Rutherford B. Hayes
19th President of the United States
Born: October 4, 1822 in Delaware, Ohio
Served: March 3, 1877 - March 4, 1881
Died: January 17, 1893 in Fremont, Ohio
Buried: Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the first dead president, and the 23rd overall, that my wife Debbie and I visited on "The Five DPOTUS Tour '05". We started out from Bayonne early in the morning on Saturday, August 27. We drove across I-80 through Pennsylvania (what a drive that was). We continued into Ohio, going past Cleveland and west along the Ohio Turnpike to Fremont. We arrived at the Hayes Presidential Center which is on the grounds of Spiegal Grove, Hay's 25 acre estate, by 2:30 in the afternoon. We first took a tour of his home. After that, we walked through the adjacent Hayes museum. Last, we walked out to his grave. It's out among the trees south of the house in a fenced off area on his estate. The tomb is made of Vermont granite from Hayes father's farm in Dummerston, Vermont. Buried with Hayes is his wife Lucy. Behind their graves are the graves of their son Colonel Webb Cook Hayes (Congressional Medal of Honor recipient) and his wife Mary. Outside the grave area is the burial site for Hayes' two horses; Old Ned and Old Whitey. After leaving Spiegal Grove, we drove north to Sandusky to spend the night. The next day, we continued our trip west toward Chicago.
Hayes' home "Spiegel Grove" was so named for the large puddles of rainwater that collect beneath the towering trees following a storm. "Spiegel" is the German word for mirror. Hayes inherited the property from his uncle, Sardis Birchard. Birchard purchased the property the long admired large wooded acreage in 1846. Its large trees and thick underbrush are said to have reminded him of the German fairy tales of his youth. He kept the property in its natural state until 1859 when he began construction of a house on the property. Birchard never married. His intent was that his nephew and family reside there with him in his retirement.
Construction of the 31-one room mansion took five years because materials and labor were difficult to obtain during the American Civil War. The two story brick home had eight bedrooms and a wrap-around porch. Hayes particularly loved the porch (so did I). In 1873, he wrote in his diary, "The best part of the present house is the veranda (porch). But I would enlarge it. I want a veranda with a house attached!" Hayes spent the next 20 years planning additions and improvements to his home and estate, much as Thomas Jefferson had with his Monticello (another great home). Hayes moved his family into the home in 1873 for two years before leaving to serve as Governor of Ohio and then President of the United States. In 1880, President Hayes prepared for his return from the White House by building a substantial addition and remodeling the interior. The additions included; a library to house his 12,000 books, a large reception room, three bedrooms and indoor plumbing. However, the most spectacular improvement was a four-story staircase leading to a rooftop lantern offering a 360-degree view of Spiegel Grove. In 1889, the Hayes family added more to their home; a back wing was demolished and replaced by a larger one with a large dining room, kitchen, two servants rooms and three more bedrooms. Unfortunately, Mrs. Hayes died during the construction of this last addition to the home.Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 5th child born to Rutherford and Sophia Birchard Hayes who had come to Ohio in 1817 from Dummerston, Vermont. Unfortunately, Rutherford's father died two months before he was born. He became a successful businessman in Lower Sandusky (later Fremont), Ohio. In 1842, Hayes graduated as the valedictorian from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. After studying in a Columbus law office, he entered Harvard Law School, graduating in 1845. Finding little work in Lower Sandusky, he moved Cincinnati where he became a successful lawyer. Politically opposed to slavery, he joined the Republican Party. Rutherford married Lucy Ware Webb of Chillicothe in 1852. They went on to have eight children.
Out the outbreak of the Civil War, Hayes was appointed to the rank of major in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He saw much active service, rising to the rank of major general. He was severely wounded on September 14, 1862, at the Battle of South Mountain. In 1864, while still in the army, he was elected to Congress (despite his refusal to campaign). However, Hayes did not take his seat until the Union had won the war. When asked to come to Washington, he replied he would, "never come to Washington until I can come by Richmond."
After the war, he took his seat in Congress. After being re-elected, Hayes was elected governor of Ohio. He retired after two terms in 1872. After winning a third term in 1875, the Republican Party nominated Hayes as their presidential candidate.
