Hayes: Model of a Modern Ex-President
Leslie H. Fishel, jr.
Volume X, Number 1
In mid-summer, 1990, another Presidential library was dedicated. The incumbent President and three of the four living ex-Presidents attended the event. It struck me that to have four living ex-Presidents was unusual, for I recall two successive Presidential terms when we could say with non-partisan assurance that Herbert Hoover was the greatest living ex-President - and the only one. I did a quick check to determine how often in our history we have had four living former chief executives and discovered that this had not happened before in the twentieth century.
In the previous century, however, at three moments in our history, there were four or more living former Presidents. During John Quincy Adams's term, beginning in March 1825, his father and Thomas Jefferson lived until July 4, 1826, and two Jameses, Madison and Monroe, survived into Andrew Jackson's administration. When James Buchanan took the oath of office in 1857, John Tyler, Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, and Franklin Pierce were alive and, judging from their longevity, well. Abraham Lincoln, first in so many presidential categories, also embraced, or suffered, the greatest number of former chief executives - five. Tyler and Van Buren died a year into Lincoln's first term, but Fillmore, Peirce and Buchanan outlasted the weary war president. Twenty-five years later, when Governor David B. Hill of New York proposed that former presidents be made lifetime members of the Senate, Hayes was aghast. "Just think of a Senate, when the Rebellion was on," he erupted to a correspondent, "with a list of life members like this, namely Buchanan, Fillmore, Pierce, Tyler, and Van Buren! Of course," he added, true to his Victorian nature, " I mean no reflection of these eminent men."1
While this accounting can be dismissed as Jeopardy-type trivia, there is a point to it. What function does an ex-president perform? What does the country owe him and, conversely, what does the former White House resident owe his country? In the current four, we can see a colorful variety, from the service-oriented diplomacy and good works of a Carter, to the recreational relaxation of a Reagan. The Fordian mix of golf and glamor and the Nixonian defensive screen for conspiratorial politics at home and abroad lie in between.2
In the long list of former presidents who have survived the presidency, there are plenty of models from which to choose, if presidential types were the modeling kind. The first Adams farmed and practiced law while Jefferson devoted himself to his plantation and his baby: the University of Virginia. The second Adams served in the House of Representatives for 18 years after leaving the White House, while Andrew Jackson remained at home in Nashville, still regarded as the head of his party. Tyler headed a Peace Convention before the Civil War, and then entered the Confederate Congress. Buchanan supported the War, worked on a "careful defense of his administration," and avoided the public eye. Grant, on the contrary, gloried in public attention on a two-year world tour and as a potential third term presidential candidate. He spent his last days writing his memorable war memoirs. Grover Cleveland ran for reelection, losing one and winning one. Then he retired to Princeton, occasionally attracting national attention and devoting himself to autobiographical essays. Teddy Roosevelt was always good news copy, whether on safari, creating a new and abortive political party, or carping at Wilson's handling of an exploding Europe.
This is a quick summary, jumping some and abridging the careers of others, but it suggests that the role of former Presidents remains unclear. Each ex-chief executive is different and has a unique mix of talents and tares. There should be a role for these men, and, in the future, women. In the 1889 letter quoted above to William Stoddard, Hayes expressed his ideas all too briefly. Let Presidents, on leaving office, "take a manly view of the situation. Let him become a citizen again." He noted that while Cleveland, then serving his first term, had practiced law fairly recently and could return to it, he- Hayes - was two decades away from his law practice, because of his many years of public service.
He referred Stoddard to his short speech to neighbors and friends when he returned to Fremont on March 8, 1881, where he raised the question: "What is to become of the man - what is he to do - who, having been Chief Magistrate of the Republic retires at the end of his official term to private life?" His answer was brief and to the point: "Let him, like every other good American citizen, be willing and prompt to bear his part in every useful work that will promote the welfare and the happiness of his family, his town, his State, and his country." He will have plenty to do, Hayes reassured his audience, resulting in "more individual contentment and gratification than belong to the more conspicuous employments of the life from which he has retired."3 His post-Presidential life should be judged by that measure, he wrote Stoddard; let there be "a short and unobtrusive showing of what has been done to carry it out in practice."4
The Hayes model of an ex-President reflects the public attention and lack of privacy that surrounds one who has been a Chief Magistrate. A close friend, Guy Bryan of Texas, himself a state legislator, sensed that a former President never really escapes. In reply, Hayes agreed. "More independent out than in place," he wrote, "but still something of the bondage of the place that was willingly left." Some responsibilities continue and there are advantages as well as "certain drawbacks. The correspondence is large. The meritorious demands on one are large."
Twentieth century former White House residents complain about their lack of privacy, even with all of the security and secretarial assistance at their command. Hayes had no structured system to protect him from a demanding public. Stray veterans dropped in on him at Spiegel Grove, hoping for a helping hand, and they usually got it. Letters, over a thousand annually, were answered by hand - Hayes's hand - and many of them asking a favor, a gift, an appearance, a recommendation. Time and again he complained to his diary and friends about the burden of his correspondence, yet he continued to plow through it, letter by letter.5
Without doubt, the first mark of a former President is stature: the status of having been President. Like modern ex-Presidents, Hayes was aware that people and organizations used him as a drawing card to attract attention to their causes. Whether Hayes presided over the Boards of Trustees of the Ohio State University, the Birchard Library, the Slater Fund for Negro Education, or meetings of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, the Sandusky County Bible Society, or the National Prison Congress, his presence gave prominence and dignity to each organization. While he was careful to select only those groups whose beliefs he shared, every one gave him prominence, and in most he added substance as well as status. In a word, while he was "being used," he was at the same time using his unique position to promote issues he thought to be significant. Occasionally, he stood comfortably on the sidelines; "Now that temperance has become popular and has powerful friends in almost every circle," he told his diary early in 1887, "Mrs. Hayes and I can leave the laboring oar to others."6
Invigorated by the exposure to important issues and people, he was sometimes wearied by the constant travel and the endless meetings. "My readiness to say yes to importunate demands on my time," he confided to Guy Bryan in Texas, "has brot [sic] its due penalty. The burden of duties on me that last year has been too great." In 1885, at the Detroit Congress of the National Prison Association, Senator Thomas W. Palmer of Michigan, remarking that he looked forward to a retirement of dolce far niente [sweet idleness], introduced Hayes with the observation that "attending conventions may be his way of taking the dolce far niente." Lucy Hayes's death in June, 1889 seemed to accelerate his pace. "Especially since my precious wife left me I found in occupation my best refuge."7
When a President steps out of the White House for the last time as a resident, he undoubtedly carries with him a bag of defense mechanisms for future use. Buchanan reputedly carried this to an extreme, but it is a safe wager that all former Presidents have self-defensive streaks of varying depths and widths. Rutherford B. Hayes certainly did. To his diary, however, he maintained that he had no reason to "defend or explain" his administration, since everything has worked out so well - the Southern policy, financial policy, civil service policy, and the strength of the party. Let those who opposed those measures "defend and explain and apologize." Yet, with an almost prim shrewdness, he wrote to correspondents, advising them to their errors in interpreting events in his administration, and then caution that his letter was private. "I have adopted a rule, and thus far adhered to it," he confided to David Murphy, " not to deny or explain in regard to my official record" adding protectively, "Exceptions there may be, of course."8
Whether it was the "exception" or his sensitivity, Hayes continued for the rest of his life to proclaim that he was about defending his Presidency, all the while working hard to persuade skeptics that he was a successful President. When a friend defended him against what was probably a nasty article in the Dayton News alleging miserliness, Hayes wrote a word of thanks and his explanation of the charge of parsimony. In a postscript he emphasized that his letter was "between ourselves. As in fact I care very little for abuse, I do not want even to seem otherwise by noticing it." In December 1886, Hayes wrote a short essay in his diary defending his election and the process used to decide it. He pointed out that the Democrats voted for the process, including the Electoral Commission. The 1880 presidential canvass confirmed for him the correctness of the results, since Garfield played a part in that process. "Those who were closely connected with the declaration of the result in 1876-1877 retain the confidence of the people," he concluded. In a classic "exception" Hayes asked his son, Webb, in Cleveland to ask the editor of the Cleveland Leader to insert in the paper a correction that Hayes supplied. He reminded Webb that he did "not explain or deny statements" about his Presidential term, "But when a misstatement is corrected by an editor on his own responsibility, the case is different."9
Bothered as Hayes may have been by criticism of his administration after the fact, he was buoyed by public displays or appreciation. An October trip to Indianapolis and St. Louis in 1890 satisfied him because of the "many agreeable things said to me about my Administration. The tide grows more favorable," he told his diary, "and is really strong my way." A few months earlier he noted from unidentified sources praise for strengthening the Republican party and for keeping to his promise to serve but one term. "Not unpleasant reading," he glowed.
