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Rutherford B. Hayes Event Timeline

March 04, 1877

Rutherford B. Hayes (19) Event Timeline

03/04/1877 – 03/03/1881


Election Day


Electors cast ballots.  Neither Hayes nor Tilden got the 185 votes needed for election.  Conflicting sets of electoral votes were returned from Florida, Louisiana, Oregon and South Carolina.  Constitutional provision that electoral votes be opened by the president of the Senate did not specify by whom the votes should be counted.  Democrats controlled the House; Republicans the Senate.


Committee formed in House to recommend method for counting votes.


Committee formed in Senate to recommend method for counting votes.




An Act, signed by President Grant, creates a Commission to resolve the contested electoral votes. The commission consists of five members from each house plus five Supreme Court justices.  The commission would decide contested electoral votes by a majority vote of the Commission.


Congressional Commission awards disputed electoral votes to Hayes, who became President.  [Download large pdf of the Congressional Commission Report.]


Oath of office privately administered at White House [March 4 was a Sunday].


President Hayes Inaugurated in public ceremony.


Hayes Cabinet nominations sent to the Senate; opposition to Cabinet from Senate leaders.


After public support, all of Hayes Cabinet nominees approved by this date


Frederick Douglass appointed US Marshal for District of Columbia.


About this date, President Hayes “orders away” remaining Federal troops from Southern states, marking the end of reconstruction [Hayes Diary].


First telephone installed in the White House.


Executive Order Prohibiting Political Assessment of Customs House Employees.


First engagement between the U.S. Army and Nez Perce warriors. Major victory for the Nez Perce.


Executive Order Preventing Federal Employees from Participating in Political Activities.

06/26/1877 – 06/29/1877

Tour of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.



"Great Railroad Strike of 1877." Federal Troops ordered to restore order in Railroad strikes in West Virginia; Maryland (on 07/21) and Pennsylvania (on 07/23).

08/16/1877 –


Tour of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts.

09/07/1877 –


Tour of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia.


Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph surrenders, effectively ending the Nez Perce War of 1877, following the battle of Bear Paw Mountain, Montana Territory.


After firing officials at the NY Customs House, Hayes nominates 3 replacements.


Senate rejects Hayes's nominees for Customs House.


First Annual Message to Congress. Notes "the wisdom and justice of humane and liberal local legislation with respect to [the] education and general welfare" of former slaves.  Aid to the States for public education "is no longer a question." Calls for further aid for technical and higher education. "It is vain to hope for the success of a free government without the means of insuring the intelligence of those who are the source of power." Supports expansion of the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress. Calls for a university in the District of Columbia.




President Hayes Signs the US-Samoan Treaty.


Veto of Bland-Allison Act requiring Treasury to purchase quantities of silver at market prices  (Veto overridden, the only one of Hayes's vetoes overridden.).


Signs Army Appropriations Act containing what has become known as the Posse Comitatus Act, prohibiting the use of the U.S. Army to "execute the laws" unless that use is explicitly authorized in law or by the Constitution.


Suspended Chester Arthur and Alonzo B. Corness from New York Customs House. (Detailed account from New York Herald of 07/12/1878.)

09/04/1878 - 09/24/1878

Tour of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.


Second Annual State of the Union Message.




President Hayes resumes payments in gold for Civil War Greenbacks.


Senate confirms Hayes’s nominees for NY Customs House.

02/15/1879 Signed Act (20 Stat 292) to allow women to practice before the Supreme Court.


Veto of "An act to restrict the immigration of Chinese to the United States," which included terms to modify in part the 1869 Burlingame Treaty.  Hayes argues that modifying an existing treaty "is not competent for Congress."  He also warns that the restrictions in the legislation would put at risk "our citizens in China.


Proclamation Warning Against Unauthorized Settlement in the Indian Territory.


Vetoes Army Appropriations Bill. Hayes objected to language prohibiting use of troops at election sites "to keep peace at the polls."  He argued that no soldier had ever interfered with any election and that laws were already in place to prevent that.  Moreover, he argued that the legislation would "deprive the civil authorities. . . of all power to keep the peace at the Congressional elections."  He stated that "national legislation to provide safeguards for free and honest elections is necessary. . . to secure the right to vote to the enfranchised race at the South, but also to prevent fraudulent voting in the large cities of the North."  Veto sustained.


Vetoes "Act to Prohibit Military Interference at Elections."  Hayes references his prior veto of 04/29/1879 and offers a detailed accounting of prior law relating to the use of the military by the National Government. He notes that under the legislation it would be unlawful to use the Army or Navy "to uphold the authority of the Government of the United States."  Veto sustained. 


Vetoes general Appropriations Bill. The Bill raises the same kinds of concerns raised in the message of 04/29/1879.  "The supervision of the elections will be reduced to a mere inspection, without authority. . .to make the election a fair one."  And, "on the day of an election, peace and good order are more necessary than on any other day of the year." The veto was sustained.


Veto of "An act making appropriations for certain judicial expenditures."  Again citing his veto of 04/29/1879, Hayes writes "It is not sought by the bill before me to repeal the election laws.  Its object is to defeat their enforcement." The veto was sustained.


Veto of "An act making appropriations to pay fees of the United States marshals and their general deputies."  He notes that the bill has sections that are "identical in tenor and effect" to the bill he vetoed on 06/23/1879.  Hayes points out that this is coupled with appropriations in a way to force him to choose either to continue essential functions or to approve legislation to which he has objected.  This legislation has been described by the House historian as an important early example of the use of appropriations "riders."  This strategy was developed by Southern Democrats who were seeking an end to reconstruction. As a consequence of Hayes's insistence, some of the government was not funded until the middle of 1880.  This veto was sustained.

09/09/1879 - 10/18/1879

Tour of Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri.


Signed Act (45 Stat 292) to allow women to practice before the Supreme Court.


Third Annual State of the Union Message.


Transmits to Congress a draft bill to reclaim the marshes of the District of Columbia.




Supports Canal Across the Isthmus Between North and South America.


Veto of "An act making appropriations to supply certain deficiencies in the appropriations for the service of the Government for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1880. Hayes observes, " Under these circumstances, to attempt in an appropriation bill the modification or repeal of these laws is to annex a condition to the passage of needed and proper appropriations, which tends to deprive the Executive of that equal and independent exercise of discretion and judgment which the Constitution contemplates."  This veto was unchallenged.


Vetoes for third time bill about paying Deputy Marshals. Includes strong statement defending national sovereignty. This veto was unchallenged.

08/26/1880 – 11/06/1880

Extended tour including Iowa, Illinois, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico.  First Presidential trip to West Coast.  Visits Yosemite.


James A. Garfield is Elected to Succeed President Hayes.


Two treaties negotiated with China, one regulating immigration, the other trade. 


Fourth Annual State of the Union Message. Calls for prompt and hearty obedience to the equal-rights amendments to the Constitution. "It will be the duty of the Executive . . . to prosecute unsparingly all who have been engaged in depriving citizens of the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution." Universal education is "the best and surest guaranty of the primary rights of citizenship." "Whatever Government can fairly do to promote free popular education ought to be done." There is a need for increased appropriations for "educational facilities for the Indians."

"The conduct of the Indians throughout the country during the past year, with but few noteworthy exceptions, has been orderly and peaceful." Foresees "gradual merging of our Indian population in the great body of American citizenship."




Executive order to ban sale of intoxicating liquors on Army posts.


Veto of Act to Facilitate Refunding of the National Debt.

Last edited 07/25/2023

Rutherford B. Hayes, Rutherford B. Hayes Event Timeline Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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