When the lower southern states seceded following the election of Abraham Lincoln, Hayes was willing to "Let them go" (Diary and Letters, vol. 2, p. 4). The attack of Fort Sumter on 12 April 1861, however, infuriated him. On 27 June he was commissioned a major in the Twenty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, preferring to "be killed in the course of it than to live through and after it without taking part in it" (Diary and Letters, vol. 2, p. 17). An inspirational (and lucky) leader in battle, Hayes served four years, was wounded five times (once seriously), was brevetted major general, and emerged from the war a member of Congress. In Congress from 1865 to 1867, Hayes consistently supported Radical Republican Reconstruction measures, and as chair of the Joint Committee on the Library, he worked to develop the Library of Congress into a great institution. Disliking the long separations from Lucy and their children (they would rear four sons and a daughter), in 1867 Hayes happily resigned from Congress to run for governor of Ohio. He was elected and served two terms from 1868 to 1872. He was primarily responsible for the ratification by Ohio of the Fifteenth Amendment and for the establishment of Ohio State University. Hayes loyally supported Ulysses S. Grant for reelection in 1872 and ran for Congress to help the Republican ticket. Although Grant carried Ohio, Hayes was defeated and in May 1873 returned to Fremont.
Ari Hoogenboom, "Hayes, Rutherford Birchard," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/05/05-00331.html.
HAYES, Rutherford Birchard, a Representative from Ohio and 19th President of the United States; born in Delaware, Delaware County, Ohio, October 4, 1822; attended the common schools, the Methodist Academy in Norwalk, Ohio, and the Webb Preparatory School in Middletown, Conn.; graduated from Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, in August 1842 and from the Harvard Law School in January 1845; admitted to the bar on May 10, 1845, and commenced practice in Lower Sandusky (now Fremont); moved to Cincinnati in 1849 and resumed the practice of law; city solicitor 1857-1859; commissioned major of the Twenty-third Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, June 27, 1861; lieutenant colonel October 24, 1861; colonel October 24, 1862; brigadier general of Volunteers October 9, 1864; brevetted major general of Volunteers March 3, 1865; elected as a Republican to the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Congresses and served from March 4, 1865, to July 20, 1867, when he resigned, having been nominated for Governor of Ohio; Governor 1868-1872; unsuccessful candidate for election to the Forty-third Congress; again elected Governor and served from January 1876 to March 2, 1877, when he resigned, having been elected President of the United States; was inaugurated March 5, 1877, and served until March 3, 1881; died in Fremont, Sandusky County, Ohio, January 17, 1893; interment in Oakwood Cemetery; following the gift of his home to the State of Ohio for the Spiegel Grove State Park, was reinterred there in 1915.
"Hayes, Rutherford Birchard," Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 to Present, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=H000393.