HAYES, Rutherford B. Autograph letter signed (''R. B. Hayes'') to John Sherman, Columbus, Ohio, 23 June 1876. 2 pages, 8vo, small closed tear at bottom edge of vertical crease.
HAYES, Rutherford B. Autograph letter signed ("R. B. Hayes") to John Sherman, Columbus, Ohio, 23 June 1876. 2 pages, 8vo, small closed tear at bottom edge of vertical crease.
"MY INCLINATION IS TO SAY VERY LITTLE": HAYES MAPS HIS CAMPAIGN STRATEGY AFTER RECEIVING THE GOP NOMINATION FOR PRESIDENT. "The next thing in store for me is my letter of acceptance," Hayes writes. "I am advised to harden by some, and to soften by others the money plank, and so on. Perhaps I would do well to affirm it as it stands. I shall thorolly [sic] reply to the Committee before the end of the month, or till after the 4th. If you have suggestions you will oblige me by making them. My inclination is to say very little. The people are already organizing. Meetings are ratifying, and the letter of acceptance may as well perhaps be a purely formal affair, may it not?"
Hayes's passive strategy did not prove very effective. His opponent, New York Governor Samuel J. Tilden, outpolled him in the popular vote by a considerable margin of some 250,000 votes. Several things hurt the Republicans. The economy was in the third year of a deep depression, brought on, many Democrats thought, by the GOP's "hard money" policies. Then there were the many scandals of the Grant administration, and fatigue over Reconstruction. Hayes was so stunned by the results that he was ready to concede the day after the election and told a reporter that he thought the incoming returns would show Tilden the clear winner. But the party bosses like Sherman urged him to wait. The returns from South Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, and Oregon were all under dispute. A bi-partisan panel of fifteen Senators, Congressmen and Supreme Court Justices awarded enough disputed votes to Hayes to given him a one-vote electoral edge, 185-184. This did not end the matter. Now outraged Democrats threatened to block the official Congressional approval of the electoral count by using filibusters and other obstructing tactics. Some feared a resumption of Civil War. But Hayes slaked Democratic demands by effectively ending the punitive reconstruction of the South, and allowing the return to power of many of the unreconstructed old ruling class--at the expense of the political and economic rights of black Southerners. Not until 2 March, two days before Inauguration Day, was Hayes finally and officially declared President. As for John Sherman, he became Secretary of the Treasury in Hayes's Cabinet.