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Rutherford B. Hayes: Birthplace, Early Life & Education

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Pronounced dead, he actually became President of the United States. Curious? Read more about the fascinating early life of our nation's nineteenth president, Rutherford B. Hayes.

Rutherford B. Hayes

If you thought the 2000 U.S. presidential election was a scandal, then you should know that it pales in comparison to the most disputed election in United States history, where Rutherford B. Hayes eventually claimed top prize as the nineteenth President. This lesson, however, isn't about that interesting election or even his presidency. Instead, it's about his equally amazing early life.

Birthplace & Family

Rutherford B. Hayes was born on October 4, 1822 in Delaware, Ohio. His mother was Sophia Birchard and his father, Rutherford Hayes, was a farmer who also founded a whiskey distillery. Hayes was named after his father and grandfather. The sad thing, though, is that his dad passed away two months before Hayes was born. He and his siblings were raised by their mom.

Hayes had two older siblings, a brother, Lorenzo, and a sister, Fanny. Sadly, his nine-year-old brother drowned while ice-skating when Hayes was just two, so he never really got to know his older brother either.

Early Life & Education

Hayes, nicknamed ''Rud'' as a kid, was a sickly child. Nevertheless, he had a loving and comfortable childhood. His mom was independent and sprightly and took good care of her family. She started her own small business in order to make a living. Her younger brother, Sardis Birchard, eventually acted as a surrogate father for Rud and Fanny as they grew up.

Fanny and Rud were very close as kids. That's partly because their overprotective mother didn't allow Hayes to participate in most sports or play with other kids until he was about eight. So Fanny and Rud played with one another instead.

It was also Sophia who taught Hayes to read and write as a child, while his sister introduced him to Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott. However, Hayes also attended local public and private schools, as well as the Norwalk Seminary.

Hayes then attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Here he graduated in 1842 as valedictorian. He pursued a legal career, partly because his mother and sister wanted him to do so. At first, he studied in a law office in Columbus, Ohio; however, he eventually enrolled in Harvard Law School, graduating in 1845.

Early Career

He passed the bar in Ohio and opened up his own practice. His law career didn't get off to a flying start, so he moved to Cincinnati in 1849, eventually making it big in the field of criminal law and becoming known for defending fugitive (runaway) slaves.

In 1852 he married Lucy Ware Webb, a girl he had first seen in 1847 in his hometown of Delaware. She had only been fifteen at the time, so they only got to really know each other a few years later. She was intelligent and passionate but was surprised that Hayes wanted to marry her. They went on to have a solid and equal marriage with eight children.

Rutherford and Lucy Webb Hayes
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In 1861 the United States Civil War broke out. Hayes, who was nearing forty and had several children and no military experience, nonetheless enlisted. In his regiment was another future President, William McKinley, who remarked that Hayes was an intense and ferocious soldier in battle despite being very kind and gentle under normal circumstances.

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