#27. Taft, William H

18 Days

Until November 3

&

A President Will Be Chosen

In 1908

William H Taft became the 27th United States president receiving 1,264,026 more Popular Votes than his opponent. 

  • 7,676,320 Americans voted for William H Taft
  • 6,412,294 Americans voted for his opponent

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – 

To be continued….

 

#26. Roosevelt, Theodore

19 Days

Until November 3

&

A President Will Be Chosen

Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th United States president after the death of William McKinley, who was elected in 1900, so did not attain office by Popular Votes.

In 1904

Theodore Roosevelt remained the 26th United States president receiving 2,544,238 more Popular Votes than his opponent.

  • 7,628,461 Americans voted for Theodore Roosevelt.
  • 5,084,223 Americans voted for his opponent

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – 

To be continued….

 

#25. McKinley, William

20 Days

Until November 3

&

A President Will Be Chosen

In 1896

William McKinley became the 25th United States president receiving 609,687 more Popular Votes than his opponent.

  • 7,102,246 Americans voted for William McKinley
  • 6,492,559 Americans voted for his opponent

In 1900

William McKinley remained the 25th United States president receiving 861,757 more Popular Votes than his opponent.

  • 7,218,491 Americans voted for William McKinley
  • 6,356,734 Americans voted for his opponent

 

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – 

To be continued….

 

#24. Cleveland, Grover

21 Days

Until November 3

&

A President Will Be Chosen

In 1892

Grover Cleveland became the 24th United States president receiving 372,736 more Popular Votes than his opponent.

  • 5,555,426 Americans voted for Grover Cleveland
  • 5,182,690 Americans voted for his opponent

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Stephen Grover Cleveland (March 18, 1837 – June 24, 1908) was the 24th president of the United States, from 1893-1897. He was also the 22nd president of the United States, we talked about him just two days ago.

To be continued….

 

#23. Harrison, Benjamin

22 Days

Until November 3

&

A President Will Be Chosen

In 1888

Benjamin Harrison became the 23rd United States president although his opponent received 90,728 more Popular Votes.

  • 5,447,129 Americans voted for Benjamin Harrison
  • 5,537,857 Americans voted for his opponent

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Benjamin Harrison VIII (August 20, 1833 – March 13, 1901) was the 23rd president of the United States from 1889 to 1893. He was a grandson of the ninth president, William Henry Harrison, creating the only grandfather–grandson duo to have held the office.

To be continued….

 

#22. Cleveland, Grover

23 Days

Until November 3

&

A President Will Be Chosen

In 1884

Grover Cleveland became the 22nd United States president receiving 29,214 more Popular Votes than his opponent.

  • 4,879,507 Americans voted for Grover Cleveland
  • 4,850,293 Americans voted for his opponent

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Stephen Grover Cleveland (March 18, 1837 – June 24, 1908) was the 22nd president of the United States, from 1885-1889. He was also the 24th president of the United States, from 1893-1897, the only president in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office.

To be continued….

 

#21. Arthur, Chester A

24 Days

Until November 3

&

A President Will Be Chosen

 

Chester A Arthur became president after the death of James A Garfield, who was elected in 1880, so did not attain office by Popular Votes.

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Chester Alan Arthur (October 5, 1829 – November 18, 1886) was the 21st president of the United States, from 1881 to 1885, coming into office after the death of James Garfield.

To be continued….

 

#20. Garfield, James A

25 Days

Until November 3

&

A President Will Be Chosen

In 1880

James A Garfield became the 20th United States president receiving 39,213 more Popular Votes than his opponent.

