Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Rutherford B. Hayes (The American Presidents, #19)” as Want to Read:
Rutherford B. Hayes (The American Presidents, #19)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Rutherford B. Hayes (The American Presidents #19)

3.6  ·  Rating details ·  383 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
A leader of the Reconstruction era, whose contested election eerily parallels the election debacle of 2000

The disputed election of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden, in which Congress set up a special electoral commission, handing the disputed electoral votes to Hayes, brings recent events into sharp focus.

Historian Hans L. Trefousse explores Hayes's new
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Times Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Rutherford B. Hayes, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Rutherford B. Hayes

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
It's hard to give this book a fair shake. This is the first time in my reading the presidents mission that I've resorted to a volume of The American Presidents series, and I imagine that the nature of the "assignment" probably put some constraints on author, Hans L. Trefousse. This is a biography of Rutherford B. Hayes— that's undeniable —so I guess it earns points for truth in advertising. Downside? It's pretty darn boring.

Some of the least boring bits:
Hayes took the well-worn path to politic
Apr 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Rutherford Hayes is my new favorite poster boy for this questionably-advised President's Project. I know I crush on every president I read about, but at number 19, I've reached a point in the endeavour where I can make some educated generalizations. Such as, the Presidents are pretty consistently falling in to categories. There are the Presidents-I've-Heard-Of-Because-They're-So-Great (and they usually are), the Presidents-I've-Heard-Of-Because-They're-So-Bad (and they usually are, with some hap ...more
Doreen Petersen
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: presidents
Hayes was one of the most educated and intellectual presidents. His life story as well as the story of his presidency is well worth reading.
May 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book Thirty-Nine of my Presidential Challenge.

I believe that Rutherford B. Hayes was a good man. I want to get that out of the way right up front. He treated people with kindness and understanding. He was an optimist who always seemed to think the best of people.

In his entire Presidency, he only really made one mistake...but that mistake was a doozy. For all intents and purposes, Hayes ended Reconstruction in the South. I definitely understand his thinking. He wanted to bring the South back into
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
pg 92-93 "But the president had little choice. His predecessor, General Grant, had decided to withdraw support from the disputed governments even before the inauguration, and the country was no longer ready to tolerate military interference in the South. As Ari Hoogenboom has stated so well, Hayes knew that Northern opinion would not long sustain the troops in the South, but from this weak bargaining position he extracted from the rival Democratic governments promises to guarantee the voting and ...more
David Bales
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Rutherford B. Hayes is another one of America's "forgotten presidents" but as this biography points out, he shouldn't be, since he was one of the best educated, most humane and most competent presidents the country ever had. Born in Ohio in 1822, Hayes became a prominent lawyer in small town Ohio after stints at Kenyon College and the Harvard Law School. His family deeply opposed slavery and he joined the new Republican party in the 1850s, becoming a state attorney in 1858 and then at the age of ...more
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The American Presidents Series is a great introduction to the lives and legacies of our chief executives, particularly the one term 19th-century presidents who seem to have blurred into obscurity. I must note here my own belief that James K. Polk, a one term 19th-century president, rises well above the pack. As for the others, I do not mean to demean them, but one does struggle at first to distinguish some of them or remember their accomplishments. I just finished the biography of Rutherford B. ...more
David Nichols
Rutherford Hayes, 19th president of the United States, features in THE SIMPSONS' 1993 "Pageant of Obscure Presidents," and he deserves his obscurity. The Civil War general and three-term governor of Ohio was elected president in the outrageously dirty election of 1876 (see my review of Michael Holt's book thereon here:, and the shall-we-say unorthodox circumstances of his election crippled his presidency before it began. Hayes further diminished his powe ...more
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Here's the thing - I think Hayes was probably a good guy who came to power when the Republican party was breaking into factions and the in-fighting caused them from doing, well, anything. The problem is that this book is so poorly written that I'm not sure if that's correct, or I just made that up to make myself feel like I learned something. It's not that the facts aren't there, but the author jumps around a lot and inserts these weird non sequiturs (that sometimes have nothing to do with Hayes ...more
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us-presidents
This is a superficial biography totally lacking any citations. Hayes was apparently a well educated, honorable and decent guy, but much of this book reads like a campaign promotion. We are repeatedly told that the pretty Mrs. Hayes hosted dandy parties in the White House, although I suspect that not all guests were happy that "Lemonade Lucy" forbade any liquor in the president's home. More historically relevant subjects such as Hayes using federal troops to break worker strikes or his authorizat ...more
Matt McBrien
Simply put, I believe this book to be too brief. In the author's attempts to keep the book short, it has become almost a simple list of what he did.

