Rutherford B. Hayes: Inaugural Address

(1877)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

In the opening paragraphs of his Inaugural Address, Hayes strikes a reasonable, conciliatory tone. The controversial circumstances of his election victory form the background of his remarks. In a real sense, he is still making the case for his elevation to the presidency. He signals his willingness to adapt to conditions by loosely sketching out “certain important ends to be attained” during his term in office, guided by motives he hopes that the nation shares. By expressing his hope that “every motive for misrepresentation has passed away,” Hayes both concedes the intense feeling surrounding the 1876 election and signals that he expects partisans to put aside their differences for the common national good. He asks citizens of whatever political affiliation to give him a fair hearing and “candidly” judge his words on their merits. To emphasize his consistency of principle (and to indirectly refute charges that he made deals to secure...

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Rutherford B. Hayes (Library of Congress)

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