In church it occurred to me that it is time for the public to hear that the giant evil and danger in this country, the danger which transcends all others, is the vast wealth owned or controlled by a few persons. Money is power. In Congress, in state legislatures, in city councils, in the courts, in the political conventions, in the press, in the pulpit, in the circles of the educated and the talented, its influence is growing greater and greater. Excessive wealth in the hands of the few means extreme poverty, ignorance, vice, and wretchedness as the lot of the many. It is not yet time to debate about the remedy. The previous question is as to the danger—the evil. Let the people be fully informed and convinced as to the evil. Let them earnestly seek the remedy and it will be found. Fully to know the evil is the first step towards reaching its eradication. Henry George is strong when he portrays the rottenness of the present system. We are, to say the least, not yet ready for his remedy. We may reach and remove the difficulty by changes in the laws regulating corporations, descents of property, wills, trusts, taxation, and a host of other important interests, not omitting lands and other property.
Through both his father and mother, Hayes was of New England colonial ancestry. His earliest American ancestor emigrated to Connecticut from Scotland in 1625. Hayes's great-grandfather, Ezekiel Hayes, was a militia captain in Connecticut in the American Revolutionary War, but Ezekiel's son (Hayes's grandfather, also named Rutherford) left his Branford home during the war for the relative peace of Vermont. His mother's ancestors arrived in Vermont at a similar time, and most of his close relatives outside Ohio continued to live there. John Noyes, an uncle by marriage, had been his father's Business partner in Vermont and was later elected to Congress. His first cousin, Mary Jane Mead, was the mother of Sculptor Larkin Goldsmith Mead and Architect william Rutherford Mead. John Humphrey Noyes, the founder of the Oneida Community, was also a first cousin. He became a member of the Sons of the American Revolution based on his descent from Daniel Austin and Elias Birchard.
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was born in Delaware, Ohio, on October 4, 1822, the son of Rutherford Hayes, Jr. and Sophia Birchard. Hayes's father, a Vermont storekeeper, took the family to Ohio in 1817. He died ten weeks before Rutherford's birth. Sophia took charge of the family, bringing up Hayes and his sister, Fanny, the only two of their four children to survive to adulthood. She never remarried; Sophia's younger brother, Sardis Birchard, lived with the family for a time. He was always close to Hayes and became a father figure to him, contributing to his early education.
Hayes attended the Common schools in Delaware, Ohio, and enrolled in 1836 at the Methodist Norwalk Seminary in Norwalk, Ohio. He did well at Norwalk, and the following year transferred to The Webb School, a preparatory school in Middletown, Connecticut, where he studied Latin and Ancient Greek. Returning to Ohio, he attended Kenyon College in Gambier in 1838. He enjoyed his time at Kenyon, and was successful scholastically; while there, he joined several student societies and became interested in Whig politics. He graduated with highest honors in 1842 and addressed the class as its valedictorian.
After briefly reading law in Columbus, Ohio, Hayes moved east to attend Harvard Law School in 1843. Graduating with an LL.B, he was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1845 and opened his own law office in Lower Sandusky (now Fremont). Business was slow at first, but he gradually attracted a few clients and also represented his uncle Sardis in real estate litigation. In 1847, Hayes became ill with what his Doctor thought to be tuberculosis. Thinking a change in climate would help, he considered enlisting in the Mexican–American War, but on his doctor's advice he instead visited family in New England. Returning from there, Hayes and his uncle Sardis made a long journey to Texas, where Hayes visited with Guy M. Bryan, a Kenyon classmate and distant relative. Business remained meager on his return to Lower Sandusky, and Hayes decided to move to Cincinnati.
Hayes had begun his law practice dealing primarily with commercial issues but won greater prominence in Cincinnati as a Criminal defense attorney, defending several people accused of murder. In one case, he used a form of the insanity defense that saved the accused from the gallows; the woman was instead confined to a mental institution. Hayes also defended slaves who had escaped and were accused under the recently enacted Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. As Cincinnati was just across the Ohio River from Kentucky, a slave state, it was a destination for escaping slaves and many such cases were tried in its courts. A staunch abolitionist, Hayes found his work on behalf of fugitive slaves personally gratifying as well as politically useful, as it raised his profile in the newly formed Republican Party.
