Wednesday, August 29, 2012

10 Fun Facts About Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States

1. Rutherford Birchard Hayes was born in 1822 in Delaware, Ohio, near Columbus.  His father died several months before he was born, and he was therefore raised by a single mother who never remarried.  Hayes proved an excellent student, and earned a law degree from Harvard in the 1840's, before returning to Ohio to practice.

2. After transferring his practice to Cincinnati, Hayes married Lucy Webb in 1852.  Lucy would go on to become the first American First Lady with a college degree.

3. Hayes gained prominence as a defense attorney in Cincinnati, and was heavily involved in defending escaped slaves accused under the controversial Fugitive Slave Act.  As a staunch abolitionist and prominent lawyer, Hayes was noticed by the new abolitionist Republican party, and was offered an opportunity to run for a seat as a Republican judge.  He turned down the opportunity, however, and instead accepted an appointment as city attorney for Cincinnati.

4. Following the secession of southern states after Lincoln's election in 1860, Hayes joined the 23rd Ohio volunteers and was given the rank of major.  Also in his unit was future president William McKinley, who would later become a political protege under Hayes.

5. During the war, Hayes moved quickly up the ranks, attaining the position of Major General.  He sustained several injuries in battle, including a broken arm from a gunshot wound at the Battle of South Mountain.  While still serving in 1864, Hayes was nominated by the Republicans for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and although he did not campaign due to his military engagements, he won the seat over the incumbent Democrat.

6. Hayes served two terms as a Congressman from Ohio, then served two terms as Ohio's governor from 1868 to 1872.  During his time in both offices he championed black civil rights and was a staunch supporter of the impeachment of president Andrew Johnson.  After returning for several years to his law practice in Ohio, he was again elected Ohio's governor in 1875.  This third term as Ohio's governor made him a dark horse candidate in the 1876 presidential primary, and after the front-runner was unable to obtain enough votes from the Republican delegates, they instead agree upon Hayes as the Republican nominee for president.

7. The election of 1876 was perhaps the most closely contested in U.S. history.  Democrat Samuel Tilden won the popular vote, and appeared to win the electoral vote too, but three southern states fell into dispute when both Democrats and Republicans claimed victory there and accused the opposition of fraud.  Congress was forced to create a special commission to decide the winner, and it took them until just a few days before the inauguration - early March of 1877 - before a decision was made and agreed on by both parties, with Hayes declared the winner by one electoral vote.

8. Largely due to the influence of his wife, Hayes prohibited alcohol in the White House during his tenure, which effectively brought the Prohibitionist cause into Republican party politics, where it would stay for the next 50 years.  He also began what would prove to be the very long process of reforming the corrupt U.S. civil service.  Though he fought stringently to protect black civil rights in the South, many of his efforts were blocked by southern Democrats, still stinging over what they viewed as a stolen election.

9. Hayes had vowed to only serve one term, and he followed through on that promise, choosing not to run for re-election in 1880.  Instead, he became a trustee of Ohio State University, and supported pet causes and interests, most notably federal student aid, civil rights, wealth disparity, and prison conditions.

10. Hayes died of a heart attack in January of 1893, four years after his wife.  In 1916, the Rutherford B. Hayes Center Library was opened in Fremont, Ohio, and thus became the first presidential library in existence.  Hayes and his wife, as well as Hayes' trusty Civil War horse, Old Whitey, are buried nearby.


Anonymous said...

His beard rules!!!!!!!!!(:

Scott said...

Agreed. We need more beards in American politics.

Anonymous said...

ewww its nastyy 101

Anonymous said...

look at his hair its COMBED OVER!!!

Scott said...

I don't think people washed their hair much back then :) It looks dirty.

Anonymous said...

and boring

Anonymous said...

i put ur beard as my desktop background

Scott said...

Mine, or Rutherford's? Either way, excellent!