  • 4,453,295 Americans voted for James A Garfield
  • 4,414,082 Americans voted for his opponent

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881) was the 20th president of the United States, from March 4, 1881, until his death by assassination six and a half months later. Two words come to mind when I read the story of James’ life: What If? What if his presidency had lasted more than six months? He had high ideals – what impact might he have made on our country? What if x-ray had already been invented when he was shot? His wound wouldn’t even be considered serious today, and he wouldn’t have suffered the infection caused by endless probing with unsterilized fingers, and instruments. What if he hadn’t cheated on his wife? What if his mother hadn’t gone through a scandalous divorce? What if? We can only follow the consequences of those actions in James Garfield’s life. He did overcome the poverty he was born into. He did study so hard and learn so much he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He did build a strong enough marriage with Lucretia Rudolph that they had seven children together, and she was there at his bedside during those last awful months.

Would I invite this man to my party? No, I would not. A pallor of sadness hung over James Garfield. Nothing he did seemed to make him proud, or content – and this was a guy who spoke Latin and Greek and had the mathematical talent to develop a trapezoid proof of the Pythagorean theorem! “Ha, guess I showed you” is the attitude that comes across. He once wrote “I lament that I was born to poverty, and in this chaos of childhood, seventeen years passed before I caught any inspiration … a precious 17 years when a boy with a father and some wealth might have become fixed in manly ways.”

To be continued…

 

#19. Hayes, Rutherford B

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Rutherford Birchard Hayes (October 4, 1822 – January 17, 1893) was the 19th president of the United States, from 1877 to 1881. He was the first president to graduate from law school – Harvard Law School at that; the only one of the five presidents who served in the Civil War who was wounded (more than once); and the first president to come into office after losing the popular vote. In fact, he almost wasn’t president at all. Remember, the country was still in a period of distress and reconstruction when Grant declined a third term.

On November 11, 1876, three days after election day, Democrat Tilden appeared to have won 184 electoral votes, one short of a majority. Republican Hayes appeared to have 166, with the 19 votes of Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina still in doubt. After an Electoral Commission declared Hayes the victor, outraged Democrats attempted a filibuster to prevent Congress from accepting the findings. It took a compromise to move forward, a big compromise, which essentially stated that Democrats would acknowledge Hayes as president only if certain demands were met:

  • Removal of all remaining US military forces from Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
  • Appointment of at least one Southern Democrat to Hayes’ cabinet.
  • Construction of another transcontinental railroad using the Texas and Pacific in the South.
  • Legislation to help industrialize the South and restore its economy.

On March 2, the filibuster ended, and on Saturday, March 3, Rutherford Hayes became the first president to be sworn in at the Red Room of the White House. This ceremony was held in secret under tight security, due to the bitter divisiveness of the election. The public ceremony took place on Monday, March 5, at the East Portico of the Capitol. The Presidential Oath of Office, in case you don’t know, is “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That is what Rutherford said that day, but when I review what he did for the next four years, and for all the years before, and after, I’m reminded of the Boy Scout Oath — I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country….to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

And his wife Lucy was just the same. Yes, I’d invite them both to my party, and hope we’d become lifelong friends. Just listen to the way they lived their lives.

Before

Rutherford Hayes had something in common with Andrew Jackson – his father died just weeks before he was born, and his mother never remarried. But the resemblance to their path to the presidency ends there. Sophia Hayes raised daughter Fanny and son Rutherford with the help of her brother, Sardis Birchard. Both the Hayes and Birchard families were descended from New England colonists – hardy stock. Rutherford was born in Delaware, Ohio and first went to common schools there; then to Webb School in Connecticut, a preparatory school where he studied Latin and Greek. Back to college in Ohio where he earned highest honors – graduating as class valedictorian. By then, he’d gotten interested in politics. So next step – Harvard Law School, of course. The year was 1843; Rutherford was 21 when he decided on that path. He was 23 when he graduated, was admitted to the Ohio bar, and opened his own law office.

A move to Cincinnati in 1850 put him just across the river from the slave state of Kentucky, and his focus changed from dealing primarily with commercial issues to criminal law. Ohio was a destination for escaping slaves, and Rutherford defended slaves who had been accused under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. He became a successful criminal defense lawyer and found the work personally gratifying, but it also was politically useful, as it raised his profile in the Republican Party. And socially, he joined the Literary Society, attended the Episcopal Church, and courted Lucy Webb. They married December 30, 1852 at her mother’s house – he was 30, she was 21.

