Rutherford B. Hayes's Presidency

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Did people feel differently about Rutherford B. Hayes before, during, or after he was in office?

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Before Hayes officially took office in 1877, he was accused of corruption. Hayes did not win enough electoral votes in 1876 to win the presidency outright, so the election went to the House of Representatives. Samuel Tilden, his Democratic challenger, won the popular vote, but there were accusations of voter fraud in Louisiana and Florida. In what would become known as the Compromise of 1877, Hayes gained the presidency and military Reconstruction ended in the South. Many Democrats felt cheated and referred to him as "Ruther-fraud" B. Hayes.

Hayes's presidency was well-received by his contemporaries. Hayes broke up the Railroad Strike of 1877 when he called out troops to ensure that trains still ran on time. He also pushed Native American acculturation instead of a war of annihilation on the Plains. Hayes also maintained the gold standard, which allowed more capital to flow into the United States. Most importantly, Hayes successfully presided over a United States that was still reeling from the Civil War.

Later historians judge Hayes by the standards of their own times. Hayes negotiated a treaty limiting Chinese immigration. Hayes put the interests of labor aside when he called out the troops to end the railroad strike. Hayes's presidency saw continued corruption in the reservation system. Hayes also did nothing for civil service reform—that would take place under the Arthur administration. While Hayes was not a progressive Republican, one can argue that the times would not support a progressive Republican. While there was a growing gap between the rich and the poor in the United States, many did not view it as government's job to fix this situation. Many of those actions which are immoral by today's standards had widespread support from voters at the time.

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