Hayes courted his Future wife, Lucy Webb, during his time there. His mother had encouraged him to get to know Lucy years earlier, but Hayes had believed she was too young and focused his attention on other women. Four years later, Hayes began to spend more time with Lucy. They became engaged in 1851 and married on December 30, 1852, at the house of Lucy's mother. Over the next five years, Lucy gave birth to three sons: Birchard Austin (1853), Webb Cook (1856), and Rutherford Platt (1858). Lucy, a Methodist, was a teetotaler and abolitionist. She influenced her husband's views on those issues, although he never formally joined her church.
His political reputation rose with his professional plaudits. Hayes declined the Republican nomination for a judgeship in 1856. Two years later, some Republicans proposed Hayes to fill a vacancy on the bench and he considered accepting the appointment until the office of city solicitor also became vacant. The city council elected Hayes as city solicitor to fill the vacancy, and he won a full two-year term from the voters in April 1859 with a larger majority than other Republicans on the ticket.
Hayes, an attorney in Ohio, was city solicitor of Cincinnati from 1858 to 1861. When the Civil War began, he left a fledgling political career to join the Union Army as an officer. Hayes was wounded five times, most seriously at the Battle of South Mountain. He earned a reputation for bravery in combat and was promoted to the rank of brevet major general. After the war, he served in the Congress from 1865 to 1867 as a Republican. Hayes left Congress to run for governor of Ohio and was elected to two consecutive terms, from 1868 to 1872, and then to a third term, from 1876 to 1877.
As the Southern states quickly started to secede after Lincoln's election to the presidency in 1860, Hayes was lukewarm on the idea of a civil war to restore the Union. Considering that the two sides might be irreconcilable, he suggested that the Union "[l]et them go." Although Ohio had voted for Lincoln in 1860, the Cincinnati voters turned against the Republican party after secession. Its residents included many from the South, and they voted for the Democrats and Know-Nothings, who combined to sweep the city elections in April 1861, ejecting Hayes from the city solicitor's office.
After a month of training, Hayes and the 23rd Ohio set out for western Virginia in July 1861 as a part of the Kanawha Division. They passed the next few months out of contact with the enemy until September, when the regiment encountered Confederates at Carnifex Ferry in present-day West Virginia and drove them back. In November, Hayes was promoted to lieutenant colonel (Matthews having been promoted to colonel of another regiment) and led his troops deeper into western Virginia, where they entered winter quarters. The division resumed its advance the following spring, and Hayes led several raids against the rebel forces, on one of which he sustained a minor injury to his knee. That September, Hayes's regiment was called east to reinforce General John Pope's Army of Virginia at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Although Hayes and his troops did not arrive in time for the battle, they joined the Army of the Potomac as it hurried north to cut off Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, which was advancing into Maryland. Marching north, the 23rd was the lead regiment encountering the Confederates at the Battle of South Mountain on September 14. Hayes led a charge against an entrenched position and was shot through his left arm, fracturing the bone. He had one of his men tie a handkerchief above the wound in an effort to stop the bleeding, and continued to lead his men in the battle. While resting, he ordered his men to meet a flanking attack, but instead his entire command moved backward, leaving Hayes lying in between the lines.
The division spent the following winter and spring near Charleston, Virginia (present-day West Virginia), out of contact with the enemy. Hayes saw little action until July 1863, when the division skirmished with John Hunt Morgan's cavalry at the Battle of Buffington Island. Returning to Charleston for the rest of the summer, Hayes spent the fall encouraging the men of the 23rd Ohio to re-enlist, and many did so. In 1864, the Army command structure in West Virginia was reorganized, and Hayes's division was assigned to George Crook's Army of West Virginia. Advancing into southwestern Virginia, they destroyed Confederate salt and lead mines there. On May 9, they engaged Confederate troops at Cloyd's Mountain, where Hayes and his men charged the enemy entrenchments and drove the rebels from the field. Following the rout, the Union forces destroyed Confederate supplies and again successfully skirmished with the enemy.