Hayes was equally sensitive about his position. When it turned out that he would not have the prominent place in the dedication of the Washington Monument that the program suggested, he turned down the invitation. He was miffed at not being named a pallbearer at Chester Arthur's funeral, until he discovered that he would ride in President Cleveland's carriage. When he visited Bermuda, he received a 21-gun salute, a military review on board the British admiral's ship, and formal hospitality. "A field day, indeed," he noted.10
In outlining to his Fremont neighbors and to William Stoddard his ideas about the role of an ex-president, Hayes cited no precedent. Yet in a small way, his third-party run for the presidency and his second marriage excepted, Millard Fillmore's post-Presidential years were somewhat of a precursor. Fillmore was the first chancellor of the University of Buffalo, a founder of both the local historical society and the general hospital, and active in many philanthropic and educational efforts. As Buffalo's first citizen after 1865, Fillmore seemed to stay strictly within his home city. Hayes, while loyal to his community, roamed the nation.11
Even as Hayes traveled from New England to Nebraska, from Toronto to Atlanta, his heart stayed in northern Ohio. He presided over several organizations: the board of his local church, the county Bible Society, the local library, the Garfield Memorial, the Fremont Soldiers Monument, the Maumee Valley Monument Association, and, for a hectic year, the local Odd Fellows chapter. He was a founder of an incipient Chamber of Commerce and a new savings bank. He served on the boards of a local cemetery, a local academy, a local bank, and was an active member of the local historical society, the local Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) chapter, and the effort to save the Carbon Works, a sizeable local industry. "I have made it a rule through life," he admitted to his diary, "to attend well to the humblest duties assigned to me....This has been a necessity for me and with my feelings and notions of duty."12
Hayes nurtured his hometown roots. But his vision was continental and he participated in movements to support Black education in the South, industrial education everywhere, Civil War veterans' movements nationally, and the National Prison Association. In addition, he spoke at dedications, celebrations, Chautauquas, college and university convocations, to veterans' groups and farmers, to businessmen and teachers, to every conceivable reform-minded and improvement-oriented group, except politicians and political gatherings. He spent a lot of time traveling to funerals of prominent people and friends. He confined his political activity to personal letters, eschewing public statements. His bulky correspondence consumed whole days; on January 2, 1889, he complained to his diary: "Letters - letters! More than two hundred last month to be replied to."13
There is no quantitative means of determining on what national causes Hayes expended his chief energies, but the three that seem to be uppermost in his heart and mind were the veterans' movements, education, and prison reform. The veterans' movements were primarily nostalgic. Since Hayes's military experience in the Civil War was that of a battle-scarred infantry officer, he had much to remember. A newspaper reporter cited several instances in which Hayes spoke of his war service as "the best and happiest portion of my life." He frequently participated in reunions of various societies, like the Army of Tennessee, but the Army of West Virginia Society and his own regiment, the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, were closest to his heart.14
As a Congressman, Hayes had strongly supported bounties and pensions for Civil War veterans, a position that he maintained throughout his lifetime. Though he gained some political support from his stance, Hayes's motivation came from the belief that veterans deserved their government's financial recognition. He joined his local GAR chapter a bare two months after his return to Fremont, but his activity in the GAR was limited to local meetings and occasional attendance at a national encampment. He eschewed the political activism of the GAR even as he welcomed its admission policy that included enlisted men.15
The veterans' organization most attractive to him was the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS). Founded in 1865 on the same basis as the Society of the Cincinnati a century earlier, the Loyal Legion admitted officers who had served in the Civil War, and made provision for their eldest sons to join or succeed them. The Legion issued special membership invitations to civilians who were prominent in the war effort. The original founders, Pennsylvania officers, wanted to perpetuate the "pleasant" social gatherings that developed among friends during the War, but excluded the socially undesirable. Fifteen years later, the Legion's state purpose was primarily sentimental and patriotic: "to cherish the memories and associations of the war waged in defence of the unity and indivisibility of the Republic" the constitution proclaimed. "To strengthen the ties of fraternal fellowship," it went on, adding provisos about helping widows and children and supporting the study of "Military and Naval Science ." The constitution concluded its statement of objectives with a stirring call for "unqualified allegiance" to the government and protection for American citizens.16
Active in the Ohio Commandery, Hayes received an invitation to the 1885 National Congress in Chicago, where, as Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief, he presided in General Winfield S. Hancock's absence. It was, he records, a busy meeting, with "a world of amendments," mostly of the housekeeping variety. He favored, among other reforms, doing away with the primogeniture feature of membership and opening up membership to non-commissioned officers and enlisted men, " but I don't expect [them] to be received with favor." They were not. The banquet was "an exceedingly fine affair," marked with rousing singing, tramping round the room to the song "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, The Boys are Marching" and short speeches. Hayes gave a brief speech, and later criticized himself for not saying more about Lincoln and Grant.
The next day, April 17, Hayes delivered another short speech in closing the Congress. He struck a familiar chord, the importance of friendship: "I trust that the acquaintances now made, and the fraternal regard which will date back to the meeting of this Congress are to continue as long as we shall live." Reassuring the assembly that, quoting Emerson on the American Revolution, the Civil War was "a spotless cause" because it "established the Union," sustained the federal government, and "abolished slavery," he praised "the brave men of the South who fought against us" and bade the delegates a safe journey home.17
At the Chicago meeting, the Legion organized a Commandery-in-Chief, composed of officers from various state commanderies and scheduled it to meet in Philadelphia on the call of General Hancock. The following year in Commandery-in-Chief met in Philadelphia with Hayes presiding, Hancock having died the previous February. The election of Hancock's successor was no contest. When General Philip H. Sheridan was nominated, Hayes made the seconding speech, recalling Sheridan's "military genius and majestic heroism" at the battle of Cedar Creek, which changed a morning's defeat to an evening's victory. As Hayes sat down, General John M. Schofield rose to pay tribute to Hayes as one who, "esteems his honorable record as a soldier, though in a subordinate position...," more than any other activity in which he has engaged, even the Presidency. Sheridan was elected.18
Sheridan's death in August 1888 once again made Hayes, still the Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief, the acting presiding officer. At the October meeting later that year he became Commander-in-Chief in an uncontested election. He had made it clear that he preferred "a man of the largest military reputation," that is, Generals William T. Sherman or Schofield, but neither of them was totally acceptable. Hayes, told that "all want you," accepted the honor and served until his death. The period of Hayes's active involvement with the Legion coincided with its healthy growth. The membership increased from 4,800 in January 1888 to more than 8,100 at the beginning of 1893.19
Hayes appraised the Loyal Legion with consistent realism. Writing in 1884 and again in 1890, he saw the Legion primarily as "a social club," preserving the "comradeship" that emerged from war experiences.20 But he also viewed the Legion as "a historical society," dedicated to gathering for prosperity "the history, biography, and literature of the war." Meetings of the state commanderies often heard papers on various battles, evaluations of leadership, and even the experiences of a white officer of the United States Colored Troops. Hayes himself contributed talks on Lincoln and Sherman, among others.
