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246CIVIL WAR HISTORY RutherfordB. Hayes: Warrior andPresident. By Ari Hoogenboom. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995. Pp. xii, 626. $45.00.) Rutherford B. Hayes represented the best in American Ufe in both his pubUc and private personas. Blessed with an equitable temperament and an optimistic spirit, he was devoted to family, friends, and his miUtary and poUtical comrades. Steady, fair-minded, with abundant common sense, he was a stabilizing force in an era that urgently needed one. Healers and conciliators seldom get the plaudits they are due unless, like Lincoln, they operate in moments of intense emotional crisis. Thus Hayes, caught between sharply contesting interests during his presidential years, has been criticized for not assuming a more partisan role in support of causes championed by some recent interpreters of Reconstruction and the Gilded Age. No one should write further about Hayes without first digesting Ari Hoogenboom 's exceUent biography. He captures the whole man and clearly deUneates how he operated within the limits imposed by the extraordinary contentiousness of mid-to-late nineteenth-century America. In his "matter of fact style," President Hayes addressed the great problems of bis day: bringing the South into full poUtical partnership while trying to assure civil rights for former slaves; reacquiring presidential powers from an assertive Congress; initiating civil service reforms; seeking humane policies for the American Indian; mitigating extreme positions toward Chinese exclusion. He did not duck, he did not waffle. He did, however, modify his stance from time to time as his understanding ofpoUtical reaUties dictated. "He was above all, a pragmatic reformer" (2). Hayes's presidency resulted in part from his outstanding Civil War record. The camaraderie of men engaged in a worthy cause was always his deUght. Here was an essentially gentle man—a pacifier in the civilian world—who reveled in army Ufe. Striking a death blow to slavery was perhaps more important to him man preserving the Union. Hayes had a happy temperament for the soldier's Ufe. He rejoiced in the strengths of his commanding officers—Rosecrans, Crook, Hunter, Sheridan— rather than carping about their faults. More interested in results than in personal glory, he looked for the positive in the men serving under him, developing a strong bond with them based on pride in the 23d Ohio Volunteer Infantry and its stellar record. The war remained forever the high point ofhis busy and productive Ufe. It was "perhaps his most congenial activity," and until his death, he led organizations of veterans of "the best war ever fought" (503). Historians and biographers have not ignored Hayes. Charles R. Williams, T. Harry Williams, Harry Barnard, and Kenneth Davison are perhaps his bestknown interpreters, but Hoogenboom's book is the first comprehensive biography in forty years. It challenges, successfuUy, in my view, some of the less generous readings of Hayes's motives and policies during his presidential years. Hoogenboom's study rests to an unusual degree on primary sources. BOOK REVIEWS247 Hayes was a saver. His correspondence, diaries, and supportive materials are conveniently held in the Hayes Memorial Library in Fremont, Ohio. Given this penchant for saving the stuff of history, one is surprised to find no mention of his presidency (1892-93) of die infant Ohio Historical Society. A more central facet of his post-presidential years, however, was the leadership he gave to educational reform. Hoogenboom has it right: among presidents since Hayes, only Jimmy Carter has been involved in as many constructive social programs. Throughout his life, Hayes was sustained by die love and friendship ofthose close to him. Conspicuous among diem were his mother, Sophia; his sister Fanny; his uncle Sardis Birchard (a surrogate father); and his wife, Lucy. Theirs was a major contribution to the emotional stability that marked his life. Hayes survived five Civil War wounds, none of them life-threatening, and he repeatedly won close elections, facts diat led people to refer to "Hayes' luck." Perhaps his luck will hold as this thorough, insightful, and fair-minded book earns for Hayes the enhanced reputation that is his due. George W. Knepper The University of Akron The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln. By Michael BurUngame. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994. Pp. 380...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 246-247
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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