While serving in the Army of the Shenandoah in 1864, Hayes was nominated by Republicans to run for the House of Representatives from Ohio's 2nd congressional district. Asked by friends in Cincinnati to leave the army to campaign, Hayes refused, saying that an "officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer for a seat in Congress ought to be scalped." Instead, Hayes wrote several letters to the voters explaining his political positions and was elected by a 2,400-vote majority over the incumbent Democrat Alexander Long.
When the 39th Congress assembled in December 1865, Hayes was sworn in as a part of a large Republican majority. Hayes identified with the moderate wing of the party, but was willing to vote with the radicals for the sake of party unity. The major legislative effort of the Congress was the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, for which Hayes voted and which passed both houses of Congress in June 1866. Hayes's beliefs were in line with his fellow Republicans on Reconstruction issues: that the South should be restored to the Union, but not without adequate protections for freedmen and other black southerners. President Andrew Johnson, who succeeded to office following Lincoln's assassination, to the contrary wanted to re-admit the seceded states quickly without first ensuring that they adopted laws protecting the newly freed slaves' civil rights; he also granted pardons to many of the leading former Confederates. Hayes, along with congressional Republicans, disagreed. They worked to reject Johnson's vision of Reconstruction and to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
Re-elected in 1866, Hayes returned to the lame-duck session to vote for the Tenure of Office Act, which ensured that Johnson could not remove administration officials without the Senate's consent. He also unsuccessfully pressed for a civil Service reform bill that attracted the votes of many reform-minded Republicans. Hayes continued to vote with the majority in the 40th Congress on the Reconstruction Acts, but resigned in July 1867 to campaign for governor of Ohio.
A popular Congressman and former Army officer, Hayes was considered by Ohio Republicans to be an excellent standard-bearer for the 1867 election campaign. Hayes's political views were more moderate than the Republican party's platform, although he agreed with the proposed amendment to the Ohio state constitution that would guarantee suffrage to black male Ohioans. Hayes's opponent, Allen G. Thurman, made the proposed amendment the centerpiece of the campaign and opposed black suffrage. Both men campaigned vigorously, making speeches across the state, mostly focusing on the suffrage question. The election was mostly a disappointment to Republicans, as the amendment failed to pass and Democrats gained a majority in the state legislature. Hayes thought at first that he, too, had lost, but the final tally showed that he had won the election by 2,983 votes of 484,603 votes cast.
Outside of the Western hemisphere, Hayes's biggest foreign policy concern dealt with China. In 1868, the Senate had ratified the Burlingame Treaty with China, allowing an unrestricted flow of Chinese immigrants into the country. As the economy soured after the Panic of 1873, Chinese immigrants were blamed for depressing workmen's wages. During the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, anti-Chinese riots broke out in San Francisco, and a third party, the Workingman's Party, was formed with an emphasis on stopping Chinese immigration. In response, Congress passed a Chinese Exclusion Act in 1879, abrogating the 1868 treaty. Hayes vetoed the bill, believing that the United States should not abrogate treaties without negotiation. The veto drew praise among eastern liberals, but Hayes was bitterly denounced in the West. In the subsequent furor, Democrats in the House of Representatives attempted to impeach him, but narrowly failed when Republicans prevented a quorum by refusing to vote. After the veto, Assistant Secretary of State Frederick W. Seward suggested that both countries work together to reduce immigration, and he and James Burrill Angell negotiated with the Chinese to do so. Congress passed a new law to that effect, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, after Hayes left office.
As a Republican governor with a Democratic legislature, Hayes had a limited role in governing, especially since Ohio's governor had no veto power. Despite these constraints, Hayes oversaw the establishment of a school for deaf-mutes and a reform school for girls. He endorsed the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson and urged his conviction, which failed by one vote in the United States Senate. Nominated for a second term in 1869, Hayes campaigned again for equal rights for black Ohioans and sought to associate his Democratic opponent, George H. Pendleton with disunion and Confederate sympathies. Hayes was re-elected with an increased majority, and the Republicans took the legislature, ensuring Ohio's ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed black (male) suffrage. With a Republican legislature, Hayes's second term was more enjoyable. Suffrage was expanded and a state Agricultural and Mechanical College (later to become The Ohio State University) established. He also proposed a reduction in state taxes and reform of the state prison system. Choosing not to seek re-election, Hayes looked forward to retiring from politics in 1872.
