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Walter Ingalls Hayes (December 9, 1841 - March 14, 1901) was a four-term Democratic U.S. Representative from Iowa's 2nd congressional district during the Gilded Age.

Born in Marshall, Michigan, Hayes attended the common schools and was graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor in 1863. He was admitted to the bar in 1863 and commenced practice in Marshall. In 1864 and 1865, he held the positions of Marshall city attorney, and United States commissioner for the eastern district of Michigan.

Relocating to Iowa as the Civil War came to an end, Hayes became United States commissioner for Iowa, serving from 1865 to 1875. He also became city solicitor of Clinton, Iowa, in 1870. He was the district judge of the seventh judicial district of Iowa from 1875 to 1887. In that capacity, in 1882 he presided over one of the most important cases in the state of that era, in which liquor merchants challenged the enforceability of the 1882 amendment to the Iowa Constitution requiring prohibition. Hayes declared the amendment unconstitutional on procedural grounds, based on the failure of the law to pass both Houses of the Iowa General Assembly in identical form.[1] The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed Hayes' ruling,[2] but in the next session the Iowa General Assembly adopted prohibition, by statute, in a constitutional fashion.[1]

Hayes served as delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1884.

In 1886, Hayes wrested the Democratic nomination for the 2nd district away from incumbent Jeremiah Henry Murphy. To enhance the chances for Iowa Republicans to hold all other Congressional seats in Iowa, the state's General Assembly had included many of the most Democratic-leaning areas of eastern Iowa in a single district (the second). Hayes won the general election that year and represented the 2nd district in the 50th United States Congress. He was also elected to the three succeeding Congresses. However, in 1894, when seeking a fifth term, Hayes was defeated in the general election by Republican George M. Curtis. Between the Civil War and the Great Depression, Hayes was the only Democratic congressman from Iowa to serve more than two terms, and (along with Murphy) was one of only two who served two full terms.

While in Congress, Hayes served as chairman of the Committee on Education in the Fifty-second Congress. In all, he served in Congress from March 4, 1887 to March 3, 1895.

After leaving Congress, Hayes resumed the practice of law in Clinton. He served as member of the Iowa House of Representatives in 1897 and 1898.

He died in Marshall, Michigan, on March 14, 1901. He was interred in Springdale Cemetery in Clinton.


  1. ^ a b Benjamin F. Gue, "History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, Vol. 3," pp. 115, 131 (1902).
  2. ^ Koehler & Lange v. Hill, 60 Iowa 543, 568 (1883).

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.



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