The Life Of Rutherford Birchard Hayes

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Excerpt from The Life of Rutherford Birchard Hayes Nineteenth President of the United States, Vol. 1

The Life of Mr. Hayes was to have been written by his most intimate personal and political friend, William Henry Smith. That was Mr. Hayes's hope and Mr. Smith's purpose. Soon after Mr. Hayes's death Mr. Smith began the contemplated work. His plan was to write not a simple biography, but a history to be called T he Life and Times of Hayes.

From the beginning of Mr. Hayes's life to* the time of his Administration as President, the slavery question, in its various ramifications and effects, had been the dominant concern of American politics and statesmanship. The policy toward the South pursued by Mr. Hayes when President practically marked the final passing of the question from national politics. The first half of my active political life, Mr. Hayes wrote in his later years, was first to resist the increase of slavery and secondly to destroy it. The second half has been to rebuild, and to get rid of the despotic and corrupting tendencies and the animosities of the war, and the other legacies of slavery. It was Mr. Smith's wish, therefore, more particularly, to trace the influence of slavery on American political development through the period of its aggres _sive demands, and onwards, until the problems left by the Civil War, which was its inevitable consequence, had been solved.

In spite of failing health, Mr. Smith, at the time of his death, in midsummer, 1896, had substantially completed a large propor tion of his project. From his manuscript, what he had written relating to slavery was extracted, arranged in orderly sequence, and given to the public in 1903 under the title The Political H is tory of Slavery. This is a praiseworthy contribution to American history, though unfortunately deprived of the fuller presentation of certain facts and forces which undoubtedly Mr. Smith would have given his work, could it have had the benefit of a final revision at his hands.

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