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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful brief biography of Rutherford B. Hayes
President Rutherford (called "Rud" by friends) is best known, probably, for being a (as his opponents put it) fraudulent president." Of course, this refers to (a) his becoming president while being whipped in the national popular vote and (b) the process by which a couple contested southern states (perhaps ironic given the 2000 contested presidential election, Florida)...
Published on April 19, 2008 by Steven A. Peterson

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More, Please
A quick read, "Rutherford B. Hayes" touches all the highlights of Hayes�s interesting and varied career. The book draws from the usual sources: Ari Hoogenboom�s and Harry Barnard�s 20th century biographies, Watt Marchman�s work and Hayes�s own extensive diaries and correspondence. It draws to a lesser extent from newspaper accounts and...
Published on November 30, 2002 by David D. Platt


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More, Please, November 30, 2002
By 
David D. Platt (Yarmouth, ME USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rutherford B. Hayes (Hardcover)
A quick read, "Rutherford B. Hayes" touches all the highlights of Hayes�s interesting and varied career. The book draws from the usual sources: Ari Hoogenboom�s and Harry Barnard�s 20th century biographies, Watt Marchman�s work and Hayes�s own extensive diaries and correspondence. It draws to a lesser extent from newspaper accounts and editorials of Hayes�s day, particularly those concerning his political campaigns.
What the book doesn�t do is provide new insight into Hayes himself: arguably the best-educated man ever elected to the presidency, someone who successfully navigated the treacherous political seas of the four decades that began just before the Civil War and ended with the election of McKinley a few years after Hayes�s death in 1893. Hayes�s interests in civil-service reform, literacy, equal rights for blacks, education, technology, penal reform and the establishment of facilities for the insane are all mentioned, but we get little more. His Civil War career (Hayes was in the thick of several battles, was wounded and eventually received a battlefield commission as a major general) merits somewhat more attention, but even that tends to go by in the writer�s apparent rush to finish his story.
Hayes�s post-White House service to the Slater Fund, a 19th century foundation that did much to advance the education of freed slaves, merits a only few lines.
At two points in his narrative the author points out the similarities between Hayes�s situation in the disputed 1877 election and the election of 2000, but he does so in such brief fashion as to suggest he added them at the last minute, perhaps at the urging of an editor. Again, what we don�t get at these points is any insight into the significance of these elections and their outcome, either constitutionally or in terms of the workings of the political system.
Repeatedly, I found myself thinking I was reading a term paper, based on secondary sources. It�s not in a class with three other biographies I�ve read recently: David McCulloch�s "John Adams," David Michaelis�s "N.C. Wyeth," and Edmund Morris�s "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt." Interestingly, each of these books chronicles the life of a compulsive diarist and letter-writer who became prominent in his own lifetime. Hayes had a similar compulsion, keeping a diary from his college days at Kenyon in the late 1830s until his death in 1893. Thousands of published and un-published letters he wrote are still in existence as well. They are available to scholars and could provide the basis for a thorough examination of Hayes�s life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Satisfactory short biography of Rutherford B. Hayes, November 18, 2007
This review is from: Rutherford B. Hayes (Hardcover)
I am currently reading a biography of every President. This is the first time I have selected one of the short biographies from the American President series. These biographies are very short, this particular one being 150 pages of text, made even shorter by the relatively small amount of text on each page - I would estimate roughly 2/3 the length of text compared to an "average" book. It is certainly more than manageable to read this book in one sitting.

I was somewhat disappointed by the brevity of the book, which was even more pronounced than I expected. I will, however, review the book based upon its intention, and it was certainly not intended to be a comprehensive biography. The book does manage to present a full biographical sketch of Hayes with an acceptable overview of the issues in his Presidency. Trefousse's writing is straightforward although quite dry and he is overly concerned with comparing the 1876 and 2000 elections in an unsuccessful attempt to give the book a modern connection. Trefousse seems to approach his subject with about the same enthusiasm as a high school history student writing a term paper. The biggest shortcoming of the book however is not the lack of information but its inability to give the reader a true sense of Rutherford B. Hayes, the man.

Ultimately, this book is barely satisfactory and I believe many readers will desire the more in depth biographies of either Ari Higenboom or Harry Barnard - I know I will probably go back and read one of these at some point. This book does, however, fill a need for a modern short biography of our 19th President and is recommendable in that capacity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, I agree, September 16, 2006
This review is from: Rutherford B. Hayes (Hardcover)
I enjoyed how Trefousse provided alot of insight into the type of person Hayes was. But, he didn't spend enough time on what the administration was like. Also, the author was very repetitive and seemed to be writing as if his audience would be high schoolers. It seemed a little dumbed down from other titles in this biographical series.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful brief biography of Rutherford B. Hayes, April 19, 2008
By 
Steven A. Peterson (Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rutherford B. Hayes (Hardcover)
President Rutherford (called "Rud" by friends) is best known, probably, for being a (as his opponents put it) fraudulent president." Of course, this refers to (a) his becoming president while being whipped in the national popular vote and (b) the process by which a couple contested southern states (perhaps ironic given the 2000 contested presidential election, Florida) had their electoral votes assigned to Hayes.