The Mexican border also drew Hayes's attention. Throughout the 1870s, "lawless bands" often crossed the border on raids into Texas. Three months after taking office, Hayes granted the Army the power to pursue bandits, even if it required crossing into Mexican territory. Porfirio Díaz, the Mexican President, protested the order and sent troops to the border. The situation calmed as Díaz and Hayes agreed to jointly pursue bandits and Hayes agreed not to allow Mexican Revolutionaries to raise armies in the United States. The violence along the border decreased, and in 1880 Hayes revoked the order allowing pursuit into Mexico.
As Hayes prepared to leave office, several delegations of reform-minded Republicans urged him to run against the incumbent Republican, John Sherman, for United States Senate. Hayes declined the offers, preferring to preserve party unity and retire to private life. Hayes especially looked forward to spending time with his children, two of whom (daughter Fanny and son Scott) had been born in the past five years. Initially, Hayes tried to promote railway extensions to his hometown, Fremont. He also managed some real estate he had acquired in Duluth, Minnesota. Not entirely removed from politics, Hayes held out some hope of a cabinet appointment, but was disappointed to receive only an appointment as assistant U.S. treasurer at Cincinnati, which he turned down. He agreed to be nominated for his old House seat in 1872 but was not disappointed when he lost the election to Henry B. Banning, a fellow Kenyon College alumnus. In 1873, Lucy gave birth to another son, Manning Force Hayes. That same year, the Panic of 1873 hurt Business prospects across the nation, including Hayes's. Sardis Birchard died that year and the Hayes family moved into Spiegel Grove, the grand house Birchard had built with them in mind.
Hayes confronted two issues regarding the currency, the first of which was the coinage of silver, and its relation to gold. In 1873, the Coinage Act of 1873 stopped the coinage of silver for all coins worth a dollar or more, effectively tying the dollar to the value of gold. As a result, the money supply contracted and the effects of the Panic of 1873 grew worse, making it more expensive for debtors to pay debts they had contracted when currency was less valuable. Farmers and laborers, especially, clamored for the return of coinage in both metals, believing the increased money supply would restore wages and property values. Democratic Representative Richard P. Bland of Missouri proposed a bill that would require the United States to coin as much silver as miners could sell the government, thus increasing the money supply and aiding debtors. william B. Allison, a Republican from Iowa offered an amendment in the Senate limiting the coinage to two to four million dollars per month, and the resulting Bland–Allison Act passed both houses of Congress in 1878. Hayes feared that the Act would cause inflation that would be ruinous to Business, effectively impairing contracts that were based on the gold dollar, as the silver dollar proposed in the bill would have an intrinsic value of 90 to 92 percent of the existing gold dollar. Further, Hayes believed that inflating the currency was an act of dishonesty, saying "[e]xpediency and justice both demand an honest currency." He vetoed the bill, but Congress overrode his veto, the only time it did so during his presidency.
The second issue concerned United States Notes (commonly called greenbacks), a form of fiat currency first issued during the Civil War. The government accepted these notes as valid for payment of taxes and tariffs, but unlike ordinary dollars, they were not redeemable in gold. The Specie Payment Resumption Act of 1875 required the treasury to redeem any outstanding greenbacks in gold, thus retiring them from circulation and restoring a single, gold-backed currency. Sherman agreed with Hayes's favorable opinion of the Act, and stockpiled gold in preparation for the exchange of greenbacks for gold. Once the public was confident that they could redeem greenbacks for specie (gold), however, few did so; when the Act took effect in 1879, only $130,000 out of the $346,000,000 outstanding dollars in greenbacks were actually redeemed. Together with the Bland–Allison Act, the successful specie resumption effected a workable compromise between inflationists and hard money men and, as the world economy began to improve, agitation for more greenbacks and silver coinage quieted down for the rest of Hayes's term in office.
