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No. 7 JULY 2003

A TEENAGER'S LETTER TO PRESIDENT RUTHERFORD B. HAYES

It was a special day for young Corale Crane of Davenport, Iowa. It was her 16th birthday. To mark the occasion, Corale asked to have her photograph taken. When the image arrived, Corale knew exactly what she would do. She would send it with a letter to President Rutherford B. Hayes.


Corale Crane, Davenport, Iowa,
on her 16th Birthday

Since the days of George Washington, children have written letters to their presidents, telling of their admiration, offering advice, and expressing their opinions. President Hayes had his share of young admirers too. Perhaps more than most.

During the nineteenth century politics was part of everyone's daily life. Marching in torchlight parades and listening to politicians "out on the stump" broke the monotony of life in small villages and farms. Election Day was a chance for neighbors to picnic, exchange news, and voice their opinions on the issues. Politics was a way, perhaps the only way, for isolated Americans to feel important and connected to the nation.

And Corale Crane could think of no better way to feel important than to tell the president of her own personal connection to him. Five years earlier, while living in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Corale and her younger brother decided they would raise a "liberty pole" and place the national flag on it. As the only Republicans in a Democratic neighborhood, Corale and her brother were determined to show their support for Hayes. Unfortunately, Corale's brother hit her in the head with the spade, "cutting a gash an inch in length penetrating to the skull."

Even though Corale's friends teased her about the "Hayes scar," telling her "it spoils your looks," she declared to the president, "I am very proud to possess so honored a mark." When Corale discovered the "Hayes scar" was only partially visible in her photograph, she solved the problem with a small pencil mark "to indicate the spot where I bear a scar in honor of your election."

Whether Corale lived until 1920 when women won the right to vote is not known. But at the age of 16, Corale achieved a small victory: she had connected with her president. Hayes was undoubtedly charmed by the spunky teen's determination. He penned her name and the date of his reply on the reverse of her photo and placed it with her letter among his papers where it remains today.


Davenport, Iowa

Sept. 19th 1881.

R. B. Hayes. Ex. President of the U.S.

Dear Sir:

Please pardon the liberty I take in addressing you; and at this late date. My object in writing is to send you my photograph, taken recently on my 16th anniversary, on the forehead of which you will find a small pencil mark which indicates the spot where I bear a scar in honor of your election, and of which I am very proud. It happened in this wise. At the time we were living in the City of Fort Wayne, Ind. and in a Democratic neighborhood. We, being the only Republicans, myself and brother, who is two years my junior, thought to raise a pole and suspend there from our national flag. Having received the desired liberty pole which, by the way, was quite a strong one, we proceeded to dig a hole in which to plant it. After digging to the desired depth with a sharp spade, we put it in and were filling it up, alternately with stones and earth, when becoming very tired I handed the spade to my brother, and with one hand holding the pole and the other placing a rock to secure it more firmly and suddenly bending down as he was throwing a spade full of earth, it struck my forehead, cutting a gash an inch in length penetrating to the skull. Of course I was conveyed quickly to the house and brother finished the "pole raising." When I left that city a year later "that pole" still stood a silent witness to my patriotism. My brother's name is C. D. Crane, Jr. and at the time of this event his age was 9 years and mine 11. My friends frequently refer to my "Hayes scar" as they call it and say "It spoils my looks,". but I rejoice in the possession of so honored a mark. It is thought that the injury then received is partially the cause of my near sightedness for which I have been wearing glasses for three years.

It would make me very happy to receive your photograph and autograph as I revere your name and fame.

Hoping at least, to hear from you,
I remain,
Yours in sincerest respect
Corale C. Crane
1508 Perry St.
Davenport
Iowa

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