Monday, February 18, 2008

how i'm getting the full effect of president's day

today, i celebrate a random president: rutherford birchard hayes. here's what i learned about him, and here's what you need to know.

he was born in delaware, ohio in 1822. that was not a typo.

he was a member of a prominent social organization called the cincinnati literary club that became a military organization upon the outbreak of the civil war. so he traded in bookmarks for muskets.

he began his political life as a whig, but then joined the free soil party.

while fighting in the civil war, he was nominated by republicans to congress. however, he said that it would not be right to leave the field of battle to campaign for a political seat, and any man who would do so deserves to be scalped. if he were alive today, the political marketing machine would make him out to be some sort of a coward and glorify those who would have hid behind their bookmarks.

of course, against his greatest objections, he was then elected, until he resigned two years later, when he was nominated for the governorship of ohio, which he won and served for two more years.

he was famous for his honesty and his ability to not offend anyone. i did not make that up.

when he ran for the presidency of the united states, he actually did not win the popular vote, losing to samuel tilden by 250,000 (out of 8.5 million). however, boys and girls, you win the presidency through the electoral college. the candidates had to muster 185 votes: tilden was short just one, with 184 votes, hayes had 165, with 20 votes representing four states which were contested. three of these states (florida, louisiana, and south carolina) were in the south, which was still under military occupation (the fourth was oregon).

to decide the actual winner, the two houses of congress created a electoral commission made up of five members of the house, five from senate and five from the supreme court. it was a bi-partisan committee of seven democrats, seven republicans and one swing vote. and in case this sounds familiar, it should: they voted along party lines. shocker. and the swing vote was a republican at heart. so there you go. deja vu.

because of the taint of improper voting fraud, he was mocked as "rutherfraud b. hayes". oh snap.

southern democrats were given full assurances that if hayes were elected president, he would pull all the federal troops out of the south and end reconstruction.

he was the first president to take the oath of office in the white house because they wanted the ceremony to be kept secret to avoid any sort of insurrection.

when congress sent him the bills overturning civil rights enforcement, he vetoed them four times before finally signing one that satisfied his requirement for black rights.

he also was the first president in history to call in federal troops to fire on striking railroad workers. more than 70 strikers were killed. i wonder if they found him to be disagreeable.

he did not seek re-election because he believed that presidents should not run for a second term.

he died in 1893.

thank you, rutherford. i think.

why do we have today off?

1 comment:

Jaime Schwarz said...

We have today off like the people of the commonwealth have Queen's day. It's a day we take to honor those who have lead us. But really it's because we needed a day off in February. I mean honestly, could we have gone a whole month without a holiday?