Ohio History Journal

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B O O  K   R  E  V  I  E  W  S






Edited by T. Harry Williams. (New

York: David McKay Company, 1964.

xliv??329p.; introduction, chronology,

dramatis personae, and index. $6.50.)

I approached the assignment to review

this book not only with interest but also

with some concern. As a member of the

staff of the Rutherford B. Hayes Library

and Museum some years ago, I had be-

come acquainted with the president's en-

tire diary, which he kept from his youth

until his death, as well as with the ad-

ditional fund of materials on Hayes's life

and administration to be found in that re-

markable depository. I feared that the ef-

fort to reduce this documentation to one

volume constructed for general sale, could

be accomplished only at considerable sacri-

fice of fact and documentation. My fear

was groundless, for Professor Williams

has succeeded admirably in presenting the

meat of the presidential story, which con-

sists essentially of three parts: Hayes the

man and the president; the presidential

administration; and the development (or

restoration) of the power and authority

of the office of president.

The story is, to a considerable extent,

one of conviction, quiet determination, and

magnificent courage. Hayes came to the

presidency with charges of election frauds

ringing in his ears and the fear of insur-

rection hanging over Washington. More

than willing to accept honest defeat, which

would have released him and his beloved

Lucy to enjoy the life they had just begun

at Spiegel Grove, but convinced that what-

ever voting frauds had been committed by

members of his own party were over-

balanced by Democratic misdeeds in the

South, he accepted the charge of the elec-

toral commission and the congress, re-

solved to give effective leadership.

The diary constitutes a rather sweep-

ing record of the administration, but with

extensive reflections by Hayes upon his

aims, policies, programs, and problems, as

well as upon politicians and other people,

the parties, the country, the South, the

Negro and his rights as a citizen, his fam-

ily, and presidential life. Hayes used his

diary frequently as a testing site for his

thoughts. Here, for example, he jotted

down notes for speeches and for messages

to the congress, thought out his reactions

and rebuttals to party and congressional

actions or maneuverings, recorded the de-

fenses to criticisms of himself and his

administration, analyzed the successes and

weaknesses or mistakes of his policies,

and reported statements of persons and

the press favorable to his efforts.

A perusal of the diary reveals in Hayes

a man of strength who believed his basic

need in the presidency was to restore

peace and the spirit of moderation to the

nation and decency and humanity to the

government. He was convinced too that

these were desired by the people.

In the effort to achieve his goals, how-

ever, he met bitter resistance from his

own party in the congress, from the Demo-