Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents' Day

Today is Yet Another Holiday, and it's called Presidents' Day.  Tomorrow we can go back to just having regular days, but first we have to celebrate Presidents' Day.  Back in the old days, when Mom was a little kid, people used to celebrate George Washington's birthday and also sometimes Abraham Lincoln's birthday.  But then someone decided it would be easier to have a Generic Presidents' Day when we could just think about all the presidents, or else about the president of our choice.

So I generically chose a president to tell you about, and the president I chose was Mr. Rutherford B. Hayes.  There are two reasons why I chose Mr. Hayes, and one is because he has a funny-sounding first name.  And the other is because he had a bunch of dogs and other animals, which means he must have been a good person and probably a good president, too.  Here's a picture of Mr. Hayes looking presidential:

Mr. Hayes was born in 1822 in the town of Delaware, Ohio, which is confusing name for a town because it sounds like you live in two states at once.  Anyway, Mr. Hayes went to college and then he went to Harvard Law School, and then he became a lawyer in Cincinnati.

In 1852, he married a woman named Lucy Ware Webb.  Here's a picture of them on their wedding day.  I guess in those days, people didn't smile or wear white dresses for their weddings.

Miss Lucy Webb also grew up in Ohio, and she also lived in Delaware, Ohio some of the time.  Then she went to Wesleyan Women's College.  Later on, she became the first First Lady to ever have graduated from college.  She had a strong opinion about slavery, which was that it should be done away with.  So she talked Mr. Hayes into joining the Republican Party because it was against slavery.

During the Civil War, Mr. Hayes was wounded five times, and Mrs. Hayes went to visit him in camp, and she took care of him there.  Also she helped the soldiers get supplies and stuff they needed.  By the end of the War, Mr. Hayes was a Major General.  Then he went into politics and ended up being the governor of Ohio twice.

He got elected president in 1876, but only by one electoral vote, and more of the voters actually voted for the other guy.  A lot of people were unhappy about this, so a bunch of arguing went on, but finally they made a deal, and Mr. Hayes became President Hayes.

Both President and Mrs. Hayes loved animals, so they had a whole bunch of them.  Here's a picture of Mrs. Hayes with their cocker spaniel, who was named Dot.  Mrs. Hayes also had a cat named Piccolomini, a peacock, and a mockingbird.  Mr. Hayes had a black dog named Jet, a Newfoundland named Hector, and a greyhound named Grim.  Also there were Deke, the English mastiff, two hunting dogs named Juno and Shep, and two shepherd dogs.  Oh, and a goat.  But some of these animals were ones they got later after they retired and went back home to Ohio.

President Hayes liked to write in his diary about his dogs.  Grim, the greyhound, was sent to him as a gift from Mrs. William DuPont in Wilmington.  Grim was two years old, and the whole family loved him.  In fact, Grim became famous all over the country.  Then a terrible thing happened, and Grim got killed, which made everybody really sad.  And the way he got killed was that a train hit him because he was just standing on the train track.  President Hayes thought maybe Grim was used to having carriages go around him when he stood in the road, so he thought the train would also go around him.

I think I forgot to mention that the Hayeses had eight children, too.  Three of them died when they were little, but five grew up to be adults.

Anyway, that's all I could find out about the First Animals that Mr. and Mrs. Hayes had, but I learned a few other interesting facts, and here they are:
1.  The first telephone in the White House was put in while Mr. Hayes was president.
2.  Mrs. Hayes was called "Lemonade Lucy" because she thought alcoholic drinks were bad, and she didn't serve them in the White House.
3.  The Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn was invented by Mrs. Hayes.
4.  President Hayes did not try to be president again.  He thought presidents should only serve one term, but that the term should be six years long.
5.  Mr. and Mrs. Hayes retired in Fremont, Ohio.  She died of a stroke in 1889 and he died from a heart attack in 1893.


  1. Which Wilmington? I went to college in Wilmington, Ohio... a fine Quaker school called Wilmington College. I think, however, you might be talking about Wilmington, Delaware. I know all of those Ohio towns mentioned, I think I went to college with someone from each of them. Oh yeah, there is also a Wilmington, North Carolina. I don't know if there are any more Wilmingtons... maybe one in California?
    Aunt Lynn

  2. Dear Aunt Lynn,
    My source, which was a book called First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Best Friends, did not say which Wilmington, so I thought it must be the one in Delaware. I did not know there was a Wilmington in Ohio, so maybe it was that one. Did you go to college with Mrs. Lucy Hayes? She sounds like a nice lady.

  3. I think she was in my gym class!
    Aunt Lynn