The Best Biographies of Rutherford B. Hayes

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

rutherford_b_hayes_stampAfter two weeks, two biographies and about seven hundred pages, Rutherford Hayes reminds me of a better-intentioned, more savvy and far more intellectually gifted version of Franklin Pierce.

Neither comes to mind when considering which have been the most memorable (or successful) chief executives in the nation’s history. And sadly, neither has a particularly deep field of biographies from which to choose.

The first Hayes biography I read was “Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior & President” by Ari Hoogenboom. Published in 1995, this was the first comprehensive biography of Hayes written in four decades. It proved detailed, well-researched, thoughtful and thorough. (See review here)

Written by an author sympathetic to Hayes, at both its beginning and end it attempted to convince the reader that Hayes was a far more decent and progressive chief executive than history recalls. During most of the book, however, Hoogenboom followed a facts-only style which was…

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