- Series: Rural America
- Hardcover: 712 pages
- Publisher: University Press of Kansas; 1st edition (January 27, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0700606416
- ISBN-13: 978-0700606412
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior and President 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
To critics, U.S. president Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893) was an aloof, inept politician, but this revisionist biography limns a pragmatic reformer, supporter of civil rights and precursor of the Progressive movement. As a Cincinnati lawyer, Hayes defended runaway slaves; as a crusading antislavery Civil War colonel, he served bravely and was wounded five times. Three-time Republican governor of Ohio, Hayes secured his state's ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment, guaranteeing the vote to all races. President Hayes has been accused of brutally crushing the Great Strike of 1877, but Hoogenboom, professor of history at the City University of New York, argues that he called out federal troops against striking railway workers only at the behest of state and local authorities. Hayes's abandonment of Reconstruction by withdrawing troops from the South ended a failed policy that had unwittingly polarized politics along racial lines, in Hoogenboom's assessment. Despite Hayes's commitment to equality for all Americans, one is left with the impression that his administration was, at best, merely efficient. Photos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Enlarging his earlier book on Hayes's presidency (The Presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes, Univ. Pr. of Kansas, 1988), historian Hoogenboom casts Hayes as a reformer, an advocate for equal rights, and a masterful politician. From his conversion to an antislavery stance through his law career in Ohio to his military service during the Civil War, Hayes grew in his commitment to human rights. As president of the United States (1877-81), he used the veto and appointive powers in new ways and the bully pulpit to protect freedmen and workers. In his retirement, he lobbied for prison reform, veterans' benefits, and education for the poor. Although the Hayes presented is more prescient and principled than his record of achievement would show, all readers will appreciate Hoogenboom's larger view of the man and his time. Burdensome detail sometimes overwhelms and obscures the argument, but this revision merits attention. For academi libraries.
Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
While the book clearly was intended to resurrect Hayes' modern reputation, it seems to me that a reexamination of his place in history is warranted. Much like James Buchanan, Hayes drew a very tough if not impossible slot in history and is (unfairly in my opinion) usually roundly criticized for ending Reconstruction and effectively abandoning black Americans to the JIm Crow Era for the next century. While he clearly did not succeed in protecting the newly-freed slaves from that tragic fate, the author does a nice job explaining why that just was not possible for Hayes at the time. Maybe Hayes could and should have done better, but I am sympathetic of the circumstances in which he found himself, and why he was unable to pull it off.
At the end of the day, I want to read biographies that are sympathetic to the Presidents they cover. I am not interested in hatchet jobs or judging men of previous times by modern standards. I think that is grossly unfair. I thought the author did a nice job of not being overly worshipful of Hayes, but painting him in a mostly positive light and explaining why he made some of the unpopular and (in hindsight) poor decisions that he made.
I don't believe that any US Presidents have been stupid, cowardly or evil. I think they all tried their best and did the best they could with the knowledge, tools and political support (or lack thereof) and context that they had. I try to give them each the benefit of the doubt. I thought the author of this book took that perespective as well, and I appreciated it.
So now that I'm in the short rows as they say, I'm stuck with reading bios of Presidents like Rutherford B Hayes. I didn't know a thing about him nor did I know a whole lot about what happened during his Presidency... other than it was post Civil War, pre-1900s America. With all that in mind, I must commend the author on writing an interesting and readable bio of a President who it appears is underrated as a person and as a leader.
The book was very thorough and spent a lot of time dealing with key, non-political, issues such as Hayes' tremendous military career and his strong relationship with wife Lucy. It also did a great job of detailing his influence over the Republican party prior to and after his Presidency. I agree with the author who suggested that Hayes' biggest mistake was sticking to his one-term pledge. He would probably be recognized as one of our better Presidents would he have served two terms. His pledge to minimize patronage and reform the civil service was stunted by his successor, James Garfield, who was actually assassinated by a jilted patronage seeker. A lot of what he did was then "undone" by Chet Arthur and the Roscoe Conkling syndicate. Hayes doesn't get a lot of credit because the things he accomplished or put the country on the road to accomplishing weren't "sexy." The author does a great job of detailing his accomplishments and then tells you why they were important.
You could make the case that the author's view of Hayes is slanted toward the positive. I wouldn't argue with that. However, Hayes appears to be a good person who tried to be honest and do what was right in nearly every case. He was a huge proponent of civil rights, suffrage, Indian rights, and other causes that could be deemed as liberal by today's views. The author labels him as one of the first progressives - are you listening Glenn Beck - but to me he seems the first civil libertarian perhaps. He was a person who looked at the merits of each issue and tried to apply the Golden Rule to politics, which was something that was needed after the lackluster Presidency of U.S. Grant and the somewhat criminal Presidency of Andrew Johnson.
Not sure how a President such as Hayes would survive in today's toxic political climate, but the author certainly does a thorough job in painting him as the kind of guy you hope your sister would marry. And, the kind of guy that as an American did his best for all Americans.
I would recommend this biography as THE bio you should read of Hayes. It is long, so be ready for some in depth reading, but for the advanced history buff I think this is an enjoyable and fair read.
Hayes has been criticized for giving up on Reconstruction and thus dooming blacks to a century of repression, but Hayes had genuine concern for blacks. However, by 1877 Hayes was quite limited in what he could do politically to maintain Reconstruction. Hayes was traditionally criticized for doing little to address the growing inequalities of the American economy. But, although he did help put down nation-wide strikes, Hayes was more sympathetic to labor than any other late 19th century president. I was also surprised to read about the extensive post-presidency work of Hayes, comparable to Jimmy Carter.