In 1884, when his official Legion responsibilities were less weighty, he believed that the Legion's permanence was a point in its favor, citing the Society of the Cincinnati a century earlier as the prototype. Six years later, more experienced in Legion affairs, he underscored the purposes for which the War was fought: "union, liberty, the national authority, supremacy, and sovereignty." In a time of great change and upheaval, on the threshold of the nationalistic fervor of the late 1890s and early twentieth century, these objectives had great meaning. He saw the Legion as an illuminating tombstone for all who had served in the War, from "the humblest sentinels" to the "immortal" Lincoln. They should be remembered.21
Hayes's contribution to the Loyal Legion was that of a leader sensitive to the need for veterans' organizations. He maintained his apolitical posture in the Legion and helped to keep it clear of politics, unlike the politically active GAR. He saw no conflict between the two organizations; in fact, he wanted to make the Legion open to all honorably discharged soldiers, not just officers. He correctly viewed the GAR as lasting only as long as the War veterans themselves while the Legion was, he believed, perpetual, since eldest sons inherited their father's membership rights. Hayes wanted this changed, too, so that all sons were eligible, and this eventually was done.22
As in all of his activities, Hayes was a harmonizer in the Legion. The most telling example is more homespun than earthshaking: it deals with two of his sons' reactions to the Legion's decision to restrict inherited members to a lesser class of membership. "Webb and Rutherford," Hayes records, "grumbled. It hurt me awfully....My hard-headed boys, to act so!" The next year, writing to one who was apparently concerned by the resentment of younger members to this status, Hayes counsels forbearance, "...let us be brotherly." He recalls that he had to rebuke his three sons who had "showed signs of heat" on this issue, but reminds his correspondent to hold his temper. "Be charitable. Keep cool." As little thorns pricked the Legion, Hayes took his stand, firmly and quietly, always ready to listen, to mediate. "Time makes all things even," he wrote.23
His interest in reform in the Legion also focused on details. In the Ohio Commandery, of which he was Commander from 1883 to 1887, he wanted to simplify the banquets with "a lunch or collation," restrict the number of toasts and set speeches to three, and control the "offhand talks, and so adjourn by twelve, midnight." Hayes believed that "We - the Loyal Legion - are now in a condition to set examples, to lead the fashions, to start reforms....and so do good service to the society world." Banquets and receptions were as integral a part of Loyal Legion meetings as they are today in business and academic conventions, and for Hayes to want to reshape the Legion's social calendar was no idle effort.24
The Loyal Legion was not the nation's most significant post-Civil War activity, but it played a part in helping its officer-members to put their military experience in perspective and to enjoy each other's company. In the face of a rising bloody-shirt temper in politics, replete with emotional distortions, the Legion emphasized respect for its former military enemies. It perceived the Civil War as reality, and designed its efforts to elaborate the factual context, not invent a fictional framework.25
A hundred years later, as the country watched many Vietnam veterans wrestle with the terrible and sometimes terrifying adjustment from military to civilian life, Hayes's diary reference to "friendship among its members" is both poignant and understandable. "Where is there a better place to form and to test friendships that are to last," he asked rhetorically at the 1884 Ohio Commandery banquet, "than life in the army?" You cannot really know anyone in a short period of time, he went on. "But we spent four years together where it was, indeed, a 'hard road to travel.'" Civil War veterans, both volunteers and draftees, needed the empathic support of comrades. As veterans of the late twentieth century found some release in the company of former comrades-in-arms, so did the Loyal Legion veterans.26
As Hayes's participation in the veterans' movement ploughed a deeper furrow than mere sociability, so did his interest in education. Two years after arriving back in Fremont, he determined that education would be a major focus. "My reflections lead me to the idea that the practical good thing for me to try to give the public is general education," he confided to his diary on April 17, 1883. "With my family affairs, my place, my town, and this as an object, I can always be agreeably and usefully employed." He did not want to write "for the public," nor have an official position, " but it seems to me I can accomplish something in this direction."27
His means of "giving the public...general education" was plural rather than singular. He was already a trustee of the Peabody Education Fund in 1882 when he became a charter trustee of the Slater Fund. Both vehicles aimed at improving Black education primarily in the South. He took seriously his responsibilities in these capacities as well as his place on the Boards of Trustees of Ohio Wesleyan University, Ohio State University, and Western Reserve University. He became committed to the idea of industrial or practical education on the assumption that no boy or girl, man or woman should be without a marketable skill, and that should be acquired in school.
David Thelen's observations that Hayes measured individuals by their character and that he believed that people and their governments were capable of continuing improvement are still pertinent. At a time when the physical and biological sciences paid homage to the scientific method, it was easy for laypersons to adapt it, in an oversimplified form, to human behavior. Improve the environment and human behavior improves: educate boys and girls and solid citizens develop; train them in the manual arts and they will provide the skills for growing industries. Hayes believed in education as a force for good. As he wrote to his long-time college friend, Guy Bryan, that he was now just a political "on-looker except as to education. On that, I am persistent, in an out of season, before all sorts of audiences."28
He was an early supporter of federal aid to education. "Universal education is the common interest of the whole people," he wrote to a Kentucky correspondent, and "...the whole people should cheerfully contribute what is necessary from the treasury." He gave many talks on "National Aid to Education," frequently coupling with that endorsement a plea for industrial education. He spent part of the last two days of 1884 writing to Congressmen in support of the Blair bill for federal aid to education. "The South cannot get an efficient school system without this aid," he told the editor of the Toledo Commercial, an old friend. "It is the only hope....Intelligent voters is the only chance."29
As Governor of Ohio, Hayes had taken substantive steps to improve education at the state level, the most dramatic of which was the creation of what was to become the Ohio State University. He not only was influential in its establishment, but he also helped to shape its broad mandate: an agricultural land-grant institution "without excluding other scientific and classical studies." A decade and a half later, Governor Joseph B. Foraker appointed Hayes to the Ohio State Board of Trustees, where he served until his death.30
The major issue before the Board when Hayes joined it was the power struggle between the Agricultural Experiment Station and the University. Each had its own Board that went its separate way. Within months after becoming a trustee, Hayes led the way in establishing joint meetings of the two Boards, and "took control....in a quiet, forceful way." Throughout his term, he made his influence felt throughout the University on issues as diverse as the abolition of compulsory chapel, hiring a landscape gardener, and revising the way in which faculty members requested funds. Hayes thought of the Board as the administrative entity, with the Secretary of the Board as a combined registrar, buildings and grounds superintendent, and business manager and the President as dean of the faculty. While his concept of the roles of the Board and the President might seem antiquated and out-of-place, it fit the Ohio State situation at that time. "Through this close relationship with [Secretary of the Board, Alexis] Cope," concluded one University historian, "Hayes was instrumental in establishing the power of the Board of Trustees and shaping the structure of the University in its formative stage."31
Besides serving higher education as a Board member, Hayes promoted his ideas to improve education selectively. Often swamped with speaking invitations, he had to turn some aside. He refused several early opportunities to talk at Chautauqua, both the original in western New York state and others like Lakeside in Ohio. He used the excuse of other commitments and wrote to his aunt, Mrs. E. G. Austin in 1883 that Chautauqua's leader, Dr. John H. Vincent, "ought to be grateful to me that I left his work well done until I am rid of the ill odor of political associations." Since he was never fully rid of those associations, this excuse sounds more artificial than real.32
Hayes eventually accepted some Chautauqua invitations. He first showed up at a Chautauqua in 1887, but then turned down requests from Maryland, Massachusetts, and South Dakota. For the Fourth of July celebration in 1891 he traveled all the way to Beatrice, Nebraska, for a Chautauqua. He had a chance to speak on manual training on Saturday morning, July 4, 1891; "told my chestnuts -'the difference between a hobby and a horse' - acceptably ." In the afternoon, he gave his war talk "to a great audience," and ended "with a push for education as the remedy for wealth and poverty."33
He waited until 1892 to go to Lake Chautauqua in western New York where he spoke to the State Grange and the GAR. The Grange heard his "Higher Education for All" talk, countering its position favoring separate agricultural and mechanical schools. Do not oppose "any scheme of education merely because it furnishes a more liberal scholarship than you fancy you need for your children," he counseled. Practical education is important he told farmers, but especially in association with broader studies. "Education should be fitted to the child - not governed by the calling of the parent."34
His immersion in educational reform had a narrower focus within the wider circumference of improving general education and making it available for "our whole people." Hayes believed that industrial education would give young men and women an opportunity to make a living, and he preached this doctrine whenever he could. It was no coincidence that his more intense commitment to industrial education touched much of what he did. In 1888, he persuaded the Ohio State University Board to endorse a manual training program, and his lobbying efforts with the state legislature finally succeeded in 1891. When completed, the building that housed the program carried his name.35
Hayes was apparently not fully cognizant of the debate that raged in educational circles over the last quarter of the century about the meaning of industrial education.36 The debate wandered across the 1880's landscape with little focus and less agreement. At the secondary level, adherents puffed the merits of their programs and the inconsistencies of those of the opposition. All of them appeared to have the same objective - men and women trained for job opportunities; but at the secondary and higher education level, they disputed the best methods to reach that goal. Nicholas Murray Butler, soon to be president of Columbia, proposed integrating industrial education with the regular curriculum. His plan envisioned beginning in the elementary grades and slowly decreasing the quantity of those types of courses while increasing their sophistication as the student moved into the secondary level. In South Carolina, Daniel A. Thompkins, a cotton mill manufacturer, argued for training in the trades, to feed the manufacturing labor pool. The Rev. A. D. Mayo, who knew Hayes, reported for the United States Bureau of Education in 1888 that land grant schools in the South had begun to introduce manual training and that at the elementary level, "improved methods...are taking on the industrial shape."37
As a promoter and not a professional educator, Hayes spoke in general terms without elaborate detail. In 1883, with particular reference to the Slater Fund, he wrote to an unidentified correspondent that "schools ...should be prepared to instruct their pupils in mechanical employments...the arts by which to make a living." The "best intellectual culture," he noted in 1887, "is to be found in learning how to use skillfully the eyes and hands." By 1892, he dismissed as "a great deal of foolish talk" the concept that "intellectual training...[is] the sole object of education...." Using his diary as a speech-drafting vehicle, he went on: "My friends, make no mistake about this. Let the boy be taught the industries clear to the point of useful production, to the point of self-support by the labor of his hands...."38
Hayes's emphasis on teaching job skills was, during the 1880's, out of phase with much of the profession that eschewed what it called trades-training. Early in the next century, however, the National Education Association (NEA) had caught up with Hayes. Part of the reason for Hayes's insistence on educating for employment lay with his preoccupation with the South. In this arena, the approach of United States Commissioner of Education William T. Harris, A. D. Mayo, the Slater Fund agent Atticus Haygood, and Hayes's friend from Harvard Law School days, J. L. M. Curry, fit the Hayes views on eye-hand training and harmonizing Northern interests with Southern needs. If Hayes could help the Black by supporting job training, he would palliate white Southern fears about a rising Black threat to white control, and accord with friends who were, he believed, closer students of education than he was. His efforts to resolve Southern tensions as President failed to protect Southern Blacks from control-minded Southern whites. A decade later, he saw industrial education for Blacks as a way to ease tensions by conditioning without upsetting the power equation.
