Rutherford B. Hayes: Inaugural Address

(1877)

Rutherford B. Hayes delivered his Inaugural Address on March 5, 1877, after a disputed presidential election between Republican Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden. Hayes recognized the depths of the division within the country and sought to calm the situation with his Inaugural Address. The United States had seemed to be on the verge of a second civil war during the winter of 1876–1877. The bitter dispute over the outcome of the election was finally resolved in favor of Hayes, yet many Americans remained convinced that Tilden was the actual winner. As the date of Hayes's inauguration approached, even his supporters worried that he could never overcome the poisonous atmosphere that surrounded the contest. Talk of an armed invasion of Washington, D.C., to install Tilden in the White House was in the air. In his Inaugural Address, Hayes signaled his desire to move beyond the conflicts of Reconstruction toward a lasting reconciliation between the North and South.

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Rutherford B. Hayes (Library of Congress)

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