Perhaps other books by Hans Trefousse could be very good... but this one is simply not. It seems very poorly written because of it's brevity. My guess is that this is based on the book being a part of the American Presidents Series, and a possible size-limit set by the series. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. I haven't read any other books in that ser
Aug 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite conventional wisdom, I find Hayes endlessly fascinating. This book however was dry, dry, dry.
Robin Friedman
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Disputed Presidency

The Bush-Gore election 0f 2000 is one of four disputed presidential elections in United States history, together with the 1800 contest among Jefferson, Burr and John Adams and the 1824 election which featured four candidates, John Quincy Adams, Jackson, Clay, and Crawford. But the most controversial of America's disputed presidential elections remains that of 1876 in which the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was determined to be the winner over the Democrat Samuel Tilden even
Stacey Jones
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This brief biography of Rutherford B. Hayes made me want to read more about him, and so I consider it a success. This series of presidential bios is not meant to provide exhaustive or comprehensive studies of each life, but to introduce you to the life of the person who served. This book by Hans L. Trefousse does that very well.

I’m engaged in a project to read biographies of all the presidents in order, at a rate of two per year. I choose the books using the following criteria: The book must be
Brian Andersen
Good short bio of an Ohio President I didn't know much about beyond the problems with the 1876 election and the Compromise of 1877. He reminds me of Garfield in that he was well educated and progressive in the area of civil rights for his time. The bottom line for the Hayes legacy is that despite his rocky start, upon his exit he was well regarded by both parties and restored faith in the Executive branch in the wake of the corrupt Grant administration.
Zach Koenig
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After the Grant administration presided over the country for either years, the Republican Party (despite Grant's many successes) had been tainted by scandal. Within four years, however, the GOP had been restored to solid ground thanks to the Hayes presidency. This book tells the story of how it happened.

I consider this to be a solid entry in the American Presidents series. I learned the requisite Hayes information, and felt as if I understood the man and his times much better upon conclusion. As
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

“Rutherford B. Hayes” is Hans Trefousse’s 2002 contribution to The American Presidents Series. Trefousse was an American historian, author and a professor at Brooklyn College for nearly four decades. He was most widely known for his biographies of Andrew Johnson and Rutherford Hayes. Trefousse died in 2010 at the age of eighty-eight.

Like the other half-dozen members of this series I’ve read so far, Trefousse’s text is crisp, concise and comprehensive (thou
Steven Peterson
Aug 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
President Rutherford (called "Rud" by friends) is best known, probably, for being a (as his opponents put it) fraudulent president." Of course, this refers to (a) his becoming president while being whipped in the national popular vote and (b) the process by which a couple contested southern states (perhaps ironic given the 2000 contested presidential election, Florida) had their electoral votes assigned to Hayes.

But what else do most people know about Hayes? Probably not much. And this slender
Regina Lindsey
For Valentines Day my husband read the preface of this book and surprised me by giving me a glimpse of what I could expect from Hayes. Admittedly, I was not very familiar with Hayes prior to the read. My reaction to his "report" was, "it sounds like he was a lot like Jimmy Carter". I think there are definitely some similarities in that both were reactionary elections - the electorate choosing the mirror opposite of characteristics that governed the previously administration. But, more obvious, b ...more
Jennifer Nelson
This is a quick moving, somewhat dry overview of the life of Rutherford B. Hayes, our 19th president. To sum him up, he basically was a “nice guy.” He was very involved in many causes to help society, was charming to be around, and a complete optimist. He did well in school, excelled in his law practice, had a neat and tidy soldiering record in the Civil War, served faithfully as congressman and governor of Ohio, and then ended up president and redeeming himself after a rough start (election woe ...more
Chris Burd
I might have a new favorite President.

I was tempted to give this one a four star rating, but that might be a bit unfair. The book itself isn't great. There are a few places where ideas are introduced without any context, a few acronyms that aren't explained, and a few jumps forward in time that are a little confusing. However, given how little there is out there on President Hayes, I have to recommend this one if you want to get to know one of the lesser known Presidents.

