October 4th, 2019


Happy Birthday Rutherford Hayes

It was 197 years ago today, on October 4, 1822, that Rutherford Birchard Hayes, the 19th President of the United States, was born in Delaware, Ohio. Hayes was elected in the closest and most controversial presidential election ever (yes, closer and more controversial than even Bush v. Gore). In his single term he presided over the end of Reconstruction and his nation's entry into the second industrial revolution. Hayes was a civil war veteran and a man with a strong belief in education as the answer to many social problems.

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Hayes was the son of Rutherford Hayes Jr. and Sophia Birchard. Hayes's father, a Vermont storekeeper, took the family to Ohio in 1817. He died ten weeks before Rutherford's birth. After briefly reading law in Columbus, Ohio, Hayes moved east to attend Harvard Law School in 1843. He graduated with an LL.B. and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1845. Hayes practiced law in Lower Sandusky (now Fremont) and was city solicitor of Cincinnati from 1858 to 1861.

When the Civil War began, Hayes left a successful political career to join the Union Army. He fought in battle and was wounded five times, most seriously at the Battle of South Mountain. He earned a reputation for bravery in combat and was promoted to the rank of major general. After the war, Hayes served in the U.S. Congress from 1865 to 1867 as a Republican. He left Congress to run for Governor of Ohio and was elected to two consecutive terms, serving from 1868 to 1872. After his second term had ended, he resumed the practice of law for a time, but returned to politics in 1876 to serve a third term as governor.

In 1876, Hayes was nominated as the Republican candidate for president and was elected in what was probably the most contentious and hotly disputed elections in American history. Although he lost the popular vote to Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, Hayes won the presidency by the narrowest of margins after a Congressional commission awarded him twenty disputed electoral votes. Unfortunately for the nation, he secured this result as part of the Compromise of 1877, in which the Democrats acquiesced to Hayes's election and Hayes accepted the end of military occupation of the South. Many African-Americans who were freed slaves lost the protection that the military occupation afforded them and as a result, they lost most if not all of the civil rights they had gained during the presidency of Ulysses Grant. Many were killed by lynching and other brutal means.

In the field of civil service reform, Hayes believed in hiring based on merit and in improvement through education. He ordered federal troops to quell the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 and ordered them out of Southern capitals as Reconstruction ended. He implemented modest civil service reforms that laid the groundwork for further reform in the 1880s and 1890s.

Hayes kept a pledge he had made not to run for re-election. He retired to his home in Ohio and became an advocate of social and educational reform. He was deeply saddened by the passing of his wife Lucy in 1889 and on January 17, 1893 Rutherford Hayes died of complications of a heart attack at his home in Fremont Ohio at the age of 70.

Ranking the Presidents: Dwight Eisenhower

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you grade Dwight Eisenhower, based on the performance of his duties as President? You can go to this link to vote. Dwight Eisenhower was a successful Army General in an age when war had taken on a new appearance from the time when Generals led their troops into battle. Eisenhower wasn't the same kind of general as Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor or Ulysses Grant. His battles were won in their planning. Nevertheless, when he returned home from the war, everyone expected him to be President someday.

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His name at birth was David Dwight Eisenhower, though the first two names would later get reversed. He was born in Denison, Texas, but was raised in Kansas, the state he is mostly associated with, in a large family. His mother was born a Lutheran and later became a Jehovah's Witness. Eisenhower did not belong to any organized church until 1952. He entered West Point against his mother's wishes and graduated in 1915 in the middle of he class. The following year he married Mamie Doud, and the couple had two sons. One also became a General and was a famous historian. The other died at the age of three from Scarlet Fever.

During World War I, Eisenhower's request to serve in Europe was turned down. Instead he commanded a unit that trained tank crews. Following the war, he served under various generals and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in 1941. When the U.S. entered World War II, Eisenhower rose to the rank of five-star general in the United States Army. He served as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe and was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45 from the Western Front. After the war, Eisenhower served as Army Chief of Staff and then took on the role as president of Columbia University. In 1951–52, he served as the first Supreme Commander of NATO.

Prior to the 1948 presidential election, Harry Truman proposed that Eisenhower should run for President, with Truman as his running mate. Eisenhower turned down the offer. Before the 1952, Truman suggested that Eisenhower run again, though as a Democrat. It was then that Eisenhower expressed his displeasure with Truman's policies and entered the presidential race as a Republican. He disagreed with the isolationist foreign policies of Senator Robert A. Taft, who opposed NATO and wanted America to stay out of foreign affairs. He ran on the slogan "I Like Ike" and that seemed to sum up the mood of the voters. Eisenhower won that election and the 1956 election in landslides, both times defeating former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson. He became the first Republican to win the Presidency since 1928.

