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.
Corale Crane, Davenport, Iowa,
on her 16th
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
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
Sept. 19th 1881.
R. B. Hayes. Ex. President of the U.S.
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
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,
Yours in sincerest
Corale C. Crane
1508 Perry St.