I Love Lucy

Lucy Webb (1831-1889) and Rutherford Hayes first met at Ohio Wesleyan University. Lucy was 14. Yes, she was a smart girl, in fact, the first First Lady to have a college degree. She was too young for Rutherford at 14 (he was 23), but when they met again in Cincinnati, things changed. Lucy and Rutherford were members of the same wedding party the summer she was 19. It was one of those affairs where a gold ring was baked into the wedding cake as a prize. Perhaps a tradition like the bride tossing her bouquet? Rutherford got the piece of cake that had the ring, and he gave it to Lucy. After the two were engaged, she returned the ring to him, and he wore it for the rest of his life.

Too sentimental for a criminal defense lawyer who became president? Listen to what he wrote in his diary about her in 1851: “I guess I am a great deal in love with L(ucy). … Her low sweet voice … her soft rich eyes….She sees at a glance what others study upon….She is a genuine woman, right from instinct and impulse rather than judgment and reflection.”

And Then There Was a War

Rutherford was lukewarm about the idea of a civil war; as states began to secede after Lincoln’s election, his opinion was to “let them go.” His feelings changed after the attack on Fort Sumter however; he joined a volunteer company composed of his Literary Society friends. Things moved rapidly; he was promoted to major in the 23rd Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry; the 23rd was assigned to western Virginia. War Hero stories now – Rutherford led several raids against rebel forces; sustained a knee injury and later, in northern Virginia, was shot through his left arm, fracturing the bone. With a handkerchief tied above the wound to stop the bleeding, he continued to lead his men. Hospitalized for a bit, he was back in the thick of it; the Shenandoah Valley Campaigns of 1864; Rutherford took a bullet to the shoulder; had a horse shot out from under him; and kept going. Victory after victory as they broke through Confederate lines; an ankle sprain when thrown from a horse; a bullet to his head from a spent round. His leadership and bravery drew attention; Grant wrote of him: “His conduct on the field was marked by conspicuous gallantry as well as the display of qualities of a higher order than that of mere personal daring.” In May of 1865 the 23rd returned to Ohio to be mustered out of service.

Government Positions

  • Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1865-67
  • Governor of Ohio, 1868-72
  • Governor of Ohio, 1876-77
  • 19th President of the United States, 1877-1881

As a president coming into office with a Congress full of angry Democrats, Rutherford fought for several things that didn’t happen.

  • My task is to wipe out the color line, to abolish sectionalism, to end the war and bring peace,” he wrote in his diary. His efforts failed to persuade the South to accept legal racial equality or to convince Congress to appropriate funds to enforce the civil rights laws.
  • Civil service appointments had been based on the spoils system since Andrew Jackson’s presidency. Believing that federal jobs should be awarded by merit according to an examination, he was unable to convince Congress, but did issue an executive order forbidding federal office holders from being required to make campaign contributions or taking part in party politics.

Rutherford may have been blocked by Congress, but Lucy definitely made headway with things in the White House. Imagine moving into the White House after the war years –it was a mess! Lucy scrounged around in the attic and rearranged things to hide the holes in the carpets and drapes. Significant changes made to the White House during Hayes’ term were the installation of bathrooms with running water, but the biggest change involved the “billiard room,” a room that connected the house with the greenhouse conservatories. Lucy put the billiard table in the basement, opened the shuttered windows in the State Dining Room, and enlarged the greenhouses, offering guests a beautiful view. Every day flowers were brought in from the greenhouses to decorate the White House, and additional bouquets were sent to Washington hospitals.

