Rutherford B. Hayes's Presidency Questions and Answers

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How did Rutherford B. Hayes perform in office as president?

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In general, historians feel that President Rutherford B. Hayes performed fairly well in office.  His presidency was hampered by the way in which he was elected.  However, he is generally said to have done as well as he could have in the circumstances.

Hayes was elected in 1876.  This was a bitterly disputed election that was only settled by the “Compromise of 1877.”  This compromise put Hayes in office in exchange for ending Reconstruction.  Many felt that this compromise was in some way corrupt and that Hayes did not really deserve to be in office.  This led to Hayes declaring early on that he would not seek a second term in office.

While in office, though, Hayes performed rather well.  He came into office at a time when the federal government had suffered through a number of scandals.  Hayes ensured that this did not happen during this term.  Perhaps the best example of this is how Hayes worked hard to prevent officials in US customs houses from being appointed based on political patronage.  Hayes tried to have those offices, and others, filled on the basis of merit.  

Thus, Hayes is generally seen as having been a well-intentioned and competent president, even if he did not accomplish very much due to the circumstances in which he was elected.

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