Eisenhower's main goals in office were to contain the expansion of the Soviet Union and reduce federal deficits. After winning the election in 1952 he kept a campaign promise to visit Korea where the Korean War had come to a stalemate. In 1953, he threatened the use of nuclear weapons until China agreed to peace terms in the Korean War. China did agree and an armistice resulted that remains in effect. He also reshaped the look of the US military by adopting a policy of nuclear deterrence which prioritized inexpensive nuclear weapons while reducing funding for expensive Army divisions. He continued Truman's policy of recognizing the Republic of China as the legitimate government of China, and he won congressional approval of the Formosa Resolution. His administration also provided major aid to help the French fight off Vietnamese Communists in the First Indochina War. After the French left he gave strong financial support to the new state of South Vietnam.

Eisenhower also supported local military coups against democratically-elected governments in Iran and Guatemala. During the Suez Crisis of 1956, he condemned the Israeli, British and French invasion of Egypt, and he forced them to withdraw. He also condemned the Soviet invasion during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 but did not intervene. During the Syrian Crisis of 1957 he approved a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria's pro-Western neighbors.

The Space Race began on Eisenhower's watch. When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, Eisenhower authorized the creation of NASA. He deployed 15,000 soldiers during the 1958 Lebanon crisis. Near the end of his term, he hoped to convene a summit meeting with the Soviets, but the plan failed after a U.S. spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union.

On the domestic front, Eisenhower expanded Social Security. Behind the scenes he opposed Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy and contributed to the end of McCarthyism by openly invoking executive privilege. Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and sent Army troops to enforce federal court orders that integrated schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. But his most lasting and largest program was the Interstate Highway System. He also promoted the establishment of strong science education through the National Defense Education Act.


On September 24, 1955, while vacationing in Colorado, Eisenhower suffered a serious heart attack. His personal physician, misdiagnosed the symptoms as indigestion. The heart attack required six weeks' hospitalization. Many speculated that because of the heart attack, Eisenhower would not be a candidate for a second term as President. But instead, his physician recommended a second term as essential to his recovery and Eisenhower later ran for and won a second term as President. He suffered a mild stroke on November 25, 1957, during a cabinet meeting. He also suffered from Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory condition of the intestine, which necessitated surgery for a bowel obstruction on June 9, 1956.

Eisenhower's two terms in office saw widespread economic prosperity except for a minor recession in 1958. In his farewell address to the nation, Eisenhower expressed his concerns about the dangers of massive military spending, particularly deficit spending and government contracts to private military manufacturers. He warned Americans to watch out for "the military industrial complex". Coming from someone with his military credentials, his warning carried a lot of weight, but was largely ignored by his successors. After his presidency, he remained an elder statesman who was often consulted by his successors. On the morning of March 28, 1969, Eisenhower died in Washington, D.C., from congestive heart failure while at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was 78 years old.

Eisenhower was popular among the general public when he left office, but when he left office, historians like the Democrat Arthur Schlesinger tried to portray Eisenhower as a "do-nothing" president. They spun Eisenhower as someone who spent more time on the golf course than in the oval office. He was also criticized for his refusal to battle publicly with Senator Joseph McCarthy, and his reluctance to assume active party leadership. But as historians dug deeper, and as formerly classified material became available, it was discovered that Eisenhower shrewdly maneuvered behind the scenes, avoiding controversial issues while retaining control of his administration. Recent polls of historians and political scientists have generally ranked Eisenhower among the top 10 presidents. A 2018 poll of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents and Executive Politics section ranked Eisenhower as the seventh best president, while a 2017 C-Span poll of historians ranked Eisenhower as the fifth best president.

Historian John Lewis Gaddis wrote: "Historians long ago abandoned the view that Eisenhower's was a failed presidency. He did, after all, end the Korean War without getting into any others. He stabilized, and did not escalate, the Soviet-American rivalry. He strengthened European alliances while withdrawing support from European colonialism. He rescued the Republican Party from isolationism and McCarthyism. He maintained prosperity, balanced the budget, promoted technological innovation, facilitated (if reluctantly) the civil rights movement and warned, in the most memorable farewell address since Washington's, of a 'military–industrial complex' that could endanger the nation's liberties. Not until Reagan would another president leave office with so strong a sense of having accomplished what he set out to do."

Part of his legacy is the formal creation of the office of White House Chief of Staff – an idea he borrowed from the United States Army. Every president since has followed this example.


The Interstate Highway System is officially known as the "Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways" in his honor. It was inspired in part by Eisenhower's own experiences in World War II, when he recognized the advantages of the autobahn system in Germany. Commemorative signs reading "Eisenhower Interstate System" and bearing Eisenhower's permanent 5-star rank insignia were introduced in 1993 and now are displayed throughout the Interstate System. Several highways are also named for him, including the Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate 290) near Chicago. the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70 west of Denver, and Interstate 80 in California.