Music was important to Lucy. Not only did famous musicians perform at White House events downstairs; they had informal “sings” upstairs in the family quarters. Lucy sang and played the guitar; the vice president and various cabinet members often played the piano and sang gospel songs. In general, Lucy had a casual family style; during the holidays, she invited staff members and their families to Thanksgiving dinner and opened presents with them on Christmas morning. Lucy allowed White House servants to take time off to attend school.

Lucy was the first First Lady to use a typewriter, a telephone, and a phonograph while in office. And she was fond of animals – a cat, a bird, two dogs and a goat were part of the Hayes family; remember, son Scott was 6 and daughter Fanny 10 at the time they moved in; three older sons were 19, 21 and 24. Reporters loved to write about Lucy; an article in the New York Herald said of her: “Mrs. Hayes is a most attractive and lovable woman. She is the life and soul of every party … For the mother of so many children she looks … youthful.”

Note: the White House during the Hayes’ stay was alcohol free. Rutherford made that decision early on, dismayed by drunken behavior he’d observed at receptions around Washington.

After

Rutherford kept his promise to serve only one term and the Hayes family returned to their Fremont, Ohio home, Spiegel Grove, in 1881. He became an advocate for educational charities and federal education subsidies for all children. He believed education was the best way to heal the rifts in American society and allow people to improve themselves. He emphasized the need for vocational, as well as academic, education: “I preach the gospel of work,” he wrote, “I believe in skilled labor as a part of education.” In 1889 he gave a speech encouraging black students to apply for scholarships from the Slater Fund, one of the charities with which he was affiliated. One such student, W. E. B. Du Bois, received a scholarship in 1892.

Lucy joined the Woman’s Relief Corps, attended reunions of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and entertained visitors to Spiegel Grove. She also became national president of the newly formed Woman’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church. As president, she called attention to the plight of the urban poor and disenfranchised African-Americans in the South. She also spoke out against Mormon polygamy.

Lucy died on June 25, 1889 after suffering a stroke. She was 57 years old. Rutherford died of a heart attack on January 17, 1893, at the age of 70. They are buried side by side at Spiegel Grove. Also buried there is their dog Gryme and two horses — Old Whitey and Old Ned.

Good Scouts, to the end.

 

#18. Grant, Ulysses S

October 7, 2020. Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Ulysses S Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was the 18th president of the United States, from 1869 to 1877. I won’t pull a Groucho Marx on you by asking “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” but I wonder if you know WHY the tomb of Ulysses and Julia Grant is in New York City – Riverside Drive and W 122nd in Manhattan, to be exact. After all, he was born in Ohio and she was born in Missouri. Part of the answer is simply that’s where they were living when Ulysses died in 1885 and she wanted to easily be able to visit his grave. His only request was that his wife could be buried by his side, which left out military cemeteries (they didn’t accept women). But the clincher was this – within hours of Ulysses’ death, the Mayor offered New York as a burial place. Not long after the funeral, fundraising for a splendid monument began; the “military” design, based on Napoleon’s tomb, was completed in 1897, and Julia was buried beside her husband upon her death in 1902. The monument has been under the management of the National Park Service since 1958.

You might want to visit the site, because everything about the lives of Ulysses and Julia Grant is somewhat – unusual. Like the fact that Ulysses was a little guy, not the gigantor war hero I’d always envisioned. He was 5’2” when he arrived at West Point, although he did keep growing; the record books say he achieved 5’8” and about 150 pounds by the time he was president. And do you know why images of Julia are generally a profile view? She was cross-eyed. She was afraid of surgery in her younger days; when she became First Lady, she decided she should look better, but Ulysses objected: “Did I not see you and fall in love with you with these same eyes? I like them just as they are.” Sweet, and an example of the attraction between the two that had her following him around the country when he was fighting in wars! He wanted her near, and she wanted to be near. Ulysses S Grant is more remembered for his military accomplishments than his presidency, but he NEVER wanted a military career. Would I invite this man to my party? Yes, and Julia too. Their lives had more ups and downs than a Coney Island roller coaster, but they hung together to the end.

