cover image Amer Pres: Hayes

Amer Pres: Hayes

Hans Louis Trefousse. Times Books, $22 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6908-2

Like our current chief executive, Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893) came to power after a disputed election in 1876, arbitrated by a special congressional electoral commission that handed him the office and left him tarred as ""the fraudulent president"" for the rest of his term. Trefousse, a history professor emeritus at the City University of New York and biographer of Andrew Johnson, offers a straightforward, by-the-numbers life (part of the Times Books American Presidents series, edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.) that hurries through Hayes's days as an eager student at Kenyon College and Harvard Law School to focus on his Ohio governorship and his single term as president. Hayes effectively ended Reconstruction, withdrawing federal troops and Republican regimes from the South to make way for the Democrats-a controversial move that spelled the end of black rights in the South, though Trefousse argues that Hayes had little choice and the best of intentions in terms of protecting blacks. Though it's not much of a character study, this is a concise, informative account for those who want to brush up on their Reconstruction history.