"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Monday, May 9, 2016

Rutherford B. Hayes

This 1881 portrait by Eliphalet Andrews of Rutherford B. Hayes hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
"The presidential election of 1876 was among the closest in American history. Although Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden won the popular vote by 250,000, his Electoral College total was one short of the majority needed for election. Republican Rutherford B.Hayes would not concede because of disputed results in Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oregon. Both parties agreed to appoint an electoral Commission, which awarded the Florida vote and presidency to Hayes. A prior secret agreement between Republicans and Democrats made Hayes president in return for his withdrawal of federal troops from the South. This effectively ended Reconstruction and black political participation in the South and it restored the rule of the Democratic Party there. Even though he was not a strong president, Hayes did take initial steps toward curbing corruption in the civil service." -- National Portrait Gallery

The Portrait Gallery discussed Andrews' portrait of Hayes in another context this way.
"Republican presidential hopeful Rutherford B. Hayes went to bed on election night of 1876 thinking that he had lost the contest. But charges of ballot-tampering led to prolonged investigations of the vote count in several states. Out of this inquiry, itself marked by backstairs chicanery, Hayes finally emerged triumphant by a single electoral vote.

All of the irregularities surrounding his election led some to view Hayes as 'His Fraudulency.' But questions about his legitimate right to office did not prevent this former Ohio governor from being an able chief executive. Among his presidential accomplishments were the termination of the harsh policies that had been imposed on the South since the Civil War and the first significant steps toward curbing rampant corruption in the civil service.

Hayes's portraitist, Eliphalet Andrews, was the founding director of Washington, D.C.'s Corcoran School of Art. In addition to this bust portrait, the German-trained Andrews painted a three-quarter-length likeness of Hayes that now resides at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio." -- National Portrait Gallery

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