You’re In The Army Now

Ulysses liked horses. Father Jesse Grant was foreman of a tannery, which Ulysses didn’t like, so Jesse gave him the job of driving wagonloads of supplies during the years before he left for West Point in 1843, age 17. Ulysses was well-schooled by the time he got to West Point, and he did moderately well there, but enjoyed reading James Fenimore Cooper more than military texts. And, he studied art. He preferred watercolor; nine of his paintings exist today, in museums or private collections. Still, his greatest proficiency was with horses. So wouldn’t you know – when he graduated he didn’t receive a cavalry assignment; he was sent to Fort Barracks near St Louis, the largest military base in the west. The year was 1843, Ulysses was 21 years old. Four years of duty to fulfill my obligation, then resign and become a teacher – that was his plan.

Ulysses met Julia Dent ((1826-1902) while he was in Missouri; her brother Frederick was friends with Ulysses at West Point; he introduced them. Then Ulysses was sent off to fight in a war; something he definitely did NOT want to do. He was 24 when he found himself serving under Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott in the Mexican War. Here’s the timeline of what happened next:

  • 1848, age 26: Married Julia in Missouri, stationed in Michigan, then New York
  • 1850, age 28: Son Frederick born
  • 1852, age 30: Stationed in Oregon Territory, son Ulysses born
  • 1854, age 32: Stationed in California

By this point, well beyond the time he’d planned to be away from the demands of a military career, drinking got him out. He was at Fort Humboldt in California, a captain, when reprimanded for a drinking episode. He promised to resign if it happened again; it did, and he was finally out of the Army, no court martial, no bad mark against his name. Back to Missouri, reunited with his wife and two sons; and no job. The next seven years were not good.

Ulysses’ father offered him a job in his leather business, but demanded that Julia and the children remain with her family in Missouri. They declined that offer. Ulysses took up farming on his brother-in-law’s Missouri farm; but had to sell firewood on the street corners of St Louis to survive. Daughter Ellen was born that year. They moved to some land on the farm of Julia’s father and built a little cabin they named “Hardscrabble.” The Panic of 1857 was devasting to farmers; Ulysses sold his gold watch, rented out Hardscrabble, and moved to the plantation of Julia’s father. Suffering from malaria, he gave up farming, and son Jesse was born.

In 1859 Ulysses took a position in St Louis with Julia’s cousin, working in the real estates business as a bill collector. No success there either; he then applied for a position as county engineer, but was passed over because he was believed to share his father-in-law’s Democratic sentiments. By this time Ulysses’ father had turned the business of his many leather stores over to his sons, so Ulysses joined his brothers and moved his family to the store in Galena, Illinois. Ulysses did routine work, tended the books, and traveled to neighboring states to purchase green hides from local farmers. A reputable citizen now, he couldn’t vote in the 1860 election because he was not yet a legal resident of Illinois, but he favored Democrat Stephen Douglas over Abraham Lincoln. He was torn – he was strongly anti-slavery; Julia remained a staunch Democrat. Nevertheless, on April 15, 1861, the day after the attack on Fort Sumter, he answered Lincoln’s call for seventy-five thousand volunteers, and re-enlisted in the Army.

Let’s Get Together Again

At the beginning of the Civil War, Ulysses helped organize volunteers; then took command of the Illinois troops; was promoted to brigadier general; then major general. But he didn’t do this without Julia. Over the course of the Civil War Julia stayed with Ulysses during campaigns at Memphis, Vicksburg, Nashville, and Virginia. She covered more than 10,000 miles in four years to be with her husband. And she was accompanied by her slave. That’s right — the spouse of the leader of the Union Army fighting to preserve the Union and abolish slavery visited her husband’s encampments often, sometimes traveling alone and sometimes with their children in tow, who were watched over by Jule.