Harris saw society structured with a dominant property-holding class, a working class, and an underclass, which represented dangerous instability. He would hold off manual training until after intellectual training, as "a finishing-off course and as an introduction to genuine trade training." While Hayes disagreed on the sequence, he could follow Harris's class analysis. In reporting on the South, Mayo identified Blacks as ignorant, indolent, and inferior, and Hayes quoted Mayo's comment as fact in his opening talk to the 1890 Lake Mohonk Negro Conference. Haygood and Curray, as agents of the Slater and Peabody Funds, were advisors to Hayes on Southern educational matters, and it is clear that he valued, and followed, their counsel. Like Mayo, Haygood and Curry wanted to train Blacks only up to the semi-skilled level to meet menial, domestic, and manufacturing requirements. While Curry argued for manual training rather than trade training, his view that white Southerners could control Blacks by controlling their education received wide acceptance in the South, and tacitly by Hayes.39
As a trustee of the Peabody Education Fund and president of the Slater Fund Board, Hayes actively supported Black education for all of his post-White House years.40 Both of these charitable enterprises doled out funds to Southern Black schools, keeping some alive. Eventually, they worked primarily with the stronger ones like Hampton and Tuskegee. The major theme was industrial education, teaching Black youngsters how to do menial chores, farm work, and semi-skilled labor. These dollars were critical to struggling segregated institutions, but the efforts of the two funds were still minuscule. With the failure of the Blair bill for national aid to education, Hayes sought another platform, a way of attracting national attention and enlisting national resources on behalf of Black education. The capstone of his attempts to alleviate Southern Black misery without alienating white Southerners came in 1890 and 1891 at conferences on the Negro, at the delightful retreat about 1300 feet above and ten miles west of the Hudson River, known then and now as Lake Mohonk. Industrial education was the vehicle through which Hayes wanted to place the two races in tandem.
The story of Lake Mohonk conferences is well documented. Beginning in 1883, Albert K. Smiley hosted an annual conference on the Indian at his Lake Mohonk resort. The Dawes Act of 1887 incorporated most of the proposals that had emerged from the Mohonk conferences. This transfer from private discussion to public statute gave the Mohonk conferences a special aura, matched by the list of distinguished conference participants who enjoyed Smiley's warm hospitality. In 1889, Hayes, who had attended the conferences from the beginning, suggested that the Mohonk "methods and spirit" which worked so well, he believed, to ease the Indian problem might also confront a social problem of comparable complexity, involving not 250,000 but 6,000,000 people. Albert Smiley immediately asked if Hayes would chair a conference such as he described. When Hayes answered in the affirmative, Smiley announced that it would take place the following June.41
At the appointed time, about 100 men and women converged on the Lake Mohonk resort as guests of Albert Smiley. He invited no African Americans, despite the pleas of Commissioner Harris, publisher H. O. Houghton, and George W. Cable. The ostensible reason, one scholar concluded, was "to make the meetings palatable to whites, especially those from the South." The conferees represented the white elite of the professions in the United States: ministerial editor Lyman Abbott, secular editors John Covert of the Cleveland Leader and Curtis Dunham of the New York World, college presidents Andrew White of Cornell and Merrill Gates of Rutgers, government officials William T. Harris and General O. O. Howard, industrial philanthropist Edward Pierce of Boston, publisher H. O. Houghton, writers Albion W. Tourgee, and a scattering of Southerners like John M. Glenn of Baltimore. Faced with a distinguished cast and an explosive subject, Hayes met with several representatives on the evening before in Mr. Smiley's room and "talked over business. All harmonious," he recorded.42
At the opening session, Hayes was elected to chair the sessions. In his keynote speech, he pointed out that "These millions who have been so cruelly degraded must be lifted up, or we ourselves will be dragged down." Eschewing political purposes and quoting "one of the devoted friends of the colored people,"[Rev. A. D. Mayo] Hayes laid down the areas in which the conference should confront the colored multitudes whose "'ignorance, indifference, indolence, shiftlessness, superstition and low tone of morality are prodigious hindrances to the development of the great low country where they swarm.' It is, perhaps, safe to conclude that half of the colored population of the South still lack the thrift, the education, the morality, and the religion required to make a prosperous and intelligent citizenship." The charge to the conferees was to discuss and develop proposals treating "the educational, the benevolent, and the religious side of the question," leaving aside those irritating social issues that so easily provoke "bitterness...and... ill-will."43
The three days of meeting were far from harmonious. Samuel C. Armstrong of Hampton Institute and R. H. Allen of the Presbyterian Board of Missions argued for industrial education during the opening session. Joseph E. Roy of the American Missionary Association, William T. Harris, and Lyman Abbott, among others, who hoped for a broader education for Southern Blacks, challenged their views intermittently during the conference. Nevertheless, the classical stereotypes crept into speeches and comments, casting Blacks as inferior, without a history, without thrift, without direction. Several speakers noted that prejudice was oppressive in the North. It was left to Albion Tourgee to deliver the most dynamic speech toward the close of the conference, denouncing the paternalism of whites and looking at the Black question as Blacks looked at it. Color and a sense of his past are the binding precepts for Blacks, Tourgee asserted. To the relief of the conferees, his eloquence was neatly turned aside by the responses of Andrew White and Baltimore businessman John Glenn.44
With two sessions still before them, the first Mohonk Conference adopted a resolution urging that eye and hand training be incorporated with common school education, a compromise that could not have pleased very many people. At the last session, the Conference approved a program with industrial education as its first plank followed by pleas to improve Negro homes, common schools, morality and character, and thrift. It concluded with a call to the country's "enlightened Christian sentiment" for help in achieving these goals. Hayes's closing comments were muted: it was good for all to be here, he said, "even if the results of this meeting in promoting the welfare of the race we are interested in shall be small..." He spoke of those countries where Black men had distinguished themselves, like the West Indies and Bermuda, but said not a word about industrial education. In his diary, he commented that "the much injured race...has large possibilities - an important future - a part to play, in the history of American society."45
The first Mohonk Conference received reasonably good press coverage, with white papers and journals generally endorsing the industrial education approach. Without that, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper observed, citing one speaker, "the negro would continue to be unproductive, untrustworthy, and entirely deficient in that sense of orderliness which is essential to effective labor...." The Springfield [Mass.] Republican devoted several columns daily to the conference, concluding that it may have broken ground for future conferences, but without the African American in attendance, there will be no solution. While papers in cities as geographically distant as Philadelphia, New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Atlanta reported on the conference, it was an editorial in the Boston Herald that caught the temper and the tone of the Conference. After complimenting Hayes for his "true dignity" and "genuine usefulness" for spearheading and presiding over this Conference, observing that "there could be no more becoming manner...than this kind of public service" for an ex-President, the editorial noted that the "chief obstacle in dealing with the negro question" is the Blacks' lack of fitness for political power. A solution requires "a different kind of treatment" and the Mohonk effort is on the right track. It is hopeful, it is kind-spirited, it is encouraging, and it will "take the negro question out of politics. It is a work worthy of ex-Presidents..."46
The Black press had a different view. "What is the play 'Hamlet' worth with HAMLET left out?" asked T. Thomas Fortune of the New York Age. Those who "profess the profoundest interest in the welfare of the Afro-American," he commented, bitterly, are usually the ones who leave him outside the conference door. He ridiculed Lyman Abbott's explanation that the patient is not allowed into the doctors' conference by pointing out that there were numbers of African Americans who could more than hold their own with whites. He added that these persons undoubtedly knew a lot more about the so-called Negro problem than the paler experts. The Cleveland Gazette scolded the Mohonk organizers for excluding Blacks and castigated the resolutions as "about all that could be done without the presence and aid of leading Afro-American educators."47
The second Mohonk Negro Conference convened a year later and met for three days in early June. Hayes was consistent, "We have no new gospel to offer," he wrote a week before the Conference opened. "The ideas and aims of last year are still the leading ones. Education, education, education, are the words." He joined industrial education with teacher and religious training and "the education of women" as primary, requiring sustained effort by Blacks and whites in the South. "Its success depends mainly upon them. The aim of our efforts is to encourage and to aid them." Hayes's opening remarks were mostly long extracts from Atticus Haygood's final report as the Slater Fund agent on the benefits of education, especially industrial education. Disparate comments, organized by sessions around the Black ministry, "Reports from the Field," Christian cooperation between the races, and industry and agriculture in the South filled the remaining three days. The comments included observations about the seriousness of Northern prejudice, the imitative character of Black people, their need to make homes of houses, their desire for education, their misery, the importance of higher education, and the discouraging prospects for national aid to education. As the final session drew to a close, Edward L. Pierce admitted that the conferees had solved no problems nor settled any questions. But he believed that "the catholic spirit and conscientious thought that have ruled this Conference. . . are to bring to pass, finally, the solution of this great problem." He hoped that its proceedings would attract "the attention of the public men and the journalists of the country."48
