people are perplexed that such an astute person should have one of the most controversial elections and presidencies ever. Considering Hayes’ honorable principles, it came as a surprise to see how he could unknowingly make a decision about reconstruction where its effects were so blatantly derogatory to the cause he was trying to help.

	The controversy began when he was merely running for office. Hayes was running against Democrat Samuel J. Tilden. When the ballots were tallied in 1876, Hayes clearly lost the popular vote, and had lost the electoral vote 184 to 165 . However, twenty votes in Oregon, South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana were disputed due to the protest that blacks were not given the equal chance to go to the polls and vote. Congress created and electoral commission, which carefully decided that Hayes would receive all twenty votes. Facing the possibility that the country would be left without a president, both parties were considering taking the office by force. In spite of all the conflict, a deal was finally struck. Republicans made a secret deal with Democrats in congress, who agreed not to dispute the Hayes victory in exchange for a promise to withdraw federal troops from the south and end reconstruction . Hayes made good on the deal. He swiftly ended Reconstruction and pulled federal troops out of the last two occupied states, South Carolina and Louisiana . During the brief period of radical reconstruction the negro enjoyed both civil and political rights.

	This political bargain contained three generally recognized parts: 1) The north would keep hands off the ‘negro problem’. 2) The rules governing race relations in the South would be written by whites. 3) These rules would concede the negro limited civil rights, but neither social nor political equality (page 787) . It is clear, however, that by 1876-77, a majority of white Americans were weary of continuing to battle southern retaliation to the reconstruction, especially when there appeared some possibility that the South was ready to give more than lip service to the rights promised by the Civil War Amendments. This bargain quickly caused an uproar by its opponents. Democrat William Clay said, "Instead of withdrawing...

... middle of paper ... out his southern policy very clearly. He wanted to eliminate political acts of violence against blacks. He insisted, and believed, that white southerners would adhere to the tenets of the Civil War Amendments. He insisted that the federal government had a responsibility to provide aid for education and public improvements. He also believed it was essential that honest government by educated citizens be restored in the south. His theory was that this kind of government could be achieved by insuring that blacks get an education so they can participate intelligently in the elections. His ideal of having educated blacks was quite strong. Hayes said, "securing peace, prosperity, and the protection of human rights require education. As long as any considerable numbers of our countrymen are uneducated, the citizenship of every American in every state is impaired".

There are many proofs that President Hayes had good intentions when making the policy to end reconstruction. His goal was to help the black man gain and maintain civil rights. Although he couldn’t foresee at the time, ending reconstruction was a decision that rapidly decelerated the black man’s race for equality.

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