Hayes appointed two Associate Justices to the Supreme Court. The first vacancy occurred when David Davis resigned to enter the Senate during the election controversy of 1876. On taking office, Hayes appointed John Marshall Harlan to the seat. A former candidate for governor of Kentucky, Harlan had been Benjamin Bristow's campaign manager at the 1876 Republican convention, and Hayes had earlier considered him for Attorney General. Hayes submitted the nomination in October 1877, but it aroused some dissent in the Senate because of Harlan's limited experience in public office. Harlan was nonetheless confirmed and served on the court for thirty-four years, in which he voted (usually in the minority) for an aggressive enforcement of the civil rights laws. In 1880, a second seat became vacant upon the resignation of Justice william Strong. Hayes nominated william Burnham Woods, a carpetbagger Republican circuit court judge from Alabama. Woods served six years on the Court, ultimately proving a disappointment to Hayes as he interpreted the Constitution in a manner more similar to that of Southern Democrats than to Hayes's own preferences.
Hayes dealt with several conflicts with Indian tribes. The Nez Perce, led by Chief Joseph, began an uprising in June 1877 when Major General Oliver O. Howard ordered them to move on to a reservation. Howard's men defeated the Nez Perce in battle, and the tribe began a 1,700-mile retreat into Canada. In October, after a decisive battle at Bear Paw, Montana, Chief Joseph surrendered and General william T. Sherman ordered the tribe transported to Kansas, where they were forced to remain until 1885. The Nez Perce war was not the last conflict in the West, as the Bannock rose up in Spring 1878 and raided nearby settlements before being defeated by Howard's army in July of that year. War with the Ute tribe broke out in 1879 when the Utes killed Indian agent Nathan Meeker, who had been attempting to convert them to Christianity. The subsequent White River War ended when Schurz negotiated peace with the Ute and prevented the white Coloradans from taking revenge for Meeker's death.
An 1878 dispute between Argentina and Paraguay which Hayes had arbitrated and decided in favor of Paraguay, giving Paraguay 60 percent of its current territory later motivated a province in the region to be named after him: Presidente Hayes province (capital: Villa Hayes); an official holiday: Laudo Hayes Firm Day, the anniversary of the decision, celebrated in Presidente Hayes province; a local soccer team: Presidente Hayes soccer club (also known as "Los Yanquis"), based in the national capital, Asuncion; a postage stamp, the design of which was chosen in a contest run by the U.S. Embassy; and even a young girl's wish: a girl who came out of a coma got her fondest wish—a trip to the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio.
Hayes's later attempts to protect the rights of southern blacks were ineffective, as were his attempts to rebuild Republican strength in the South. He did, however, defeat Congress's efforts to curtail federal power to monitor federal elections. Democrats in Congress passed an army appropriation bill in 1879 with a rider that repealed the Enforcement Acts, which had been used to suppress the Ku Klux Klan. Those Acts, passed during Reconstruction, made it a crime to prevent someone from voting because of his race. Hayes was determined to preserve the law protecting black voters, and he vetoed the appropriation. The Democrats did not have enough votes to override the veto, but they passed a new bill with the same rider. Hayes vetoed this as well, and the process was repeated three times more. Finally, Hayes signed an appropriation without the offensive rider, but Congress refused to pass another bill to fund federal Marshals, who were vital to the enforcement of the Enforcement Acts. The election laws remained in effect, but the funds to enforce them were curtailed for the time being.
Hayes declined to seek re-election in 1880, keeping his pledge that he would not run for a second term. He was gratified with the election of fellow Ohio Republican James A. Garfield to succeed him, and consulted with him on appointments for the next administration. After Garfield's inauguration, Hayes and his family returned to Spiegel Grove. In 1881, he was elected a companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. He served as commander-in-chief (national president) of the Loyal Legion from 1888 until his death in 1893. Although he remained a loyal Republican, Hayes was not too disappointed in Grover Cleveland's election to the presidency in 1884, approving of the New York Democrat's views on civil Service reform. He was also pleased at the progress of the political career of william McKinley, his army comrade and political protégé.
Hayes attempted, unsuccessfully, to fill a third vacancy in 1881. Justice Noah Haynes Swayne resigned with the expectation that Hayes would fill his seat by appointing Stanley Matthews, who was a friend of both men. Many Senators objected to the appointment, believing that Matthews was too close to corporate and railroad interests, especially those of Jay Gould, and the Senate adjourned without voting on the nomination. The following year, when James A. Garfield entered the White House, he re-submitted Matthews's nomination to the Senate, which this time confirmed Matthews by one vote, 24 to 23. Matthews served for eight years until his death in 1889. His opinion in Yick Wo v. Hopkins in 1886 advanced his and Hayes' views on the protection of ethnic minorities' rights.
