Hayes was basically a cipher (in the sense of “one that has no weight, worth, or influence : NONENTITY“), but his election in 1876, a result of the famous Compromise of 1877, was consequential indeed. The negotiations that elevated Hayes to the presidency directly brought about the end of Post-Civil War Reconstruction Era in the former Confederate States, but also engendered the Jim Crow laws that oppressed Americans of African descent, in most respects, to this day. When you think about the horrors that black people suffered and continue to suffer, think about the installation of Hayes in the presidency as a result of this chicanery.
This is a relatively short reading. But I think it could be the basis of a unit that I would like to think contained adapted text and teacher-made materials from C. Vann Woodward’s seminal treatise on this period of United States history, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). If we want students to make sense of the present, then we must help them understand the real past–without obfuscation or euphemism.
Incidentally, I’ve attached the black history tag to this post, not because Hayes’ biography is black history–it manifestly is not. But the man’s effect on the lives and history of Americans of African descent really speaks for itself: generations of extrajudicial murder (including of children), apartheid laws, an unearned and misplaced sense of ethnic superiority attached to white skin–do I need to go on? Unfortunately, Rutherford B. Hayes is part of Black History in this country.
If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.