Posts Tagged With: american presidents

Ohio’s Legacy: Rutherford B. Hayes & The Original, Contentious, Deceptive Presidential Election

hayesRutherford B. Hayes was one of the first men to be elected president without receiving the majority of the popular vote. The first was John Quincy Adams — who lost in both the Electoral College and popular vote to Andrew Jackson. At issue was the fact that neither Adams nor Jackson received the required 131 electoral votes, which pushed the decision to the House of Representatives — who selected Adams.

But with Hayes, it was an even more contentious situation. Hayes, the Republican candidate, ran against New York Governor Democrat Samuel J. Tilden and from the beginning Tilden was projected to win. On the night of the election, the popular vote indicated that Tilden had won by as much as 300,000 votes.

Hayes went to bed that night, presuming he had lost.

So What Happened?

Well, the Republican National Chairman found a loophole and wasn’t ready to admit defeat. What unfolded was a blight on the election process.

To win the presidency in 1876, a candidate needed 185 electoral votes. For Hayes to win, he needed the contested electoral votes in Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida. If all the disputed electoral votes went to him, he would become president, however if just a single vote went to Tilden, Tilden would become the 19th U.S. president.

The process dragged on until January 1877 when Congress established an Electoral Commission to resolve the issue. The commission, made up of eight Republicans and seven Democrats, voted along Party lines in favor of Hayes — eight to seven — on the contested votes in Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida. This gave Hayes the win with 185 electoral votes to Tilden’s 184.

Some historians say a backroom deal was broker in the process because the South was threatening to secede (again) if Hayes was elected. The deal, these historians say, included at least two promises:  Hayes would only serve one term and the Reconstruction laws imposed on the South would be lifted.

Both actions came to pass.

Learn more

There is actually a free book, written about 30 years after the election, that sheds a lot of light on the illegal and unethical activities by both the Democrat and Republican Parties in the 1876 election. You can read the book online here, but a simpler way to read it is with a Kindle or Kindle-like device. The book title is The Hayes-Tilden Disputed Presidential Election of 1876 by Paul Leland Haworth.

Ohio’s Presidential Legacy

Read more from the series:

Categories: American History, Ohio History | Tags: ,

19th Century United States President’s Death Is Quite The Mystery

Zachary TaylorI’ll admit, I know very little about President Zachary Taylor — but then, really who does know much about the country’s 12th president? I came across a tidbit about his death while reading American Massacre, and according to the book, when Taylor died, Brigham Young, leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints allegedly rejoiced and said,

Taylor is dead and in Hell…any President of the United States who lifts his finger against this people shall die an untimely death, and go to Hell.

So, I wondered, how did he die?

Taylor, who had been in office for 16 months, attended festivities on the Fourth of July in 1850 at the newly dedicated grounds where the Washington Monument was to be built. While at the event, Taylor ate a ‘large quantity’ of iced cherries and drank iced milk before returning to the White House. At the White House, he consumed several glasses of water. As the day progressed he complained of severe stomach pains.

Five days later he was dead.

Although, doctors listed his cause of death as “cholera morbus,” a term no longer scientifically used, some theorize he died of food poisoning/Salmonella, others say it was a sunstroke (the day was extremely hot and Taylor was dressed to the hilt in black), while others felt the acidity of the cherries combined with the milk did him in.

Regardless, his death most likely postponed the Civil War by 11 years as Taylor,  adamantly opposed to slavery, had vowed to personally lead a military attack against any state threatening to leave the Union.

The Taylor FileWas Taylor Assassinated?
The President’s body was exhumed in the early 1990s due, in part, to the work of novelist Clara Rising who went on to publish The Taylor File: The Mysterious Death of a President. In a New York Times article about the forensic results on Taylor’s body, experts dismissed the possibility of assassination by poisoning due to the low concentration of arsenic in Taylor’s tissues.

Categories: American History | Tags: , ,

U.S. President with previous experience as hangman? Absolutely.


Growing up in Ohio I knew seven U.S. presidents were born here and I knew from high school history class that Grover Cleveland was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. But, what I didn’t learn in history class was The Buffalo Hangman performed two executions during his three years as sheriff — apparently to save $20.

In 1870, Cleveland was elected sheriff of Erie County, New York. One of the responsibilities he had as sheriff was to make sure death sentences were carried out. Although not required to physically do the execution, (he could pay a deputy $10 to perform the task) for whatever reason Cleveland chose to be the one to open the trap door for two prisoners.

According to a New York Times article [pdf], dated Sept. 7, 1872, the first man Cleveland executed, by hanging, was Patrick Morrissey.

The rope was adjusted and the black cap drawn over his face, when the signal was given to the Sheriff, who sprung the trap at 12:05 o’clock.

The article continues saying that Morrissey died instantly. Although, the next few sentences seem to contradict the statement.

At eight minutes after dropping the pulse ceased, and at 12 minutes the heart ceased to beat, and life was pronounced extinct by the physicians.

Although the concept of a president as an executioner seems very unique, Morrissey’s story and crime unfortunately were not. Morrissey, who was born in Ireland, came to America as an infant with his parents. His introduction to a life of crime started at 11 when he spent six months in a detention center. By his late teens or early 20s, he was sentenced and served three years in prison for larceny.

At the age of 29, he was convicted of killing his widowed mother in her own home. Apparently around 2 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, Morrissey had drank a little too much and was inebriated. His mother was in the dining room using a carving knife to cut some meat she had cooked. An argument ensued, she order him to leave, he grabbed the knife and stabbed her in the chest. He did not attempt to escape, and was taken into police custody.

But drinking and violence must have run in the family, because at the trial, two of his sisters testified that their mother would get drunk, angry and that all the children had ‘marks of wounds’ received from their mother.

On the day of his death, Morrissey read a statement taking full responsibility for the crime, saying though he did not remember committing it and advised those present to avoid ‘intoxicating drinks and evil associates.’

Cleveland’s second and last execution was on Feb. 14, 1873 when John Gaffney was hanged — also for a murder conviction.

Grover Cleveland Facts:

Categories: American History | Tags: , , ,