Author: Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes, c. 1870–80

The Civil War general and 19th US president, Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1822–93) was born in Delaware, Ohio, the son of a shopkeeper who died before his birth. He graduated as class valedictorian from Kenyon College in 1842, and then attended Harvard Law School, later practicing law in Cincinnati. When the Civil War began, Hayes was appointed a major in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry by the governor. He saw frequent battle and suffered severe injuries in 1862. In 1864, voters elected him to the US Congress and later the governor’s office, which he occupied until 1877. His prominence as governor and as a rising star in the Republican Party led to his nomination for president in the election of 1876. Despite one of the tightest presidential elections in history, he emerged victorious. Deciding not to seek reelection, he retired after one term and moved back Spiel Grove, his house in Fremont, Ohio. 

Address at the Unveiling of the Soldiers’ Monument

Rutherford B. Hayes

The National Soldiers’ Home in Dayton, Ohio provided a place to care for disabled Civil War veterans. Several such homes were built across the country, but the Dayton site became the largest, and was the first to admit black veterans of the war. It was here, on September 12, 1877, the Country’s Defenders Soldiers’ Monument was unveiled and dedicated, to honor not the great generals but the common American soldier.