The 1891 Conference attracted less news coverage than its predecessor, an indication that the Conference had missed its mark. The Springfield Republican, for example, which had devoted many columns to the first conference, merely printed the final recommendations of the second. The fact that there was no succeeding conference gives further credence to the conclusion that the Mohonk Conferences had failed. Hayes's diary comments included bland adjectives like "interesting..., instructive....Much to encourage...[and] useful and inspiring."49
The two Conferences had not come to grips with the bonehard race issue in the United States. By redefining the reality of race from civil and political rights for all to the superiority of whites, the Mohonk conferees gave in to halfway measures, and, Pilate-fashion, washed their hands and gave up. Unable to resolve the curse of racial hostility, they acquiesced in the point of view of the dominant race, not a surprising development since it was the only race in attendance. Hayes, as the initiator of the Conferences, undoubtedly had higher hopes, rooted in his perception of the power of industrial education. For the African American, Mohonk was a farce, another example of white manipulation. For prominent whites, Mohonk was a buttress to prevailing white views. For Hayes, although he never wrote this, Mohonk was the one clear failure of industrial education. And yet, in the words of the 1890 Boston Herald editorial cited above, "it is a work worthy of ex-presidents."50
In the spectrum of Hayes's charitable activities, his focus on prison reform is the least obvious. His interest surfaced early in his political career, when, as Ohio's Governor in 1870, he presided over the first National Prison Association Congress in Cincinnati. A milestone event, the Congress laid down a framework for reform that the leading historian of the prison reform movement calls "a remarkable declaration of principles." Zebulon Brockway, a warden and a foremost prison reformer of the era, outlined his conception of an ideal prison based on the principle, then quite new, that prisons were not for the punishment of criminals but for the protection of society. Hayes's opening talk to the 1870 convention endorsed this principle.51
The National Prison Association (NPA) faded in the late 1870's, but began to breathe again in 1883. Its resuscitators quickly concluded that its success depended in large part upon respected and committed leadership. Hayes was a unanimous choice, and he quickly accepted the post of president, a job that lasted until his death ten years later. In accepting, Hayes made the same commitment to the Association that he made to any cause that drew him in - he would take an active role. As a result, he attended every annual Congress of the Association from 1884 on. He not only presided at these annual affairs but he also gave the keynote talk, which emphasized various reforms that he thought needed attention. Occasionally, he participated in the public discussion of the papers; undoubtedly he participated in the informal, unrecorded discussions that are an important adjunct of every convention.
The National Prison Association, now known as the American Correctional Association, was a useful mixture of prison officials from the most prominent state and local prisons, reformers like Roeliff Brinkerhoff and Franklin B. Sanborn, ministers, educators, and a sprinkling of others. At the time of Hayes's death, its membership stood over 200. An unusual and argumentative group, the Association provided a vehicle for testing ideas, challenging traditional prison methods, and promoting a cause with little public appeal and uncertain legislative support. Its annual sessions grappled with papers on prison discipline, prison architecture, the role (and usefulness) of chaplains, educating prisoners, prison labor, the separation of the sexes, the separation of first offenders from hardened criminals, and the care of discharged prisoners.52
The Association emerged at a time when the chaos of growing cities, enlarging industries, and massive immigration attracted problem solvers discomforted by disorder. The Association flourished in an era characterized by an expanding awareness of the centrality of science and an increasing importance of the role of professional reformers. At the core of the first emphasis were the physical and biological scientists breaking new ground. The social scientists attempting to apply rigid scientific principles to amorphous human situations were on the periphery. Like many educational reformers, prison reformers, reflecting the second emphasis, believed that the application of scientific laws to human institutions would bring predictable results. Hence, the emphasis on reforming prisoners through education, work habits, and a more wholesome environment. In the larger societal context, "the idea that poverty springs from vice was transformed into the idea that vice springs from poverty."53
Hayes realized that he was not a professional reformer, that he was not an innovator. "I preach no new doctrine - nothing original," he wrote in his diary in May of 1890. "It is as old as religion, that idleness is the friend of every vice and every crime and that industry is the mother of every virtue." He was also aware that the transformation of prisons from torture chambers to rehabilitation centers was essential for the good of society. He saw his role not as social scientist or professional reformer, but as mediator and sustainer. "My effort," he explained after noting in his diary that he had just written to several Board members on National Prison Association business, "is to encourage and to harmonize." In this he was eminently successful. "Possibly the factor that did more than anything else to hold the Association together," the historian of prison reform concluded, "was the personality of its president, Rutherford B. Hayes."54
His early keynote addresses generally rehearsed the purposes of the Association: to improve prison laws, prison management and discipline, and the care of released prisoners. The object of punishment under the law, he said in Detroit in 1885, is neither mercy nor revenge nor total justice; it is "the welfare of society." He went on to call for fair but speedy trails, juries composed of informed and thoughtful citizens, and more control over the use of legal technicalities to avoid conviction. "The mischief from which we suffer is not the conviction of the innocent but the escape of the guilty."55
His concern for the welfare of prisoners, especially those who were first offenders or showed evidence that they were reformable, tempered his approach to prison reform. When asked by a delegate on the floor to comment on a paper on the pardoning power, he elaborated on the possible use of that power to equalize prison terms. He believed that first offenders inadvertently received harsher sentences than seasoned criminals who knew how to manipulate the system to appear before the more lenient judges. The warden of Sing Sing, A. A. Brush, described his treatment of incorrigible prisoners by handcuffing them to a cell wall and then lifting them off their feet; after the first 10 seconds, Brush said a prisoner thinks he will be killed; after twenty seconds he believes in God, and after a half-minute, he promises that "you will never find me here again." Hayes's reaction was immediate. Was a prisoner ever seriously injured, he asked Brush. Though the reply was negative, Hayes had made his point.56
Hayes often characterized a prison Congress, as the annual meetings came to be known, as friendly. He believed that friendship was a lubricant for solutions, smoothing the way toward agreement and action. Characterizing the 1884 Saratoga Springs meeting as "exceedingly agreeable..., instructive and profitable," he concluded the sessions with the affirmation, "We have formed friendships which are likely to last." Closing the 1885 Congress in Detroit, Hayes told the assembly that he was sure that everyone there "will go home with deeper convictions [and] with warmer feelings" to help implement prison reform.57
The Congress met in Boston in the summer of 1888. Zebulon Brockway, the reform-minded superintendent of the Elmira Reformatory, had written General Roeliff Brinkerhoff, a reform-minded vice-president of the Association, that the Congress should "get beyond the discussion of buckets and brooms and consider principles rather than methods." Looking back, Brinkerhoff believed that this is what had occurred, the papers stressing "the reformation of prisoners rather than ...prison economics." Hayes thought his keynote speech was "a little 'communistic' in its tendency, the 'privileged class' will say," but he later wrote his wife that everything had gone off very well. "Never read a speech so well. It was received most flatteringly." The Congress, Brinkerhoff concluded with some satisfaction, jad moved from prisons as penalty to prisons as a vehicle to reform prisoners and protect society.58
As a politician and a civil service enthusiast, Hayes was alert to the dangers of patronage appointments of prison officers. In the mid-1880's, he often warned against this practice, urging appointments based on competence and merit. To these caveats, he added the important element: prisons needed sound management. "The first requisite of a good prison," he told a Detroit audience, "is a good head. Subordinates fit for their places is the next requisite." While political appointments of prison officials did not diminish during Hayes's term, the Congresses themselves "helped to coordinate prison developments throughout the expanding section of the country and supplied instruction for the new officers...thus preventing the anarchy of politics from swamping the few achievements already made in the field of penology." Slips did occur, however. Nashville's mayor over-imbibed before he tried to welcome the 1889 congress and was cut off. In a later session, when "one of the old and good wardens" fell off the wagon before his talk and was also cut off, Hayes observed in his diary that "This puts us even with our Nashville friends - we match their drunken mayor with our drunken warden."59
As Hayes became acquainted with and appreciative of leading prison officials, he spoke out on issues with less popular appeal. The cost of crime, he concluded in Pittsburgh in 1891, affected the public treasury and , consequently, "finds its way to every man's pockets." The costs of prisons, he maintained in Toronto in 1887, are an investment to reduce the long-range cost of crime by reforming criminals. The primary method of rehabilitation, he believed, was education, industrial education. Hayes told the Congress in Nashville in 1889 that "no education is a fit education, ... for any American boy or...girl, that does not fit him and her to earn their own living by the labor of their hands." When "immense applause" greeted his statement, he expressed his pleasure at their concurrence. "It saves me the trouble and you the weariness of an argument in that behalf." Again and again, Hayes returned to campaign for industrial education as "a preventive of crime" and a means of prisoner rehabilitation, even as he spoke across the nation in favor of industrial education for all children. By itself the argument for industrial education in prisons aroused little opposition, but when it involved prisoners working in prison under contract, the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor protested vigorously.60
