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Fundamental Documents of Ohio







1868 - 1872, 1876- 1877

The spirited gubernatorial campaign in 1867 was launched with a lengthy keynote address, "Union and Liberty," delivered at Lebanon on August 5 by the Union Republican candidate, Rutherford Birchard Hayes of Cincinnati, lawyer and soldier, then serving his second term in congress. The Democratic candidate was Allen G. Thurman of Chillicothe and Columbus, former congressman and chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, who was to become a United States Senator and a member of the electoral commission which in 1877 would seat Hayes as president of the United States.

"The campaign was fought over the question of Negro suffrage" and was carried to all parts of the state by both candidates. It attracted national attention. Between August and the election in October, Hayes delivered eighty-one speeches to his opponent's seventy-one, it was said. Hayes won the election by a majority of only 2,983 votes. His "personal popularity, and his wonderful resources," when called upon, "carried him far ahead of the vote of his party," and the legislature chosen was Democratic.

The first term of two years for Governor Hayes met with general approval, and in 1869 his party renominated him by acclamation to run against George H. Pendleton of Cincinnati, lawyer, state senator, con- gressman, and subsequently United States Senator and minister to Germany. The election gave Governor Hayes a majority of 7,500 votes over Pendleton.

After his second term as governor ended in 1872, Hayes preferred to remain out of politics. But his party nominated him for congress from the second district of Cincinnati. His opponent was General H. B. Banning of Mount Vernon and Cincinnati. The election went heavily against the Republicans in Hamilton County, and, though Hayes led his ticket by a thousand votes, he was defeated.

On June 2, 1875, much against his personal wishes, the Republicans selected Hayes for the third time as their candidate for governor. His opponent was William Allen of Chillicothe, a former congressman who was then governor of Ohio. Allen had been nominated by the Democrats for "re-election by acclamation, and the tendencies of the times were favorable to his continuance in office, but, after a contest which aroused an interest not only throughout the United States, but in Europe," Hayes became Ohio's first governor to be elected to a third term.

The activities of Hayes as governor of Ohio during his three terms included establishing the Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home at Xenia; enlarging the powers of the state board of charities; founding the Agricultural and Mechanical College which in 1878 became the Ohio State University; securing minority representation on election boards; and carrying out a program of systematic reduction of the state debt. Also during his governorship the state ratified the fifteenth amendment to the United States Constitution, insuring the vote to all men regardless of race or color.

An active state geological survey program was pushed by Governor Hayes which resulted in numerous reports and geological maps. Hayes believed that "the future growth of Ohio, in wealth and population," would depend largely "on the development of the mining and manu- facturing resources of the state." Other of his accomplishments were to add several hundred letters and other manuscripts of various sorts connected with the early history of the state to the collections in the Ohio State Library; to obtain paintings of the portraits of all the governors of the state and of several other distinguished citizens; to purchase a full set of casts of the pottery of the moundbuilder Indians; and to erect a Lincoln and soldiers' memorial in the rotunda of the statehouse.

Governor Hayes also directed public attention to the evils of excessive legislation; to the chaos resulting from the practically unlimited powers then possessed by local authorities to make expenditures and to levy taxes; and to the importance of prohibiting all public debts except those required in time of war or to suppress insurrection or rebellion.

Rutherford B. Hayes was born in Delaware, Ohio, on October 4, 1822, and was educated in the district schools at Delaware; at Norwalk Seminary, Norwalk, Ohio; at Isaac Webb's Maple Grove Academy, Middletown, Connecticut; at Kenyon College; and at the Harvard Law School. He began the practice of law in Lower Sandusky, now Fremont, Ohio, in 1845, where he formed a partnership with Ralph P. Buckland. In 1849 he removed to Cincinnati, then the largest city in the West, to practice law alone for a time. In 1854 he entered into a partnership with William K. Rogers and Richard M. Corwine, which was dissolved in 1858 when he became city solicitor. He was married on December 30, 1852, to Lucy Webb of Chillicothe, a graduate of the Wesleyan Women's College, Cincinnati, by whom he had six children.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Hayes volunteered as a major in the 23d Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, serving four years as lieutenant colonel, colonel, and brigadier general, in West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. He was wounded four times, once severely in the left arm, at the Battle of South Mountain.

Resigning from the army on June 9, 1865, with the rank of brevet major general of volunteers, Hayes went to Washington as a Republican congressman from the second district of Ohio, a post to which he had been elected while still in the field. When party managers had asked him in 1864 to campaign, he had answered: "An officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer for a seat in Congress ought to be scalped."

The years between 1872 and 1875 were the only years Governor Hayes was not in public service since he had entered politics in 1858. These years he devoted to improving his Spiegel Grove estate in Fremont, which had been bequeathed to him by his uncle, Sardis Birchard; to the founding of Birchard Public Library in Fremont; and to the development of his properties in Ohio, Minnesota, and elsewhere.

Governor Hayes served but one year of his third term. He was nominated for president by the Republican party on the seventh ballot at the convention held in Cincinnati in June 1876. The Democratic candidate was Samuel J. Tilden, governor of New York. The Republican and Democratic parties waged a vigorous campaign, in which neither candidate took an active part, and the election was close and contested. It was necessary for congress to establish an electoral commission in order to determine the result, and on March 2, 1877, the commission reached a decision in favor of Hayes.

As president the former Ohio governor was guided by the slogan which he had adopted: "He serves his party best who serves his country best." He sought the unification and pacification of the nation, which had been divided for years by the Civil War, by withdrawing troops from occupation duty in the South; he advocated a sound currency; he reformed the civil service by placing merit before political expediency; he developed an Indian policy founded on peace and justice; and in foreign relations he followed a firm but peaceful course, advocating arbitration of disputes between nations.

When President Hayes left the White House after serving only the one term he had agreed upon, he returned to his Spiegel Grove home in Fremont. As a private citizen he became actively engaged in promoting the causes of general and Negro education, prison reform, veterans' affairs, and many other worthy causes for the public good.

Mrs. Hayes died suddenly on June 25, 1889, from a stroke; and he died after an illness of only three days, on the morning of January 17, 1893. Both are buried on a quiet, wooded knoll in Spiegel Grove, now a state memorial. The Hayes Memorial Library


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