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Hayes, Rutherford Birchard 1822-1893

Nineteenth President of the United States, from 1877 to 1881; Republican; born in Delaware, O., Oct. 4, 1822; graduated at Kenyon College, O., in 1842, and at the Cambridge Law School in 1845; practised law in Cincinnati until 1861, when he became first major, and then colonel, of the 23d Regiment Ohio Volunteers, first serving in western Virginia. He was wounded in the battle of South Mountain, Md.; and from December, 1862, to September, 1864, commanded the 1st Brigade, Kanawha division. He was appointed brigadier-general in October, 1864, for gallant conduct at Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek. In March, 1865, he was brevetted majorgeneral of volunteers, and in the same year was elected to Congress. In 1867 he was elected governor of Ohio, and in 1869 and 1875 was re-elected. In 1877 he was declared President of the United States by a majority of one in the Electoral College over Samuel J. Tilden (see electoral commission). He died in Fremont, O., Jan. 17, 1893.

March 4, 1877, fell on Sunday. President-elect Hayes was in Washington, the guest of Senator John Sherman. There had been threats made by the opposition of taking forcible possession of the Presidential office, and inaugurating Samuel J. Tilden, the rival candidate for President. It was thought best by the friends of the President-elect not to postpone administering the oath of office to him until Monday, as had been done in other cases when the time for inaugurating a new President fell on Sunday. Mr. Hayes, therefore, took the oath of office privately, in Senator Sherman's house, on Sunday, and on the following day the public inauguration ceremonies were performed at the usual place, on the east front of the Capitol, in the presence of an immense multitude of people. The oath of office was administered by Chief-Justice Waite. See cabinet, President's.

Inaugural Address>head>

In his inaugural address, on March 5, 1877, President Hayes discussed the progress of reconstruction in the Southern States and the operations of the Electoral Commission.

Fellow-Citizens,—We have assembled to repeat the public ceremonial, begun by Washington, observed by all my predecessors, and now a time-honored custom, which marks the commencement of a new term of the Presidential office. Called to the duties of this great trust, I proceed, in compliance with usage, to announce some of the leading principles, on the subjects that now chiefly engage the public attention, by which it is my desire to be guided in the discharge of those duties. I shall not undertake to lay down irrevocably principles or measures of administration, but rather to speak of the motives which should animate us, and to suggest certain important ends to be attained in accordance with our institutions and essential to the welfare of our country. At the outset of the discussions which preceded the recent Presidential election it seemed to me fitting that I should fully make known my sentiments in regard to several of the important questions which then appeared to demand the consideration of the country. Following the example, and in part adopting the language, of one of my predecessors, I wish now, when every motive for misrepresentation has passed away, to repeat what was said before the election, trusting that my countrymen will candidly weigh and understand it, and that they will feel assured [333] that the sentiments declared in accepting the nomination for the Presidency will be the standard of my conduct in the path before me, charged, as I am now, with the grave and difficult task of carrying them out in the practical administration of the government so far as depends, under the Constitution and laws, on the chief executive of the nation.

The permanent pacification of the country upon such principles and by such measures as will secure the complete protection of all its citizens in the free enjoyment of all their constitutional rights is now the one subject in our public affairs which all thoughtful and patriotic citizens regard as of supreme importance.

Many of the calamitous effects of the tremendous revolution which has passed over the Southern States still remain. The immeasurable benefits which will surely follow, sooner or later, the hearty and generous acceptance of the legitimate results of that revolution have not yet been realized. Difficult and embarrassing questions meet us at the threshold of this subject. The people of those States are still impoverished, and the inestimable blessing of wise, honest, and peaceful local self-government is not fully enjoyed. Whatever difference of opinion may exist as to the cause of this condition of things, the fact is clear that in the progress of events the time has come when such government is the imperative necessity required by all the varied interests, public and private, of those States. But it must not be forgotten that only a local government which recognizes and maintains inviolate the rights of all is a true selfgovernment.

With respect to the two distinct races whose peculiar relations to each other have brought upon us the deplorable complications and perplexities which exist in those States it must be a government which guards the interests of both races carefully and equally. It must be a government which submits loyally and heartily to the Constitution and the laws of the nation and the laws of the States themselves—accepting and obeying faithfully the whole Constitution as it is.