In retirement, Hayes was troubled by the disparity between the rich and the poor, saying in an 1886 speech that "free government cannot long endure if property is largely in a few hands and large masses of people are unable to earn homes, education, and a support in old age." The following year, Hayes recorded his thoughts on that subject in his diary:
Hayes became an advocate for educational charities, advocating federal education subsidies for all children. He believed that education was the best way to heal the rifts in American society and allow individuals to improve themselves. Hayes was appointed to the Board of Trustees of The Ohio State University, the school he helped found during his time as governor of Ohio, in 1887. He emphasized the need for vocational, as well as academic, education: "I preach the gospel of work," he wrote, "I believe in skilled labor as a part of education." He urged Congress, unsuccessfully, to pass a bill written by Senator Henry W. Blair that would have allowed federal aid for education for the first time. Hayes gave a speech in 1889 encouraging black students to apply for scholarships from the Slater Fund, one of the charities with which he was affiliated. One such student, W. E. B. Du Bois, received a scholarship in 1892. Hayes also advocated better prison conditions.
Hayes was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1890.
Hayes was greatly saddened by his wife's death in 1889. He wrote that "the soul had left [Spiegel Grove]" when she died. After Lucy's death, Hayes's daughter Fanny became his traveling companion, and he enjoyed visits from his grandchildren. In 1890, he chaired the Lake Mohonk Conference on the Negro Question, a gathering of reformers that met in upstate New York to discuss racial issues. Hayes died of complications of a heart attack at his home on January 17, 1893. His last words were "I know that I'm going where Lucy is." President-elect Grover Cleveland and Ohio Governor william McKinley led the funeral procession that followed Hayes's body until he was interred in Oakwood Cemetery.
Following the donation of his home to the state of Ohio for the Spiegel Grove State Park, he was re-interred there in 1915. The following year the Hayes Commemorative Library and Museum, the first presidential library in the United States, was opened on the site, funded by contributions from the state of Ohio and Hayes' family.
Returning to private practice, Hayes formed a very brief law partnership with Leopold Markbreit, lasting three days before the war began. After the Confederates had fired on Fort Sumter, Hayes resolved his doubts and joined a volunteer company composed of his Literary Society friends. That June, Governor william Dennison appointed several of the officers of the volunteer company to positions in the 23rd Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Hayes was promoted to major, and his friend and college classmate Stanley Matthews was appointed lieutenant colonel. Joining the regiment as a private was william McKinley, another Future President.
Hayes had been a firm supporter of Republican Reconstruction policies throughout his political career, but the first major act of his presidency was an end to Reconstruction and the return of the South to "home rule". Even without the conditions of the Wormley's Hotel agreement, Hayes would have been hard-pressed to continue the policies of his predecessors. The House of Representatives in the 45th Congress was controlled by a majority of Democrats that refused to appropriate enough funds for the army to continue to garrison the South. Even among Republicans, devotion to continued military Reconstruction was fading in the face of persistent Southern insurgency and violence. Only two states were still under Reconstruction's sway when Hayes assumed the presidency and, without troops to enforce the voting rights laws, these soon fell.
The Democratic nominee was Samuel J. Tilden, the Governor of New York. Tilden was considered a formidable adversary who, like Hayes, had a reputation for honesty. Also like Hayes, Tilden was a hard-money man and supported civil Service reform. In accordance with the custom of the time, the campaign was conducted by surrogates, with Hayes and Tilden remaining in their respective home towns. The poor economic conditions made the party in power unpopular and made Hayes suspect that he might lose the election. Both candidates focused their attention on the swing states of New York and Indiana, as well as the three southern states—Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida—where Reconstruction governments still barely ruled, amid recurring political violence. The Republicans emphasized the danger of letting Democrats run the nation so soon after southern Democrats provoked the Civil War and, to a lesser extent, the danger a Democratic administration would pose to the recently won civil rights of southern blacks. Democrats, for their part, trumpeted Tilden's record of reform and contrasted it with the corruption of the incumbent Grant administration.