Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rutherford B.Hayes Presidential Center

President Hayes' museum is certainly not as extensive as other presidential centers which we have toured.  As he had wanted it, he had only one term.  Before he became president he had served the Union during the war as a Major General.  After the war he continued to serve his country in the House of Representatives and as an Ohio governor for three terms.  When he became president the country was still recovering from the Civil War, tensions were still running high between the North and the South.  Hayes removed the last Federal troops from the South and appointed a Southerner to his cabinet.  He was the first president to travel to the West Coast.  With his wife Lucy he traveled to the Pacific mainly by railroad over a period of 70 days.  Many of the gifts he received as president were attained during that trip: gold nuggets from California, silver products from New Mexico, as well as Native American pottery and baskets- to name but a few of those gifts.  The first telephone and typewriter was placed in the White House during his administration, as well as the first "Easter Egg Roll" event.  His only daughter, Fanny, was 10-years-old when he entered the White House, the dollhouse her parents gave her that first year is pictured below.

The museum also has on display presently a special exhibit titled "Privy to History: Civil War Prison Life Unearthed".  Northwest Ohio is home of the only Union Army Civil War Prison built solely to house captured Confederate officers.  Numerous artifacts have been recovered from the latrines (which also were used as garbage cans) of the prison site.  Prisoners spent their idle time carving rings, earrings, necklaces and other trinkets from hard rubber (rulers, buttons and syringes were made of the product)- some of which they sent home to loved ones and and some they sold for needed supplies.  One prisoner was able to cobble together a camera and clandestinely took pictures of the inmates.  Those also were sent back home.  The artifacts, together with letters and diary entries of the prisoners and guards, certainly  provides an interesting peek into a piece of the Civil War of which I was unaware.  I would have liked to have spent more time at the museum, as it was we were there until closing time.

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