Resting upon this sure and substantial foundation, the superstructure of beneficent local governments can be built up, and not otherwise. In furtherance of such obedience to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, and in behalf of all that its attainment implies, all so-called party interests lose their apparent importance, and party lines may well be permitted to fade into insignificance. The question we have to consider for the immediate welfare of those States of the Union is the question of government or no government; of social order and all the peaceful industries and the happiness that belongs to it, or a return to barbarism. It is a question in which every citizen of the nation is deeply interested, and with respect to which we ought not to be, in a partisan sense, either Republicans or Democrats, but fellow-citizens and fellowmen, to whom the interests of a common country and a common humanity are dear.

The sweeping revolution of the entire labor system of a large portion of our country and the advance of 4,000,000 people from a condition of servitude to that of citizenship, upon an equal footing with their former masters, could not occur without presenting problems of the gravest moment, to be dealt with by the emancipated race, by their former masters, and by the general government, the author of the act of emancipation. That it was a wise, just, and providential act, fraught with good for all concerned, is now generally conceded throughout the country. That a moral obligation rests upon the national government to employ its constitutional power and influence to establish the rights of the people it has emancipated, and to protect them in the enjoyment of those rights when they are infringed or assailed, is also generally admitted.

The evils which afflict the Southern States can only be removed or remedied by the united and harmonious efforts of both races, actuated by motives of mutual sympathy and regard; and while in duty bound and fully determined to protect the rights of all by every constitutional means at the disposal of my administration, I am sincerely anxious to use every legitimate influence in favor of honest and efficient local self-government as the true resource of those States for the promotion of the contentment and prosperity of their citizens. In the effort I shall make to accomplish this purpose I ask the cordial [334] co-operation of all who may cherish an interest in the welfare of the country, trusting that party ties and the prejudice of race will be freely surrendered in behalf of the great purpose to be accomplished. In the important work of restoring the South it is not the political situation alone that merits attention. The material development of that section of the country has been arrested by the social and political revolution through which it has passed, and now needs and deserves the considerate care of the national government within the just limits prescribed by the Constitution and wise public economy.

But at the basis of all prosperity for that, as well as for every other part of the country, lies the improvement of the intellectual and moral condition of the people. Universal suffrage should rest upon universal education. To this end, liberal and permanent provision should be made for the support of free schools by the State governments, and, if need be, supplemented by legitimate aid from national authority.

Let me assure my countrymen of the Southern States that it is my earnest desire to regard and promote their truest interests—the interest of the white and of the colored people both and equally— and to put forth my best efforts in behalf of a civil policy which will forever wipe out in our political affairs the color line and the distinction between North and South, to the end that we may have not merely a united North or a united South, but a united country.

I ask the attention of the public to the paramount necessity of reform in our civil service—a reform not merely as to certain abuses and practices of so-called official patronage which have come to have the sanction of usage in the several departments of our government, but a change in the system of appointment itself; a reform that shall be thorough, radical, and complete; a return to the principles and practices of the founders of the government. They neither expected nor desired from public officers any partisan service. They meant that public officers should owe their whole service to the government and to the people. They meant that the officer should be secure in his tenure as long as his personal character remained untarnished and the performance of his duties satisfactory. They held that appointments to office were not to be made nor expected merely as rewards for partisan services, nor merely on the nomination of members of Congress, as being entitled in any respect to the control of such appointments.

The fact that both the great political parties of the country, in declaring their principles prior to the election, gave a prominent place to the subject of reform of our civil service, recognizing and strongly urging its necessity, in terms almost identical in their specific import with those I have here employed, must be accepted as a conclusive argument in behalf of these measures. It must be regarded as the expression of the united voice and will of the whole country upon, this subject, and both political parties are virtually pledged to give it their unreserved support.

The President of the United States of necessity owes his election to office to the suffrage and zealous labors of a political party, the members of which cherish with ardor and regard as of essential importance the principles of their party organization; but he should strive to be always mindful of the fact that he serves his party best who serves the country best.

In furtherance of the reform we seek, and in other important respects a change of great importance, I recommend an amendment to the Constitution prescribing a term of six years for the Presidential office, and forbidding a re-election.

With respect to the financial condition of the country, I shall not attempt an extended history of the embarrassment and prostration which we have suffered during the past three years. The depression in all our varied commercial and manufacturing interests throughout the country, which began in September, 1873, still continues. It is very gratifying, however, to be able to say that there are indications all around us of a coming change to prosperous times.

