Day 2: May 29, 2016
Library Centennial

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I spent a comfortable Saturday Night in this room at the Pacer Inn.

A large part of my drive to Fremont was on US-23 and a large part of that is now divided four-lane. I made pretty good time. I knew that onsite parking was not permitted today and that a free shuttle was being provided. That made me think that I'd be spending a fair amount of time just getting to Spiegel Grove but I found on street parking near the gate and walked right in and discovered that the events I had been thinking started at noon were actually planned for 1:00. The result of all this was that I had time to tour the museum before the speeches started.

I recalled very little of whatever I had been taught of Rutherford B. Hayes. In fact, just about the only thing I remembered, other than that he was born in Ohio, was the the nickname "Rutherfraud". I knew that came from a bitter election but none of the details. The post-election maneuvering exceeded that of Gore and Bush in 2000 plus it took place barely two decades after a war had divided the nation. Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but was one vote short of the 186 electoral votes needed to claim victory. A commission appointed by congress awarded three contested states (Yes, one of them was Florida.) to Hayes to give him a one vote (186 to 185) victory. Despite the shaky beginnings, the Hayes presidency was a good one. His honesty did a lot to restore confidence in the office following the corruption of the Grant administration. His extensive travel throughout the country did much to repair the divisions of the recent war.

There was no taxpayer supplied Air Force One in 1877 and the president had to supply his own transportation. Hayes paid $2,531 for this carriage, horses, and necessary accessories and was responsible for the horses' feed and the coachman's salary.

Queen Victoria presented the Resolute desk to President Hayes in 1880 and it has been used by nearly every president since. This is a copy that visitors can try on for size. The signatures of every one of our presidents from Washington to Obama are on the wall behind the desk.

The museum was started by the president's son, Webb Cook Hayes, who had an outstanding military career. Many of the weapons and other items he collected during his travels.

The Hayes house was to close temporarily at 12:15 so I headed to the president's tomb instead. Rutherford and Lucy are both buried here as are Webb Hayes and his wife, Mary. Several of Webb and Mary's accomplishments are noted by decorations mounted on the boulder at the foot of their grave.

As I walked back from the burial area, I noticed a few folks still waiting at the entrance to the house. It looked as if they were waiting to get in rather than booted out so I asked. It turns out that the start of tours was being suspended at 12:15 and there was one more left. I congratulated myself on my timing and joined the small group. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour though no photos are permitted in the house and my timing might not have been quite as fortuitous as I first thought. Just before we reached the second floor music began on the front porch. Ceremonies were well underway before we finished and a few left the tour early but I happily remained inside for the full tour.

One thing I missed was the keynote "stream". Cokie Roberts was deliver the keynote address near the end of the ceremonies. When I first arrived I learned that tropical storm Bonnie had trapped Roberts in South Carolina but that some sort of electronic hookup was being worked on. The hookup was made so that Cokie could give her speech over a live video connection but a shuffling of the schedule was required. Instead of an end of the program keynote, there was a top of the program keynote. I may have been peeking into Rutherford's "Inner Sanctum" as it played but that's OK. I've seen Cokie Roberts on TV before.

There was still plenty to see and hear once the tour ended and I've included pictures of "The President's Own" United States Marine Band Brass Quintet, Fremont Mayor Daniel Sanchez, and Ambassador of the Republic of Paraguay German Rojas. "Why Paraguay?", I wondered but there is a very good reason. As president, Hayes had settled a major South American conflict with a decision that greatly benefited Paraguay. He is a hero there and even has a town, Villa Hayes, named for him.

Once the speeches were over, all that remained before the big BBQ, which I didn't attend, was the laying of a wreath at the president's tomb. Those folks in yellow shirts are Hayes descendents and there were lots of them there. Apparently family reunions are more popular when your uncle or granddad was a president.

Rutherford and Lucy did quite a bit of entertaining at Spiegel Grove and that included people from his Civil War days. I imagine that scenes like this, or at least like this, were fairly common at some of those gatherings. Since Hayes survived the war Memorial Day does not really apply to him but he was wounded at least four times.

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