But what else do most people know about Hayes? Probably not much. And this slender volume, another in the series "The American Presidents" (edited by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.), can remedy that ignorance.

Hayes was born in Vermont and ended up moving to Ohio while still young. He went to college at Kenyon and then studies law at Harvard. Politically, he became a Whig until the party began imploding, whereupon he joined the new Republican Party. When the Civil War began, he volunteered for service and had a career of which he was justly proud. He rose through the ranks and fought ably in West Virginia and with the Army of the Potomac. As the war closed, his political career began with a vengeance. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives.

The book continues with his political ascent, from Congressman to Governor of Ohio and to the Republican nomination for President in 1876 (with a handful of defeats, by the way, scattered in between). There were a whole series of contenders for the nomination, and Hayes' eventual nomination occurred because none of the major players could get enough delegates to be nominated, and Hayes was settled upon as the party's choice. Then, of course, his contested victory. The book does an excellent job dissecting what actually happened, and the interpretation is different from the standard view.

As President, one of his first actions was beginning to remove federal troops from the South while trying to assure that recently freed slaves would retain their rights. It appears that he naively thought that southern leaders would actually live up to their promises to maintain the rights of freed slaves. The book does a good job outlining his accomplishments (adequate but not earth shaking) as well as his travails (intraparty disputes, gridlock with Congress, and so on). Apparently, he was perceived as honest and just, even by many opponents. Assessment? The author notes (Page 129): "What did Hayes contribute to the presidency? His biographers have generally credited him with unifying the country, though faulting him for not succeeding in safeguarding blacks' rights."

Then, his post-presidential career is outlined.

This is another in a fine series of books. The thought dawns on me as I am reading books in this series that very few 19th century presidents really stood out and were transformational. I knew that intellectually, but reading these biographies emphasizes the point. Anyway, a good addition to the series and well worth reading if you wish to learn more about American presidents.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Leaves a lot to to be desired, January 1, 2007
This review is from: Rutherford B. Hayes (Hardcover)
This book does a good job of outlining President Hayes life but it falls short in other areas. It does not give a sense of the country and how Hayes affected it. It suffers from being far too brief and does not even hit all of the highlights in his life. For those who want to get a sense of the president that is about all this can be used for. If you are looking for something that gives you information on the corrupt bargain or the start of the Gilded Age this book falls short.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid if brief biography of a lesser known president, January 16, 2005
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This review is from: Rutherford B. Hayes (Hardcover)
This brief biography of Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th president of the United States both benefits and suffers from being part of a series. The series is, of course, The American Presidents, under the editorship of Arthur M Schlesinger Jr. The aim of the series is to provide a brief biography of the presidents of the United States. Personally, I am finding this series to be very helpful on the lesser presidents like Hayes, but less helpful for presidents like Teddy Roosevelt, who has been written about quite extensively.

Rutherford B. Hayes is a perfect subject for one of these brief biographies. Unless for some reason one wants to delve especially deep into Hayes's life, he is not one of the foremost presidents, and therefore not someone a great number of people want to spend a great deal of time studying. As Trefousse shows, he had some substantive achievements in his administration, including ending Reconstruction and the beginning of civil service reform. Moreover, he emerges as a likeable and admirable individual, as a person who did the office of president a great service. The book also is somewhat guilty of minimizing Hayes weaknesses as a president. However, Trefousse was not able to convince me that he is one of the pivotal figures in American history, and while I can't rule out going on to read another biography of Hayes at some point, I feel that 150 pages on Hayes was just about right.

One thing that bothered me a bit in the book was Trefousse's attempt to stress parallels between Hayes's election and that of 2000. In both instances, the election was extremely close, with the loser winning more of the popular vote but losing on the electoral votes, with Florida playing a key role each time. The instances, however, are nonparallel in a number of other ways. In 1876 Hayes, the winner, was deprived of a vast number of black votes by Southerners harassing blacks as they attempted to vote, so that he probably would have won the popular vote as well as the electoral. In 2000, tens of thousands of black voters were illegally (in the strict since, for the Ashcroft Justice Department later ruled that the Civil Rights of black voters had been interfered with in the voter purge, not that it will reverse the outcome of the election) from the list of registered voters, depriving Gore of tens of thousands of votes. Also, although both Hayes and Bush became president of a deeply divided nation, Hayes worked very hard to unify the nation, while Bush has increased the division since being named president by the Supreme Court.

Still, I do recommend this biography. It is likely to be all that one would need on Hayes. I do not think it is as strong as some of the other books I have read in the same series, for instance Garry Wills's superb little book on Madison or Remini's surprisingly good biography of John Quincy Adams (surprising because Remini is the foremost biographer of Jackson, and he and Adams were bitter political rivals).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A middling president, March 28, 2005
This review is from: Rutherford B. Hayes (Hardcover)
If not for one thing, Rutherford B. Hayes would be an entirely forgettable president, part of the pantheon of minor executives from John Tyler to Millard Fillmore to Benjamin Harrison. The one thing that makes Hayes stand out is the controversial way he was elected, a controversy we were reminded of in recent years due to the 2000 election.