Upon the currency question, intimately connected, as it is, with this topic, I may be permitted to repeat here the statement made in my letter of acceptance, that, in my judgment, the feeling of uncertainty [335] inseparable from an irredeemable paper currency, with its fluctuation of values, is one of the greatest obstacles to a return to prosperous times. The only safe paper currency is one which rests upon a coin basis and is at all times and promptly convertible into coin.

I adhere to the views heretofore expressed by me in favor of congressional legislation in behalf of an early resumption of specie payments, and I am satisfied not only that this is wise, but that the interests, as well as the public sentiment, of the country imperatively demand it.

Passing from these remarks upon the condition of our own country to consider our relations with other lands, we are reminded by the international complications abroad, threatening the peace of Europe, that our traditional rule of non-interference in the affairs of foreign nations has proved of great value in past times and ought to be strictly observed.

The policy inaugurated by my honored predecessor, President Grant, of submitting to arbitration grave questions in dispute between ourselves and foreign powers, points to a new, and incomparably the best, instrumentality for the preservation of peace, and will, as I believe, become a beneficent example of the course to be pursued in similar emergencies by other nations.

If, unhappily, questions of difference should at any time during the period of my administration arise between the United States and any foreign government, it will certainly be my disposition and my hope to aid in their settlement in the same peaceful and honorable way, thus securing to our country the great blessings of peace and mutual good offices with all the nations of the world.

Fellow-citizens, we have reached the close of a political contest marked by the excitement which usually attends the contests between great political parties whose members espouse and advocate with earnest faith their respective creeds. The circumstances were, perhaps, in no respect extraordinary save in the closeness and the consequent uncertainty of the result.

For the first time in the history of the country it has been deemed best, in view of the peculiar circumstances of the case, that the objections and questions in dispute with reference to the counting of the electoral votes should be referred to the decision of a tribunal appointed for this purpose.

That tribunal—established by law for this sole purpose; its members, all of them, men of long-established reputation for integrity and intelligence, and, with the exception of those who are also members of the supreme judiciary, chosen equally from both political parties; its deliberations enlightened by the research and the arguments of able counsel—was entitled to the fullest confidence of the American people. Its decisions have been patiently waited for, and accepted as legally conclusive by the general judgment of the people. For the present, opinion will widely vary as to the wisdom of the several conclusions announced by that tribunal. This is to be anticipated in every instance where matters of dispute are made the subject of arbitration under the forms of law. Human judgment is never unerring, and is rarely regarded as otherwise than wrong by the unsuccessful party in the contest.

The fact that two great political parties have in this way settled a dispute in regard to which good men differ as to the facts and the law no less than to the proper course to be pursued in solving the question in controversy is an occasion for general rejoicing.

Upon one point there is entire unanimity in public sentiment—that conflicting claims to the Presidency must be amicably and peaceably adjusted, and that when so adjusted the general acquiescence of the nation ought surely to follow.

It has been reserved for a government of the people, where the right of suffrage is universal, to give to the world the first example in history of a great nation, in the midst of the struggle of opposing parties for power, hushing its party tumults to yield the issue of the contest to adjustment according to the forms of law.

Looking for the guidance of that Divine Hand by which the destinies of nations and individuals are shaped, I call upon you, Senators, Representatives, judges, fellow-citizens, here and everywhere, to unite with me in an earnest effort to secure to our country the blessings, not only of [336] material prosperity, but of justice, peace, and union—a union depending not upon the constraint of force, but upon the loving devotion of a free people; “and that all things may be so ordered and settled upon the best and surest foundations that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, may be established among us for all generations.”

Military interference at elections.

On May 12, 1879, President Hayes sent the following veto message to the Congress:

To the House of Representatives,—After a careful consideration of the bill entitled “An act to prohibit military interference at elections,” I return it to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, with the following objections to its approval:

In the communication sent to the House of Representatives on the 29th of last month, returning to the House without my approval the bill entitled “An act making appropriations for the support of the army for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1880, and for other purposes,” I endeavored to show, by quotations from the statutes of the United States now in force, and by a brief statement of facts in regard to recent elections in the several States, that no additional legislation was necessary to prevent interference with the elections by the military or naval forces of the United States. The fact was presented in that communication that at the time of the passage of the act of June 18, 1878, in relation to the employment of the army as a posse comitatus or otherwise, it was maintained by its friends that it would establish a vital and fundamental principle which would secure to the people protection against a standing army. The fact was also referred to that, since the passage of this act, congressional, State, and municipal elections have been held throughout the Union, and that in no instance has complaint been made of the presence of United States soldiers at the polls.

