Tag Archives: Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford Observed: A Presidential Visit to Richmond & the State Fair, Oct. 31, 1877

First, a pre-blog promotional announcement! The Library of Virginia has a booth of its own, 627 in the Farm Bureau Center building, at the Virginia State Fair.  In your wanderings through the fair, don’t pass this opportunity to visit and learn something new about your state library. Virginia Newspaper Project cataloger Kelley Ewing will be manning the booth on Sunday from 9:45 to 4, so come on out and say hello!

Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President, was, like his predecessor Ulysses Grant, a Republican.  Hayes kept a diary.  The entry for November 3, 1877 was brief:

“Our trip to Richmond & return Oct 30, 31 & Nov 1. was altogether a happy and successful one.  There are thousands of intelligent people who are not Democrats, & who would like to unite with the Conservative Republicans of the North.”  That expectation would be postponed until well into the next century.  As for the visit itself, his impression was quite accurate.

Hayes was greeted at the Virginia State Fair (at this time located on N. Boulevard near what’s now the Diamond) and in passage downtown to the Exchange Hotel with great warmth by enormous crowds. This despite the majority of Virginians voting a year ago for his Democratic opponent, Governor Tilden of New York, by a margin that was well beyond dispute. Final returns were not so decisive in three other southern states and on this question the election turned.

How Tilden won the popular vote and seemingly the Electoral College but  still lost the election is a story of no small interest to anyone fascinated by human corruption and guile.  How mollifying  the sound in history texts of “The “Compromise of 1877”  compared to, say, “Backroom Deal of the Century”, for not just the presidency, but the political autonomy and … read more »

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