The National Prison Association's mobile annual Congress offered Hayes a national podium from which he did not hesitate to expose the roots of his daily credo in behalf of children and the unforgiven. A stern yet compassionate set of beliefs impelled this man to preside over an organization that dealt with a subject lacking in charismatic public interest. Hayes believed that individuals held the principal control of their own being, what he called the "improvability of self-culture. A man can by self-culture, with care and perseverance, 'almost change the stamp of nature,'" correcting "defects", erasing "evil tendencies", replacing them with "all good tendencies and power." This philosophy emerged from his own experience, as he reconstructed it, overcoming youthful nervousness and "serious uneasiness" by rigorous self-control. He demonstrated this success, proven in Civil War battles, "recently," he wrote in October 1892, when in a dentist's chair. The dentist warned that filling a cavity would ' "disturb your nerves.' 'I have no nerves,'" Hayes replied, and promptly fell into "a sweet sleep" during the dentist's "pounding, grinding and filing."61
Hayes subscribed to harmony and consensus as the basis of accomplishment in organizations. He saw his responsibilities as president of the National Prison Association as a mediator between the professionals and the do-gooders, as a spokesman for the general public. While he joked to daughter Fanny that presiding meant sitting conspicuously in a large hall and , when "more light is needed touch[ing] a button that by electricity illuminates the hall," he was using a not-so-subtle metaphor about his role at the Congresses. He was serious about educating the public on prison reform. Free of the suspicion of self-advancement, he could bring to the nation ideas to improve its institutions and what we might today call its quality of life. The protection of society and the reformation of prisoners, two primary goals of the Association, fit Hayes's purposes with precision.62
In Toronto, Hayes stated his education-of-the-public theme most clearly. Recalling a phrase used by a previous speaker, "educating public opinion", Hayes proclaimed, "There is the task. Let it be talked about by the press, on the platform on the street, everywhere, until the people generally feel as the good men who have spoken here feel...then," he concluded, "all will be well." He was well aware that "an enlightened and favorable public opinion" was "an essential precursor for successful reform." His last presidential address, in Baltimore about five weeks before his death, reminded the Congress that "in America public opinion at last will govern and the citizens are indeed the sovereigns." The intelligent and thoughtful can leave decisions to the less able, he maintained, and the secrecy that prevails in corporations and labor unions can lead to despotism. In voluntary organizations, where the aim is the welfare of the less fortunate and where discussions are open and the press always welcome, lies the power "to counteract that indifference to the condition of the poor and needy, which is at last the enemy most to be dreaded in a free country, namely, the apathy of good citizens with respect to the evils which do not seem directly to concern themselves." Hayes, a self-controlled Victorian Republican, was at heart a democrat, a publicist with a significant message, a secular preacher of the Word that emphasized the essential worth and intertwined nature of every individual.63
The achievements of the National Prison Association in its first decade after reorganizing, and Hayes's contribution to them, are difficult to measure. The year after his death, the Association, and the science of penology took off on a different path, involving academic social scientists and stressing the results of scientific experimentation. That Hayes and his generation laid the groundwork for this "fundamental transformation," as the movement's historian calls it, is without doubt, but it is also without conclusive documentation. The opportunities to exchange ideas and practices; the exposure to professionals like chaplains, lawyers, and newspaper people; the welcomes extended to the annual Congress in major cities; and the harmonizing leadership of Rutherford B. Hayes brought the Association a measure of maturity and a measurable degree of acceptance. Prisoners were on their way to becoming people, prisons on their way to becoming educational institutions, crime was on its way to objective dissection and rational conclusions, and the public, still afraid to listen to and look at prison problems and solutions, was slowly beginning to open its ears and eyes.64
Hayes's role was that of a leader. He gave "stability and character" to the movement, one co-worker eulogized. He took "strong, often controversial positions," a recent popular history asserted. He believed in the essential goodness of individuals, but recognized, in words he quoted from Horatio Seymour, that "I have yet found a man so good that he need not fear a fall." He was a symbol, an outspoken voice, sensitive and intelligent. His prison work was, as General Brinkerhoff wrote at the turn of the century, "of the highest value." Brinkerhoff, a Tilden Democrat and Ohio friend of Hayes, rated Hayes's post-presidential career more creditable than that of any other ex-president. Hayes took an unpopular cause and threw the weight of his prestige behind it. It was a worthy and successful effort.65
This accounting of three Hayes's primary post-Presidential activities may suggest some responses to the questions about the role of ex-Presidents. With human longevity slowly increasing, the odds are that the nation will continue to have more than one former President alive and well for several years after their terms of office. The issue is current, if not urgent. Because the Hayes model is a century old, it is a useful case study. Times have changed, of course; today's ex-Presidents are salaried , secretaried, and secured with Secret Service operatives. But the basic issue of whether, and how, they serve the nation remains unclear.
There is not inflexible mold for White House alumni, but there is a model that, if followed, any contribute measurably to the country's health and well-being. Hayes stated it best in his March 1881 talk to his Fremont neighbors when he returned from Washington: "Let him, like every other good American citizen, be willing and prompt to bear his part in every useful work that will promote the welfare and the happiness of his family, his town, his State, and his country." To his credit, Hayes's actions fit his words.
From time to time, observers of the presidential scene, some with a hidden agenda, some with altruistic motives, suggest a specific spot in government, in the Senate, or the House, for ex-presidents. Others, as Daniel Boorstin did at a conference in the fall of 1989, contemplate a new entity, a Council of former Presidents whose expertise would then be available to sitting Presidents. Boorstin's idea, like earlier ones, was shot down aborning. Ex-Presidents do not need a structure; they can create their own platform.66
There are a few activities that the county can rightfully anticipate from a former President. Chief among these is his defense of his administration, whether by correspondence, speeches, articles, or memoirs. The public can grant this privilege as a rite of passage; it should expect defensiveness without having to accept it uncritically. The public can also expect selectiveness on the part of ex-Presidents. They cannot and about what to ignore and what to engage in derive from the privilege of office. The public, finally, can expect its former Chief Executives to live within the law and in a moral climate that allows them personal freedom without dishonor.
But the Hayes model goes further than these mild strictures. One phrase stands out in his 1881 formula-sentence: "like every other good American citizen." In a way, former Presidents step back into civilian life to march with the general population, sometimes in the lead, sometimes in the pack. They become just good American citizens. This may be the most difficult adjustment for today's candidates. Yet, in spite of differences of time and place that must be recognized, this is an obligation: to be a former President and just another good American citizen.
Former Presidents should, like Hayes, avoid the political rough-and-tumble. Without further political ambition, they are free to advise and counsel; if they begin to wheel and deal, they lose that precious "above-the-fray" perspective that only a former President has. Central to Hayes's model activity was his choice of organizations and causes to support. His three major interests were important issues of the day and his participation was useful, expansive, and stabilizing. He rejected anything that looked like window-dressing and, where possible, willingly let others take the lead, as in the temperance crusade. He sat with the most prestigious men and women in the country in the major cities east of the Mississippi River, and he also conversed and worked with ordinary, everyday Americans in local organizations. At all times, he was the same man; in his many roles from ex-President to neighbor, he was the same man. He did what he said he would do. A commitment was a promise and his conscience required that promises be fulfilled. "Conscience," Hayes wrote his youngest son, "is the authentic voice of God to you."67
Rutherford B. Hayes has not come down to us as a charismatic idealist. Yet, in his way, he lived as close to his stated ideals as he was able. He placed his talents, his strength, and his personal magnetism in the service of the welfare and happiness of his family, his town, his state, and his nation. Hie model of an ex-President deserves emulation.
1Rutherford B. Hayes (hereafter RBH) to William O. Stoddard, February, 1889 in Charles R Williams, The Life of Rutherford B. Hayes: Nineteenth President of the United States (Columbus: Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society, 1928), II, 336n1.
2In October, 1999, at the Hoover Presidential Library, a conference of historians, journalists, and presidential aides looked at 20th century former presidents. The papers and some of the discussion were published in 1990: Richard Norton Smith and Timothy Walxch, eds., Farewell to the Chief: Former Presidents in American Public Life (Worland: High Plains Publishing Co., 1990). The papers on Nixon and Carter, written by aides, offer more detail and little criticism of their subjects (119-134). Mr. Ford spoke in his own behalf (169-177) and Mr. Reagan was not represented. For Mr. Truman's views, see his Mr. Citizen (New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1960), 117, 122-126 and his April 21, 1961 letter to Congressman John S. Monagan, in Robert H. Ferrell, ed., Off the Record: The Private Papers of Harry S. Truman (New York: Harper & Row, 1980), 393-394.