Holding, as I do, the opinion that any military interference whatever at the polls is contrary to the spirit of our institutions and would tend to destroy the freedom of elections, and sincerely desiring to concur with Congress in all of its measures, it is with very great regret that I am forced to the conclusion that the bill before me is not only unnecessary to prevent such interference, but is a dangerous departure from long-settled and important constitutional principles.

The true rule as to the employment of military force at the elections is not doubtful. No intimidation or coercion should be allowed to control or influence citizens in the exercise of their right to vote, whether it appears in the shape of combinations of evil-disposed persons, or of armed bodies of the militia of a State, or of the military force of the United States.

The elections should be free from all forcible interference, and, as far as practicable, from all apprehensions of such interference. No soldiers, either of the Union or of the State militia, should be present at the polls to take the place or to perform the duties of the ordinary civil police force. There has been and will be no violation of this rule under orders from me during this administration; but there should be no denial of the right of the national government to employ its military force on any day and at any place in case such employment is necessary to enforce the Constitution and laws of the United States.

The bill before me is as follows:

Be it enacted, etc., that it shall not be lawful to bring to or employ at any place where a general or special election is being held in a State any part of the army or navy of the United States, unless such force be necessary to repel the armed enemies of the United States or to enforce section 4, article IV., of the Constitution of the United States and the laws made in pursuance thereof, on application of the legislature or executive of the State where such force is to be used; and so much of all laws as is inconsistent herewith is hereby repealed.”

It will be observed that the bill exempts from the general prohibition against the employment of military force at the polls two specified cases. These exceptions recognize and concede the soundness of the principle that military force may properly and constitutionally be used at the place of elections when such use is necessary to enforce the Constitution and the laws; but the excepted cases leave the [337] prohibition so extensive and far-reaching that its adoption will seriously impair the efficiency of the executive department of the government.

The first act expressly authorizing the use of military power to execute the laws was passed almost as early as the organization of the government under the Constitution, and was approved by President Washington, May 2, 1792. It is as follows:

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, that whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed or the execution thereof obstructed in any State by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings or by the powers vested in the marshals by this act, the same being notified to the President of the United States by an associate justice or the district judge, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia of such State to suppress such combinations and to cause the laws to be duly executed. And if the militia of a State where such combination may happen shall refuse or be insufficient to suppress the same, it shall be lawful for the President, if the legislature of the United States be not in session, to call forth and employ such numbers of the militia of any other State or States most convenient thereto as may be necessary; and the use of militia so to be called forth may be continued, if necessary, until the expiration of thirty days after the commencement of the ensuing session.

In 1795 this provision was substantially re-enacted in a law which repealed the act of 1792. In 1807 the following act became the law, by the approval of President Jefferson:

That in all cases of insurrection or obstruction to the laws, either of the United States or of any individual State or Territory, where it is lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia for the purpose of suppressing such insurrection or of causing the laws to be duly executed, it shall be lawful for him to employ for the same purposes such part of the land or naval force of the United States as shall be judged necessary, having first observed all the prerequisites of the law in that respect.

By this act it will be seen that the scope of the law of 1795 was extended so as to authorize the national government to use not only the militia, but the army and navy of the United States, in “causing the laws to be executed.”

The important provision of the acts of 1792, 1795, and 1807, modified in its terms from time to time to adapt it to the existing emergency, remained in force until, by an act approved by President Lincoln, July 29, 1861, it was re-enacted substantially in the same language in which it is now found in the Revised statutes, viz.:

Sec. 5,298. Whenever, by reason of unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages of persons, or rebellion against the authority of the government of the United States, it shall become impracticable, in the judgment of the President, to enforce by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings the laws of the United States within any State or Territory, it shall be lawful for the President to call forth the militia of any or all the States and to employ such parts of the land and naval forces of the United States as he may deem necessary to enforce the faithful execution of the laws of the United States or to suppress such rebellion, in whatever State or Territory thereof the laws of the United States may be forcibly opposed or the execution thereof forcibly obstructed.

