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- Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes was the nineteenth president of the United States. Born in Ohio, Hayes was an abolitionist and, as a lawyer, defended runaway slaves. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Hayes joined the Ohio 23rd regiment as a major. Future President William McKinley also enlisted in Hayes’s regiment as a private. Hayes quickly established himself as a war hero. He was wounded in action five times, and had four horses shot from under him. Following the Civil War, breveted Major General Hayes served in Congress representing Ohio, and later became its governor, serving three terms. From there, Hayes went on to win one of the most disputed elections of American history: despite losing the popular vote, he was awarded the electoral votes, and won the election of 1876. Though this compromise kept a Republican in the presidency, it meant the end of Reconstruction, which Hayes had supported. As President, Hayes was conservative in the sense that he banned alcohol in the White House, but he was ahead of his time in advocating for women to be able to present cases in front of the Supreme Court, and supporting equal rights for blacks. He was unusual in that he scrupulously supported meritocracy, and did not appoint cabinet ministers based on nepotism or favoritism. Hayes had committed to serving only one term and kept his word, leaving office in 1881. He died in 1893 at seventy-one.