5Guy M. Bryan to RBH, January 1, 1886; RBH to Bryan, January 24, 1886 in "Rutherford B. Hayes-Guy M. Bryan Correspondence," E. W. Winkler, ed., Southwestern Historical Quarterly,v.29, #2 (October, 1925), 153-154; Charles R. Williams, ed., Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes (Columbus: The Ohio Archeological and Historical Society, 1922-1926), IV, 181 (December 30, 1884), 432 (January 1, 1889), 440 (February 2, 1889). Truman recorded some reactions to his lack of privacy in Truman, Mr. Citizen, 32, 49-55 and Ferrell, Off the Record, 327, 378, 403. After 1930, Lewis Gould maintains in his essay on Taft and Coolidge, presidents "could no longer even pretend" to have private lives. Smith and Walch, Farewell to the Chief, 20. For Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, see idid., 98, 105, 120. A recent conference at Hofstra University directly reflected Jimmy Carter's views on and ex-President's role and only tangentially his concern with a lack of privacy. New York Times, November 19, 1990, p. A12 (National edition
7RBH to Bryan, January 4, 1892, in ibid., v.30, #1 (July, 1926), 71; National Prison Association of the United States of America, Second and Third Annual Report (Second Series) [Also 5th and 6th Report of Proceedings] (Boston, 1886), 134.
10Diary, October 19, 1890; August 18,1890, RBH to John Sherman, February 10, 16, 1885; Diary, November 21, 1886 and RBH to Mrs. Lucy Hayes, November 22, 1886; Diary, April 25, 1890, all in ibid., 606, 594, 190, 192, 295, 568.
11Information about other Presidents comes from the appropriate volumes of the Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928-1937) and the appropriate chapters from Frank Friedel, Our Country's Presidents (Washington: National Geographic Society, 1973). On Fillmore, see Homer F. Cunningham, The Presidents' Last Years: George Washington to Lyndon B. Johnson (Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 1989), 91-98. Of Hayes's successors, only Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter seem to have pursued comparable albeit different avenues of service. Smith and Walch, eds., Farewell to the Chief, 30-33, 41-43, 131-134.
13Two of his biographers succinctly sum up Hayes's post-Presidential philanthropic activities. See Harry Barnard, Rutherford B. Hayes and His America (Indianapolis: The Bobbs- Merrill Company, 1954) chs. LXXIII-LXXV, 503-523 and Williams, Life, II, chs. XL-XLI, 338-385. The reference to correspondence is in Williams, Life, II, 357; Williams, Diary and Letters, IV, 432.
14My article, "The Very Victorian Rutherford B. Hayes," in this journal, V, #4 (Summer, 1986), 10, 34n7 describes Hayes's feelings about his military service. There are several references to his military service. There are several references to his participation in military reunions in his diary. See Williams, Diary and Letters, IV, 7, 137, 159-160, 236-237, 337; V, 105-108.
15Mary R. Dearing, Veterans in Politics: The Story of the G. A. R. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana University Press, 1952), 113, 372; Williams, Diary and Letters, IV, 16 (May 6, 1881), 383 (April 13, 1888), 172 (November 4, 1884).
16Dearing, Veterans in Politics. Hayes's interest in organizing the Ohio Commandery surfaced in 1882. Williams, Diary and Letters, IV, 62, 83-84. On the Loyal Legion's purpose, see Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States [MOLLUS], Constitution and By-Laws (Philadelphia: n.p., 1880), 6.
17Williams, Diary and Letters, IV, 205-208, (April 16, 1885 and RBH to Lucy W. Hayes, April 16, 1885); MOLLUS, Address of Brevet Major-General Rutherford B. Hayes at the Quadrennial Congress, Chicago, April 17, 1885 (n.p., n.d.) [not paginated].
19MOLLUS, Commandery-in-Chief, Circulars, Series of 1888, #1 (Whole #26), #4 (Whole #29), #37 (Whole #32), #9 (Whole #34), #10 (Whole #36), Series of 1889, #2 (Whole #42), Series of 1890, #2 (Whole #80), Series of 1893, #3 (Whole #65), Series of 1892, #1 (Whole #80), Series of 1893, #3 (Whole #89); Williams, Diary and Letters, IV, 411-13 (October 18, 1888 and RBH to Lucy W. Hayes, October 17, 1888). Between 1880 and 1890, the GAR experienced similar healthy increases in membership, peaking at 400,000 in the latter year, with more than 400 chapters in each of six states, and 763 chapters in Ohio. Wallace E. Davies, Patriotism on Parade: The Story of Veterans' and Hereditary Organization in America, 1733-1900 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955), 35-37.
20The Legions's annual banquet exemplifies the social side of Legion comraderie. The February 1884 affair, described in detail in the Proceedings, included lunch and punch "spread upon the snowiest of linen," a multi-course dinner with wine and cigars, luxurious and patriotic decorations in every nook and cranny, and as a keepsake, a miniature patent leather knapsack and tiny grey wool blanket with a white satin lining printed with the evening's program. The total cost, per head, was $10. The dinner lasted for two hours and the program of speeches and music kept the Legion veterans at the tables for another three hours. The Recorder of the Ohio Commandery, MOLLUS, Proceedings of the First Annual Dinner, Burnet House, Cincinnati, February 6, 1884 (Cincinnati: Peter G. Thompson, 1884), 5, 9-16, 23-39.
21Williams, Diary and Letters, IV, 172, 538 (November 4, 1884, January 16, 1890). Rodney G. Minott, Peerless Patriots: Organized Veterans and the Spirit of Americanism (Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1962) in his Introduction (pp. 1-16) relates the rise of veterans' organizations in the late nineteenth century to the surging forces of nationalism, racism, cultural chasms, and class conflict. See esp. 8-11. go back
22Brevet Major Charles Devens, Address delivered at the Celebration of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Phildelphia, April 15, 1890 (Philadelphia: n.p., 1890), 5-6.
24Williams, Diary and Letters, IV, 148 (April 30, May 1, 1884), 172 (November 4, 1884), 189 (February 8, 1885), 206-207 (April 16, 1885), 266 (February 8, 1885), 206-207 (April 16, 1885), 266 (February 13, 1886), 295-296 (December 5, 1886), 305 (RBH to Capt. A. H. Mattox, Jamuary 12, 1887), 572-573 (May 8, 1890).
26Recorder of the Ohio Commandery, MOLLUS, Proceedings, February 6, 1884, 48. The literature on the Vietnam veteran is extensive and I have not plumbed its depth. Several studies suggest that many Vietnam veterans suffered from loneliness and the inability of non-veterans to appreciate what they had gone through. The established veterans' organizations were late in the precursor to the Vietnam vets but it was not until 1978 that the precursor to the Vietnam Veterans of America was formed. One study of a cohort of 500 Vietnam combat veterans, compared to an equal number of non-combat veterans and non-veterans, found that the Vietnam experience produced a significantly higher proportion of veterans who had difficulty in feeling close to someone who suffered a syndrome called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which included the inability to become close to another person. Paul Starr, The Discarded Army: Veterans after Vietnam (New York: Charterhouse, 1973), 30-31; David E. Bonior, Steven M. Champlin, and Timothy S. Kolly, The Vietnam Veteran: A History of Neglect (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1984), 179-180, 189; Josefina J. Card, Lives After Vietnam: The Personal Impact of Military Service (Lexington: Lexington Books, D.C. Heath & Co., 1983), xvii, 96, 148-149. Black Vietnam veterans had similar experiences. See Wallace Terry, Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans (New York; Random House, 1984), 91-92, 299. I have also observed that World War II veterans, in this case, friends who were pilots, would come together at social gatherings in order to share their war stories and experiences.
27Williams, Diary and Letters, IV, 115 (April 17, 1883). See also, RBH to Warton Barker, February 23, 1885 from the Wharton Barker Papers, Library of Congress (copy at Hayes Presidential Center): "My time is well taken up with educational work and my private affairs." What follows this paragraph considerably expands my very brief treatment of Hayes's interest in education in Fishel, "The Very Victorian Rutherford B. Hayes," loc. cit., 30-31.
32Timothy D. Franck, "An Historical-Descriptive Study of Rutherford Birchard Hayes and the Chautauqua, "(Ph.D. dissertation, Bowling Green State University, 1975), 105-107. The Hayes letter is dated July 31, 1883.
33Franck, "Hayes and the Chautuaqua," 107, 123-137. The first quotation is from Williams, Diary and Letters, V, 13 (July 8, 1891). The second quotation is cited by Franck, from Hayes's diary, July 1, 1891.