The Election of 1876 was the most controversial in the history of the United States (even more then 2000). Because of all of the scandals surrounding the prior Grant administration, both parties looked to get candidates who could win the public trust. When the votes were counted up, Tilden looked like the easy winner. He had 4,288,546 votes to Hayes' 4,034,311 giving Tilden 51% of the popular vote. However, Tilden was one electoral vote short of the majority needed to win. Hayes had even less electoral votes. The problem was that three southern, and former Confederate states, had sent in two sets of voting results. South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida where Reconstruction Republican governments were still in control submitted two sets of electoral ballots, one favoring Tilden, the other Hayes.
Congress opted to appoint an Electoral Commission to find a solution. The commission consisted of five members of the House, five from the Senate and five justices from the Supreme Court with a party affiliation of seven Republicans, seven Democrats and one Independent. The Independent, Supreme Court Justice David Davis of Illinois (whose grave I also photographed on this trip), dropped out when the Illinois state legislature suddenly appointed Davis to fill an empty seat in the U.S. Senate. Justice Joseph P. Bradley, a Republican, was selected as his replacement. Though a fan of Tilden, he joined the other Republicans and the vote was 8 to 7 along party lines. Hayes was president. However, Southern Democrats planned to block the Commission's report with a filibuster. A secret compromise was worked out to get the Democrats to go along with it, including removal of Federal troops from the former Confederate states and ending Reconstruction in the former Confederacy. Because of the tension surrounding his election, Hayes secretly took the oath of office on Saturday, March 3, 1877, in the Red Room of the White House. Many Democrats were upset with the outcome, referring to Hayes as "His Fraudulency." Knowing what he was up against, he wanted to unite the two sides. In his inaugural address he said, "He who serves his country best serves his party best."
As president, Hayes worked to solve the country's problems. He tried to help the South as much as possible. He appointed many Democrats to key positions. By 1877 it was clear that the nation's voters were no longer willing to use the army to protect the civil rights of the former slaves in the South. Because a hostile Congress refused to provide adequate funds, Hayes reassigned the few remaining troops guarding two Southern statehouses. Before doing so, however, he extracted promises from southern leaders that they would protect southern African Americans in their political, economic, and civil rights. He hoped his actions would heal the wounds left by the Civil War. He initiated civil service reform, aimed at ending patronage, and appointed men with sound qualifications to government positions. He also signed a bill that, for the first time, allowed women attorneys to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court.
While Hayes was president, there was no alcohol served in the White House. He and his wife believed in temperance. His wife even gained the nickname, "Lemonade Lucy." This upset many people who attended state dinners. Secretary of State William M. Everts once replied after an official dinner that, "the water flowed like champagne."
Because of all of the controversy that surrounded his first election, Hayes did not want a second term. So, after he attended the inauguration of his successor, James Garfield, he joyfully went into retirement. It was a lucky choice for him considering Garfield was assassinated six months later. On his return to Ohio, he was involved in a bad train accident (which killed two other passengers). However, once back in Ohio, Hayes slipped into a desired obscurity.
In 1889, his wife Lucy, who he loved very much, died of a stroke. This devastated Hayes who then became very busy with public duties. He became a trustee for Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. In January, 1893, on a train to Cleveland for a meeting at the university he received a chill and became ill. Waiting for the train back to Fremont, he suffered a heart attack at the train station. Despite this, he drank some brandy and got on the train for home. There the doctors sent him to rest in bed where he died days later. He told his son Webb, who was with him at the end, that, "I know I am going where Lucy is." He died eight days short of the 6th anniversary of his wife's death.
It was a cold on January 20, the day of Hayes funeral. The streets of Fremont were covered in snow. Governor (and future president) William McKinley of Ohio attended. Strangely, current president Benjamin Harrison (a Republican like Hayes), who had recently lost his bid for re-election, choose not to make the trip to Ohio, but the president-elect Grover Cleveland (a Democrat) did attend. Their home was packed with mourners as Hayes body, in a cedar casket, lay in state in his dinning room. Veterans of the 23rd Ohio Regiment acted as pall bearers escorting Hayes casket to Freemont's Oakwood Cemetery were he was buried along side his wife.
In 1910, Hayes' son Webb donated the Spiegel Grove estate to Ohio. The first presidential library was built here. In 1915, Rutherford and Lucy were re-interred here. The stone for the monument was so heavy that temporary train tracks had to be built to carry the stone to Spiegel Grove. 16 years later, his son Webb was buried here also.
Here are some websites of interest:
The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
Case Western Reserve University
White House Biography of Rutherford B. Hayes
The Internet Public Library Biography
The American President Biography