Julia grew up on a plantation with slaves, and “Black Julia” or “Jule,” as she came to be known, was with Julia from an early age. Julia wrote in her memoirs “When I visited the General during the war, I nearly always had Jule with me as a nurse. She came near being captured at Holly Springs.” At one point, Julia lived at Walter Place, an Antebellum mansion in Holly Springs, Mississippi. When Confederate General Earl Van Dorn raided the house, he was not permitted by the pro-Union owner to enter before she went outside, with Jule kept safe.

Lincoln realized how Julia’s presence affected her husband; he supported her visits. Letters between Julia and Ulysses show she was a trusted confidant; it was Julia’s suggestion that Ulysses invite President Lincoln, first lady Mary, and their son, Tad, to visit him at the front lines. On April 9, 1865, Ulysses S Grant accepted the surrender of Confederate General Robert E Lee at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War. The Lincolns invited the Grants to a play at the Ford Theater five days later, but they declined. How different history might have been had they gone! Ulysses S Grant was meant to be killed that evening too, but he was home with Julia.

After the War and Reconstruction

During the years of Johnson’s presidency, the Johnson-Grant relationship went from warm to icy cold; Johnson didn’t attend Ulysses inauguration on March 4, 1869. But Julia did; she was thrilled! She had been a major part of Ulysses’ campaign, though he had been reluctant to run.

After four years of war, Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial, Washington was ready for someone like Julia. She gave lavish state dinners, and also received callers at informal receptions, with one stipulation – the women must wear hats, and the men must leave their weapons at home. She was devastated when Ulysses refused to run for a third term. But he was done; for eight years the issues of reconstruction had consumed the country; it wasn’t settled yet. The Compromise of 1877, signed in March, left the end of it squarely in the new president’s hands. (Rutherford B Hayes story next.)

Claiming “I was never so happy in my life!” Ulysses left Washington. By May he and Julia were off to England. They kept going, around the world, stopping in Europe, Africa, India, the Middle East, the Far East, meeting with dignitaries along the way. President Hayes considered them “unofficial diplomats” and provided transportation on US Navy ships – five months in the Mediterranean on the USS Vandalia; travel from Hong Kong to China on the USS Ashuelot; travel from China to Japan on the USS Richmond. They crossed the Pacific on the SS City of Tokio, escorted by a Japanese man-of-war, and landed in San Francisco in September of 1879, greeted by cheering crowds.

And the Grants were broke again.

Most of their savings were gone, but a wealthy friend bought them a home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Their son Buck (Ulysses Jr) had opened a Wall Street brokerage house there, and – long story short – things turned sour, Ulysses borrowed a huge sum of money to save the venture, but it still went bust. Ulysses sold off war mementos, handed over title to his house, began writing his memoirs, and was diagnosed with throat cancer. Frantic to make sure he left Julia with enough money to live on, he finished his memoirs just days before he died on July 23, 1885, at the age of 63.

This man was mourned. President Grover Cleveland ordered a thirty-day nationwide period of mourning. After private services, the honor guard placed his body on a special funeral train, which traveled to West Point and New York City; it was viewed by a quarter of a million people. Tens of thousands of men, many of them veterans, marched with the casket drawn by two dozen black stallions. His pallbearers included Union generals Sherman and Sheridan, Confederate generals Simon Bolivar Buckner and Joseph E. Johnston, Admiral David Dixon Porter, and Senator John A. Logan. Following the casket in the seven-mile-long procession were President Cleveland, the two living former presidents Hayes and Arthur, all of the President’s Cabinet, and the justices of the Supreme Court. Attendance at the funeral topped 1.5 million. Ceremonies were held in other major cities around the country, while Grant was eulogized in the press and likened to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

As for Julia – Mark Twain published The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant which focused on Ulysses’ military career; he marketed it to veterans as Ulysses’ death was being mourned. Julia lived another 17 years, and received about $450,000 (equivalent to $12,800,000 today) in royalties.

You really should visit Grant’s Tomb.