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    Rutherford B. Hayes Historic Autograph Letter Signed: Hayes recounts how "out of abundant caution," just four days after being declared the winner in the disputed election of 1876, he was inaugurated President in the White House two days before his public inauguration.

    Signed: "Rutherford B. Hayes", one page, 5" x 8". Spiegel Grove, Fremont, Ohio, June 8, 1889. To Henry Phillips, Jr., Philadelphia. In full: "My Dear Sir, The inauguration of Gen Hayes in 1877, as President, took place Monday, Mch 5- On the Fourth of March, Sunday, no ceremony occurred. But out of abundant caution on Saturday, the 3d of March, the oath of office was administered at the Executive Mansion by Chief Justice Waite in the presence of President Grant, Secretary of State Fish, and a few other persons. Sincerely."

    After the November 7, 1876, election results were tabulated, 20 electoral votes were disputed. Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina turned in two sets of electoral votes, one from the official election supervisory agency supporting Tilden and another from the carpetbag governments supporting Hayes. Northerners who went to the South after the Civil War and took part in Reconstruction governments (generally Republicans), when persons who had supported the Confederacy were still not allowed to hold public office, were called carpetbaggers. In addition, one Republican Oregon elector was a government employee. Technically, this made him ineligible to serve as an elector. Oregon had a Democratic governor who claimed the right to appoint a Democrat to replace the elected Republican.

    After a month of hearings, on February 27, 1877, the Electoral Commission, comprising eight Republicans and seven Democrats, voted along party lines and gave all 20 disputed votes to the Republican Governor of Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes, giving him 185 electoral votes to 184 for Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, Governor of New York. Hayes then resigned as Governor of Ohio. The U.S. Senate, after days of debate, confirmed the electoral vote count at 4:10 A.M. on Friday, March 2, 1877.

    Included with Hayes's letter is an original admission ticket to "Counting the Vote for President and Vice-President" admitting the bearer "To Gallery of House of Representatives," 4.75" x 3", numbered 1426, dated March 1, 1877. Signed in facsimile by Thomas W. Ferry, President pro tempore of the Senate, and Samuel J. Randall, Speaker of the House.

    Since Inauguration Day, March 4, 1877, fell on a Sunday, the public swearing-in of Grant's successor would take place on Monday, March 5th. Fearing that during the one-day gap between the end of Grant's term and the inauguration, dissidents might try to install Tilden as President (hinted at by Hayes in this letter: "out of abundant caution"), President Grant and Secretary of State Hamilton Fish suggested that Hayes be sworn in as President by Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite in a private ceremony in the White House on Saturday, March 3, 1877. The public ceremony on Monday, March 5, 1877, took place without incident at the east end of the Capitol. Chief Justice Waite once again administered the oath of office. Many historians believe that the Democrats accepted their defeat with a promise from the Republicans that they would remove all Federal troops remaining in former Confederate states, effectively ending Reconstruction.

    Henry Phillips, Jr. (1838-1895) was treasurer (1862) and secretary (1868) of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia, and a secretary (from 1880) and the librarian (from 1885) of the American Philosophical Society. His works on the paper currency of the American colonies, "History of American Colonial Paper Currency" (1865), and on American Continental money, "History of American Continental Paper Money" (1866), were the first on those subjects. Phillips undoubtedly had written Hayes with questions about his inauguration.

    This historic letter concerning the first disputed presidential inauguration in U.S. history is in extra fine condition. Signed by Hayes with his rare, full signature, it would be a significant addition to a presidential collection. From the Gary Grossman Collection.


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    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
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