This Day in History: A forgotten president is born

Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th president of the United States, is undoubtedly one of the least remembered commanders-in-chief in the nation's history.

He was born on this day in 1822 in Delaware, Ohio. Though not born into a wealthy family, Hayes went on to study law at Harvard University. As a young lawyer, he lived in his office briefly to save money while building his practice.

Hayes, an honest and principled man who didn't drink, was nicknamed “Old Granny” for his attention to manners. He and his family were also temperance reformers and fervent abolitionists. His wife Lucy is believed to have insisted that her husband ban all alcohol from the White House -- an act that shocked visiting dignitaries and earned her the moniker “Lemonade Lucy.” However, it was originally Hayes’ idea to impose temperance on White House visitors.

Cabinet members and advisors would frequently join Hayes and his family in prayer and in singing hymns. Supporters appreciated Hayes’ sense of fairness and willingness to work with both parties -- a marked contrast to the corrupt administrations of his two predecessors, Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant. Cynics and detractors disenchanted with such corruption, however, were quick to label him a fraud.

Hayes, who fought on the Union side in the Civil War, presided over the end of post-Civil War Reconstruction. In an effort to appease Southern Democrats, he agreed to yank the last federal troops out of the former Confederate states, mistakenly thinking that Southern politicians would enforce civil rights for black Americans. Hayes fought legislation meant to prevent Chinese immigration into the United States and resisted partisan pressure in appointing federal positions.

Despite campaigning on a pro-labor platform, Hayes upset workers when he dispatched federal troops to put down the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. He served only one term, which ended in 1881, and died in 1893.

Had you ever heard of Hayes before?

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