Rutherford Birchard Hayes (October 4, 1822 – January 17, 1893) was the 19th President of the United States (1877–81). As a president, he attempted to reconcile the divisions left over from the Civil War.
He was a prominent attorney and politician in Ohio when the Civil War began. He joined the Union Army as an officer and was wounded five times, earned a reputation for bravery in combat and was promoted to the rank of major general. After the war, he served in the U.S. Congress as a Republican and was elected as a Governor of Ohio for two terms, and then to a third term.
In 1876, Hayes was elected president in one of the most contentious elections in national history. He lost the popular vote to Democrat Samuel J. Tilden but he won an intensely disputed electoral college vote after a Congressional commission awarded him twenty contested electoral votes.
Hayes believed in meritocratic government, equal treatment without regard to race, and improvement through education. Hayes kept his pledge not to run for re-election, retired to his home in Ohio, and became an advocate of social and educational reform. Biographer Ari Hoogenboom says his greatest achievement was to restore popular faith in the presidency and to reverse the deterioration of executive power that had set in after Abraham Lincoln's death.
"The filth and noise of the crowded streets soon destroy the elasticity of health which belongs to the country boy."