This ancient and fundamental law has been in force from the foundation of the government. It is now proposed to abrogate it on certain days and at certain places. In my judgment no fact has been produced which tends to show that it ought to be repealed or suspended for a single hour at any place in any of the States or Territories of the Union. All the teachings of experience in the course of our history are in favor of sustaining its efficiency unimpaired. On every occasion when the supremacy of the Constitution has been resisted and the perpetuity of our institutions imperilled, the principle of this statute, enacted by the fathers, has enabled the government of the Union to maintain its authority and to preserve the integrity of the nation.

At the most critical periods of our history my predecessors in the executive [338] office have relied on this great principle. It was on this principle that President Washington suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania in 1794.

In 1806, on the same principle, President Jefferson broke up the Burr conspiracy by issuing “orders for the employment of such force, either of the regulars or of the militia, and by such proceedings of the civil authorities, as might enable them to suppress effectually the further progress of the enterprise.” And it was under the same authority that President Jackson crushed nullification in South Carolina, and that President Lincoln issued his call for troops to save the Union in 1861. On numerous other occasions of less significance, under probably every administration, and certainly under the present, this power has been successfully exerted to enforce the laws, without objection by any party in the country, and almost without attracting public attention.

The great elementary constitutional principle which was the foundation of the original statute of 1792, and which has been its essence in the various forms it has assumed since its first adoption, is that the government of the United States possesses, under the Constitution, in full measure, the power of self-protection by its own agencies, altogether independent of State authority, and, if need be, against the hostility of State governments. It should remain embodied in our statutes unimpaired, as it has been from the very origin of the government. It should be regarded as hardly less valuable or less sacred than a provision of the Constitution itself.

There are many other important statutes containing provisions that are liable to be suspended or annulled at the times and places of holding elections if the bill before me should become a law. I do not undertake to furnish a list of them. Many of them—perhaps the most of them —have been set forth in the debates on this measure. They relate to extradition, to crimes against the election laws, to quarantine regulations, to neutrality, to Indian reservations, to the civil rights of citizens, and to other subjects. In regard to them all it may be safely said that the meaning and effect of this bill is to take from the general government an important part of its power to enforce the laws.

Another grave objection to the bill is its discrimination in favor of the States and against the national authority. The presence or employment of the army or navy of the United States is lawful under the terms of this bill at the place where an election is being held in a State to uphold the authority of a State government then and there in need of such military intervention, but unlawful to uphold the authority of the government of the United States then and there in need of such military intervention. Under this bill the presence or employment of the army or navy of the United States would be lawful and might be necessary to maintain the conduct of a State election against the domestic violence that would overthrow it, but would be unlawful to maintain the conduct of a national election against the same local violence that would overthrow it. This discrimination has never been attempted in any previous legislation by Congress, and is no more compatible with sound principles of the Constitution or the necessary maxims and methods of our system of government on occasions of elections than at other times. In the early legislation of 1792, and of 1795, by which the militia of the States was the only military power resorted to for the execution of the constitutional powers in support of State or national authority, both functions of the government were put upon the same footing. By the act of 1807 the employment of the army and navy was authorized for the performance of both constitutional duties in the same terms.

In all later statutes on the same subject-matter the same measure of authority to the government has been accorded for the performance of both these duties. No precedent has been found in any previous legislation, and no sufficient reason has been given, for the discrimination in favor of the State and against the national authority which this bill contains.

Under the sweeping terms of the bill the national government is effectually shut out from the exercise of the right and from the discharge of the imperative duty to use its whole executive power [339] whenever and wherever required for the enforcement of its laws at the places and times when and where its elections are held. The employment of its organized armed forces for any purpose would be an offence against the law unless called for by, and therefore upon permission of, the authorities of the State in which the occasion arises. What is this but the substitution of the discretion of the State governments for the discretion of the government of the United States as to the performance of its own duties? In my judgment this is an abandonment of its obligations by the national government— a subordination of national authority and an intrusion of State supervision over national duties which amounts, in spirit and tendency, to State supremacy.

Though I believe that the existing statutes are abundantly adequate to completely prevent military interference with the elections in the sense in which the phrase is used in the title of this bill and is employed by the people of this country, I shall find no difficulty in concurring in any additional legislation limited to that object which does not interfere with the indispensable exercise of the powers of the government under the Constitution and laws.

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