In the history of the Presidency, there have actually been four questionable elections. In 1800 and 1824, the elections were thrown to the House where wheeling and dealing overrode democratic principles. In 1876, as in 2000, the doubts arose in the counting of certain votes and with the disenfranchisement of blacks in the South. In Hayes vs. Tilden, the iffiness was more-or-less resolved by a committee that was slightly skewed in favor of the Republican Hayes; this slight edge was all he needed.

Hayes, like Bush, would have the legitimacy of his Presidency questioned. Bush would be able to affirm his rights to the office by winning a second term; Hayes, however, opted for retirement, and would justify his Presidency by his actions, the belief that he would have won in a fair election and his being succeeded by a politically similar James Garfield. As a President, he was honest and reasonably competent, but did little of historical distinction.

Hans Trefousse's biography is similarly honest and competent but of no great distinction. Unlike many volumes of the American Presidents Series, Trefousse provides a full (if brief) biography as opposed to focusing solely on Hayes's Presidency. Indeed, Hayes's single term occupies only around a third of the book. The principal virtue of this book is that - as probably the first Hayes biography of the century - it offers a comparison to the 2000 election that previous biographies could not have had. Overall, this is a decently written book that gives some insight into an obscure President.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Our 19th President., August 27, 2007
By 
Kevin M Quigg (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rutherford B. Hayes (Hardcover)
Despite what some have said of old Rutherford, he probably wasn't our worst president. In fact, if he had been elected in 2000, his compromising approach would have went a long way in meeting the opposition. As it was, his contested election was in 1876, and it polarized the country again between North and South. However, his compromising attitute healed the wounds of the Civil War and Reconstruction. This was at the expense of black civil rights.

I thought the author Trefousse did a good job of detailing Hayes life. Some of the previous reviewers might not be able to distinguish the subject from the author, but I believe Trefousse did a good job of summarizing his subject. The author comes to the same conclusion I have come to. The 1876 election was a flawed election where Democrats disenfranchised the black population in the South and then screamed bloody cheating to those contesting the South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida ballots. Rutherford was not Rutherfraud, but an honest politician trying to make a difference.

An OK read on our 19th President.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Man Called Rud, October 28, 2011
This review is from: Rutherford B. Hayes (Hardcover)
After the Grant administration presided over the country for either years, the Republican Party (despite Grant's many successes) had been tainted by scandal. Within four years, however, the GOP had been restored to solid ground thanks to the Hayes presidency. This book tells the story of how it happened.

I consider this to be a solid entry in the American Presidents series. I learned the requisite Hayes information, and felt as if I understood the man and his times much better upon conclusion. As per the usual, then, this series delivers another compelling Presidential biography for those who don't need all the details.

The only reason I can't give it a full five-stars is because, at times, it gets bogged down in minutia like Civil War battle descriptions and behind-the-scenes politics. Thus, some sections were a little difficult to get through. Not terrible, but trying at times for the casual historian.

Overall, "Rutherford B. Hayes" is another interesting, informative bio of our nation's highest office. Nothing to shy away from here.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Modest accomplishments, December 19, 2007
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This review is from: Rutherford B. Hayes (Hardcover)
Rutherford B. Hayes has always ended up in the middle of presidential ratings, and Hans L. Trefousse's taut biography of our nineteenth president would not move him up or down that list. Trefousse does a good job in assessing President Hayes as a man and as an administrator, though "comprehensive" is not a word used to describe the biographies in this American Presidents' series.

The remarkable ascendency of Hayes to the presidency after the disputed election of 1876 has parallels to the election of 2000, but Trefousse (with an apparent dig at George W. Bush) elevates Hayes by suggesting that Hayes tried to bring together various warring factions while Bush did not. It's a good reflection. Hayes's stellar service during the Civil War, in which the future president was wounded more than once, is covered in great detail by the author. (Because of the quiet nature of the four years Hayes spent in the White House, this book needed some "fleshing out"). We know that Hayes was honest and his administration was largely beneficial to the country. I view his term as something akin to Gerald Ford's...a transitional time where the country needed healing. In fact Hayes's biggest accomplishment was the removal of Federal troops from the South, meaning an end to Reconstruction. That is the chief legacy of the Hayes administration. The president was also big on civil service reform, taken to higher limits by Chester Arthur a few years later. It's a fascinating reminder that Indian affairs still took up some of the President's time, but what is one of the more notable aspects of this book is how often and how much President Hayes traveled while in office and in retirement. He was the first president to visit the West Coast, for example.

Rutherford B. Hayes served adequately and he should be remembered for a solid four years in office, if not much more. There certainly have been worse presidents but Trefousse justifiably gives Hayes credit for some accomplishments and I recommend this book as a good introduction to our nineteenth president.
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Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes by Hans Louis Trefousse (Hardcover - November 5, 2002)
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