Rutherford B. Hayes Diary entry, August 5, 1877

This August 5, 1877 entry in his diary, President Rutherford B. Hayes affirms his views of limited government and the free labor right of contract, as well as his concerns about the "capitalists."

August 5, 1877

The strikes have been put down by force; but now for the real remedy. Can't something [be] done by education of the strikers, by judicious control of the capitalists, by wise general policy to end or diminish the evil? The railroad strikers, as a rule, are good men, sober, intelligent, and industrious. The mischiefs are:

  • 1. Strikers prevent men willing to work from doing so.
  • 2. They seize and hold the property of their employers.
  • 3. The consequent excitement furnishes an opportunity for the dangerous criminal classes to destroy life and property.

Now, "every man has a right, if he sees fit to, to quarrel with his own bread and butter, but he has no right to quarrel with the bread and butter of other people." Every man has a right to determine for himself the value of his own labor, but he has no right to determine for other men the value of their labor. (Not good.)

Every man has a right to refuse to work if the wages don't suit him, but he has no right to prevent others from working if they are suited with the wages.

About this Document

  • Source: Rutherford B. Hayes Diary
  • Editor: Charles Richard Williams
  • Publisher: Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society
  • Published: Columbus, Ohio
  • Note: Accessed online on November 15, 2007 at
  • Date: 1922