After years of Grant-era corruption, the Republican Party looked to the earnest and upright Hayes to revitalize their flagging and scandalized party. As the volume of protest over election results increased, the Southern Democrats threatened to oust Hayes, and so he was forced to conciliate. To the dismay of the more conservative Republicans, he struck a deal to end military occupation of the South, thus ending the Reconstruction. In retrospect, as historian Hans L. Trefousse points out, it was this decision that helped unify the country and which restored legitimacy to the Oval Office.
As chief executive, Hayes's accomplishments were mixed. His conservative financial policies helped lift the country's economic depression, and he was able to reform the civil service and quell the 1877 labor uprising. But many of his well-intentioned goals, such as a bill that would help fund education for black children, were never realized, and many contemporary historians fault him for his lack of action on these fronts.
Rather than pursue a second term, Hayes decided to retire, maintaining his reputation for temperance, authority, and stability. Ultimately, it was Hayes's ability to compromise in order to help revitalize a floundering and factionalized nation that serves as his real legacy.
©2002 Hans L. Trefousse; (P)2003 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
"[A] thoughtful [and] useful look at an honest, if obscure, political leader, who, the author argues, rightfully won his office." (Kirkus Reviews)
This book read like a timeline of his actions and accomplishments - a Cliff Notes - a third grader's report on "What I did this summer". I must be spoiled afer reading the 2 volume bio (4 parts) of John Adams, the 2 volume bio of Teddy Roosevelt (The Rise of TR and Theodore Rex) and the excellent bio of Truman by David McCullough.
Hans Trefousse continually refers to Ari Hoogenbloom as a source of reference. When Ari's version comes out I'm getting it. Maybe everyone else should wait for that version, too. I was glad when this book was finished.
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