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The Hayes Administration

Rutherford B. Hayes intended for his administration to be a time of healing following the hatred of the Civil War, the bitterness of Reconstruction and the rank corruption of the Grant years. The president was successful in ending reconstruction, raising the issue of civil service reform, staving off the inflationary financial proposals of the Democrats, combating Congressional effort to restrict black rights, and easing tensions in foreign affairs. Hayes, however, offended many by his handling of a railroad strike. Rutherford B. Hayes came into his administration under a cloud. Voting irregularities had been widespread, attributable to both major parties, and the debate between the claims of Hayes and Governor Samuel Tilden of New York was not resolved until just before the inauguration. Hayes title to the office was clear but it has been clouded historically by the possibility that Congress ratified his election in return for Hayes' commmitment to ending Reconstruction. The commitment on withdrawing troops was consistent with Hayes' views, as well as those of the American public in general. He was generous to the South on many public projects but wouldn't support a subsidy for the Texas and Pacific Railroad, a pet project of many in Dixie. During his administration, Rutherford Hayes hoped to establish a Republican Party organization in the South after Reconstruction, but he was no more successful in that direction than he was in persuading Southerners to fulfill their promises to provide blacks with the civil rights they had promised in exchange for the end of Reconstruction. Hayes was an ardent reformer, and his administration brought him into conflict with the Old Guard over the notion, which he announced in his inauguration, that "He serves his party best who serves his country best." In keeping with this tone, he declined to run for re-election at the end of his administration.