I don't want my review t
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it
First - the president. I never knew much about President Hayes. He seems to get lost in that post-Grant, per-Teddy R cavalcade of presidents. After reading this book it seems that unfortunate. He was not a perfect president (his major flaw was his fumbling of the end of reconstruction leading ultimately to Jim Crow). Further there was the whole contested election - losing the popular vote but winning the electoral. Though given the violence and electoral strife in the south, it seems the right p ...more
This is a short biography of Rutherford B Hayes the 19th President of the US. One of the four Presidents elected without winning the popular vote and elected after an election commission investigated voter suppression in former Confederate states of Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida. It follows his early career as a lawyer in Ohio his service in the Union Army during the Civil War and his rise in Republican politics as a Congressman, Senator and Governor. A compromise choice after James Blai ...more
Jessica (booneybear)
Unfortunately, Hans Trefousse does nothing more than write a biography on President Hayes proving that the president was a vanilla president in a world of Ben & Jerry's. Hayes entered the presidency under the scandal of disputed election results which could have made for great drama, however it was barely touched upon. I know the biography was just a short book, but it read as if Mr. Trefousse had a word limit that he would be fined if he went over his allotted word count. There is more than ...more
Jun 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. That Reconstruction era was all kinds of messed up and this poor guy didn't stand a chance of succeeding in office. This was Bush v Gore before Bush v Gore! In his Presidential race against Tilden, a Democrat, Tilden won the popular vote. Hayes was elected because he won the Electoral College vote by just a single vote! The Republicans accused the Democrats of all kinds of shenanigans, which led to voter disenfranchisement all throughout the Southern states. So, Hayes thought he had rightfu ...more
Kristin Smith
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is hard for me to separate the quality of the book and the person when I read a biography. I think President Hayes was the person I was hoping to stumble upon when I started reading the presidents' biographies. I think he was a good, honest, optimistic person. He did what he thought was right. He led a good term and chose not to seek reelection.
Lethe book was well done, but shallow in research compared to other biographies I have read. It definitely gave a good overview of his life and a litt
Shawn Thrasher
Definitely a low-gloss look at our 19th president. I'm not sure if this because Han L. Trefousse purposely wrote a low impact book, or Rutherford B. Hayes was just genially uninteresting. The biggest single interesting thing that seemed to have happened to Hayes politically was the nasty disputed election of 1876. That the peak of interesting in this book; the actual tenure of Hayes was sort of dull. Again, was it really dull, or is Trefousse just a dull writer? I don't know enough about either ...more
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: presidents
Rutherford B. Hayes by this account was an honest man and in my opinion a pretty darned good president. Sure he didn't accomplish all he wanted to but significantly, he ended Reconstruction, stuck to a conservative fiscal policy and promoted education for black children. Interestingly he started collecting portraits of Ohio governors while he was governor and began a similar effort for presidents while he was in that office. Odd that no one had thought of that before. He deserves a better book.
Fred Kohn
Well, I liked it. Some reviewers said it is poorly written, others said it is dry. I think those are fair criticisms of some parts of the book, but certainly not the whole. I think the author may be rightly accused of playing up Hayes a bit: I suspect he wasn't quite as wonderful a president as he comes across in this book. But then again, this is the first book I've read about the man, and I have nothing to compare it to other than what Wikipedia says. :)
Robert Sparrenberger
This is a quick look at the 19th president of the U.S. He is definitely a forgotten president but one that is important due to the interesting election of 1876.

That being said, after reading this I feel like Hayes was the second coming of Christ. The guy had no enemies and everyone loved him. His exploits in the civil war are amazing if you read this account.

I enjoyed he facts about him and his presidency but the slobbering over him was too much.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Madison Mega-Mara...: #11 Rutherford B Hayes (FEB CHALLENGE 3) 1 1 Feb 27, 2017 07:17AM  
  • Grover Cleveland (The American Presidents, #22, #24)
  • John Tyler (The American Presidents, #10)
  • Chester Alan Arthur (The American Presidents, #21)
  • James Buchanan (The American Presidents, #15)
  • Gerald R. Ford (The American Presidents, #38)
  • Benjamin Harrison (The American Presidents, #23)
  • Herbert Hoover (The American Presidents, #31)
  • Warren G. Harding (The American Presidents, #29)
  • Franklin Pierce (The American Presidents, #14)
  • James A. Garfield (The American Presidents, #20)
  • John Quincy Adams
  • Andrew Johnson (The American Presidents, #17)
  • George H. W. Bush (The American Presidents, #41)
  • Martin Van Buren
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (The American Presidents, #34)
  • Zachary Taylor
  • Jimmy Carter (The American Presidents, #39)
  • James Monroe

Other Books in the Series

The American Presidents (1 - 10 of 41 books)
  • George Washington
  • John Adams
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • James Monroe
  • John Quincy Adams
  • Andrew Jackson (The American Presidents, #7)
  • Martin Van Buren
  • William Henry Harrison (The American Presidents, #9)
  • John Tyler (The American Presidents, #10)

Share This Book