Rutherford Birchard Hayes was an American politician and attorney who served as the 19th president of the United States from 1877 to 1881, after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and as governor of Ohio. A lawyer and staunch abolitionist, he had defended refugee slaves in court proceedings during the antebellum years. Hayes served in the Union Army and the House of Representatives before assuming the presidency. Historians consider his presidency the formal end of Reconstruction, as he ended federal efforts to bring racial equality to the South.
An attorney in Ohio, Hayes served as city solicitor of Cincinnati from 1858 to 1861. At the start of the Civil War, he left a fledgling political career to join the Union Army as an officer. Hayes was wounded five times, most seriously at the Battle of South Mountain in 1862. He earned a reputation for bravery in combat and was promoted to the rank of brevet major general. After the war, he served in Congress from 1865 to 1867 as a Republican. Hayes left Congress to run for governor of Ohio and was elected to two consecutive terms, from 1868 to 1872.