36Professional educators at all levels offered a variety of working definitions and programs centered on industrial education. A Massachusetts city superintendent of schools, later to serve a term as president of the National Education Association, identified four separate elements of industrial education in 1888, from gymnastics to mental training. On the other hand a Washington University professor constructed a sequence of courses which stretched from manual training to the laboratory over a five-year period. He ruled out shop work which he classified as production, not education. A mathematics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) established a manual training high school associated with MIT "to restore the dignity of labor to manual occupations." A number of educators lacked sympathy for industrial education, including William T. Harris, the United States Commissioner of Education and several university presidents. They distinguished manual training as an approach for those with lesser potential, and technological education for those competent to do college work. Daniel Gilman of John Hopkins, Charles Eliot of Harvard, and Andrew White of Cornell generally concurred with this latter position. U. S. Bureau of Education, Proceedings of the Department of Superintendence of the National Educational Association, Washington, D. C., February 14-16, 1888. Circular of Information No. 6, 1888 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1888), 21-34; Berenice M. Fisher, Industrial Education: American Ideals and Institutions (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976), 52-56, 58-75, 80-82.
37U. S. Bureau of Education, Proceedings...National Educational Association, 1888, 19-20, 34-41; Fisher, Industrial Education, 146-151; Rev. A. D. Mayo, "Industrial Education in the South," U. S. Bureau of Education, Circular of Information No. 5, 1888 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1888), 11.
39On Harris, see Fisher, Industrial Education, 81-82 and his 1892 article, "The Education of the Negro," Atlantic Monthly, LXIX (June, 1892), 721-736. On Mayo, see Fisher, Industrial Education, 151-157 and his essay, previously cited, Industrial Education in the South, U. S. Bureau of Education Circular of Information No. 5, passim. For Haygood and Curry, see August Meier, Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1963), 90-95. A more extended treatment by Meier is in his earlier article "The Vogue of Industrial Education," Midwest Journal, VII, #3 (Fall, 1995), 246-250, 261-262. Donald Spivey, Schooling for the New Slavery: Black Industrial Education, 1868-1915 (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1978), 28-31, 76-82, deals with Curry more harshly.
40The literature on the Slater Fund is extensive. Louis Rubin, Jr., ed., To Teach the Freedman: The Correspondence of Rutherford B. Hayes and the Slater Fund for Negro Education 1881-1893,2v. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959) is a basic source. See also John E. Fisher, The John F. Slater Fund: A Nineteenth Century Affirmative Action for Negro Education(Lanham: University Press of America, 1986). Roy E. Finkenbine, "'Our Little Circle': Benevolent Reformers, the Slater Fund and the Argument for Black Industrial Education, 1882-1908," Hayes Historical Journal, VI, #1 (Fall, 1986), 6-22 challenges the shibboleths of Northern paternalism. The Peabody Education Fund has a sparser bibliography. J. L. M. Curry published his account in 1898 and it has been reprinted: A Brief Sketch of George Peabody, and A History of the Peabody Education Fund Through Thirty Years (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969). The Fund's Proceedings 1867-1880 have been published in six volumes, but I have not used them.
41Larry E. Burgess, "We'll Discuss it a Mohonk,'" Quaker History, LX (Spring, 1971), 14-21. See also Burgess's biography of the Smiley brothers, Alfred, Albert, and Daniel Smiley: A Biography(Redlands: Beacon Printery, 1969); Laurence M. Hauptman, The Lake Mohonk Conference on the Negro Question: Guide to Annual Reports (New York: Clearwater Publishing Company, 1975); Benjamin F. Trueblook, "Mohonk and Its Conferences," New England Magazine, XVI, #4 (June, 1897), 447-464: Isabel C. Barrows, "A Moral Citadel," The Outlook, V. 97 (March 25, 1911), 667-679.
42Hauptman, Lake Mohonk Conference, 152. The list of conferees is printed in Barrows, ed., First Mohonk Conference, 140-142; Hayes's diary comment is in Williams, Diary and Letters, IV, 578 (June, 3, 1890).
44Barrows, First Mohonk Conference, 12-35, 77-84, 86-93, 104-123. For a comment on White's position, see Glenn C. Altschuler, Andrew D. White - Educator, Historian, Diplomat (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979), 184.
46Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, June 21, 1890, 415. The following newspaper articles, all June, 1890 but some undated, can be found at the Hayes Presidential Center in the R. B. Hayes and W. C. Hayes Clipping Box, M-N, Folder "Negroes:" Springfield Republican, June 6, ?, and 21; New York Tribune, June 6, Chicago InterOcean, June 5, Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 5, Minneapolis Journal, June 4, and Boston Herald, no date. See also the Atlanta Constitution editorial, "Mr. Hayes Makes a Remark," June 10, 1890. For a comment from the New York World, see Public Opinion, IX (June 14, 1890), 221.
49Springfield Republican, June 6, 1891; Williams, Diary and Letters, v, 9 (June 96, 1891). Isabel Barrows, the editor of the published proceedings of the two conferences, remembered the many Lake Mohonk conferences twenty years after the second Negro Conference in "A Moral Citadel," The Outlook, v. 97 (March 25, 1911), 675: "For various reasons," she wrote "it did not seem best to continue them." Mohonk was too far removed for Southerners to travel, "except in small numbers," and it was felt that a meeting of this type "should be nearer the heart of the difficulty. Besides," she added, "the Negroes themselves were discussing their own way to success."
50See George M. Frederickson, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914 (New York: Harper Torchbook, Harper & Row, 1971), Chapters VII, especially 204-216, VIII, and X, especially 283-304.
51Blake McKelvey, American Prisons: A History of Good Intentions (Montclair: Patterson Smith, 1977), 82, 91. Zebulon Brockway's 1870 paper is reprinted as Appendix I in his autobiography, Fifty Years of Prison Service [reprint of original 1912 edition] (Monclair: Patterson Smith, 1969), 389-408.
52National Prison Association, Second and Third Annual Report, 35; National Prison Association, Proceedings of the National Prison Congress, Atlanta,1886 (Chicago: R.R. Donnelley & Sons, The Lakeside Press, 1887), 28; W. M. F. Round, "Gen. Rutherford B. Hayes," [Eulogy] in National Prison Association, Proceedings of the Annual Congress, Baltimore, December 3-7, 1892 (Pittsburgh: Shaw Brothers, Printers, 1893), 266-270.
59National Prison Association, Second and Third Annual Report, 105, 137-138; National Prison Association, Proceedings of the National Prison Congress, Atlanta, 1886, 323; National Prison Association, Proceedings of the Annual Congress, Cincinnati, 1890 (Pittsburgh: Shaw Brothers, Printers, 1891), 16; National Prison Association, Proceedings of the AnnualCongress, Pittsburg, 1891 (Pittsburg: Shaw Brothers, Printers, 1892), 17-21; McKelvey, American Prisons, 143; Williams, Diary and Letters, IV (November 18, 1889), 524.
60National Prison Association, Proceedings of the Annual Congress, Toronto, 1887 (Chicago: Knight and Leonard Co., Printers, 1889), 50, 55; National Prison Association, Proceedings of the Annual Congress, Nashville, 1889 (Chicago: Knight and Leonard, Co., Printers, 1890), 14, 20; National Prison Association, Proceedings, Cincinnati, 17; National Prison Association, Proceedings, Pittsburgh, 21; Williams, Diary and Letters, IV (November 4, 1889), 520; McKelvey, American Prisons, 117.
65National Prison Association, Proceedings, Baltimore, 266, 13; American Correctional Association, The American Prison: From the Beginning, a Pictorial History ( n.p.: American Correctional Association, Publishers, 1983), 75; Brinkerhoff, Recollections, 228.
67For the March, 1881 speech, see n2 above. The "Conscience" quote is the Williams, Diary and Letters, V, 135 (RBH to Scott Hayes, March 19, 1892). The literature on ex-presidents is sparse and not of high quality. In addition to those works already noted, Winthrop Dudley Sheldon published a pamphlet survey titled The Ex-Presidents of the United States: How Each Played a Role(Philadelphia: n.p., 1925), which barely skims the surface. James C. Clark's Faded Glory: Presidents Out of Power (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1985) is unreliable. On p. 83, for example, Hayes, the subject of the sketch, is called "Harrison" several times. Alan Evan Schenker offers a scale with which to evaluate former presidents in his article "Former Presidents: Suggestions for the Study of an Often Neglected Resource," Presidential Studies Quarterly, v.12, #4 (Fall, 1982), 545-551. His concept needs further development. Marie B. Hecht's Beyond the Presidency: The Residues of Power (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1976) approaches the subject topically; ex-Presidents involved with warmaking, peacemaking, politics, and so on. Her concluding sentence (p. 313) is worth repeating: "The proper use of ex-presidents is to let them determine the disposition of their twilight years according to their own preferences and abilities.."