American Presidents

andrew johnson American Presidents Teacher Guide

The Life of President Rutherford B. Hayes
July 19, 1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use:
Secondary Level

This Teacher Guide was developed by 1999 C-SPAN High School Teacher Fellow Steven Vetter who teaches reading to 7th graders at West Hernando Middle School in Brooksville, Florida. C-SPAN provided by Time Warner.


1. To learn about the life and presidency of President Hayes
2. To recognize the accomplishments of President Hayes
3. To learn interesting facts and trivia about President Hayes' White House years


  • C-SPAN's American Presidents programming featuring President Rutherford B. Hayes
  • C-SPAN's American Presidents web site

Before Viewing American Presidents
Before you watch the program on President Rutherford B. Hayes, discuss the following questions with your students:

1. When Rutherford Hayes was young, he wrote in his diary that he had "always been ambitious… dreaming of future glory, of performing some virtuous or patriotic action." What role do you think that ambition and self-confidence play in preparing a person to seek elective office? Which other presidents do you know who were ambitious and actively sought ways to seek a position of power and influence?

2. What challenges do you think President Hayes faced as he entered office in 1877?

3. What kind of temperament or character would a person have to possess in order to lead the country after the Civil War?

4. What advice would you give to a new president, seeking to gain the confidence of the public?

While Viewing American Presidents

Part One
Directions: While watching the American Presidents segment on Rutherford B. Hayes, watch for details and answer the following questions.

1. What was Rutherford B. Hayes' childhood like? Describe his relationship with his uncle, Sardis Birchard. Describe his relationship with his sister, Fanny.

2. How important was education to Rutherford B. Hayes? What was his educational background? Was Rutherford B. Hayes ambitious as a young man? What evidence did you find?

3. What was Rutherford B. Hayes' profession before he entered public service? Did he achieve success in this career?

4. Describe Rutherford B. Hayes' experiences as an officer in the Civil War.

5. What was Rutherford B. Hayes' position on slavery?

6. What public offices did Rutherford B. Hayes hold prior to being elected to the presidency? Did he experience success in these positions? What evidence did you find?

7. Describe the controversy surrounding the election of 1876. What role did the Congress play in the resolution of this conflict?

8. Why did President Hayes take the oath of office in the White House instead of at a public ceremony?

9. Why did President Hayes decide to withdraw federal troops from the formerly occupied Southern states? How did President Hayes attempt to protect the rights of freed blacks?

10. President Hayes initiated civil service reform during his administration and worked to end the patronage system that rewarded people for political favors with public office. What problems did President Hayes face while trying to reform this system?

11. Describe how President Hayes expressed his concern about minorities, the poor, and immigrants. What action did President Hayes take to assist these groups of people?

12. Why did President Hayes refuse to run for a second term? What was his life like after his presidency?

Part Two
Fun Facts and Trivia Associated with President Rutherford B. Hayes

1. President Hayes was the first president to have this means of communication in the White House. What was it?

2. President Hayes was the first president to have this office machine in the White House. What was it?

3. President Hayes and his wife, Lucy, began this popular tradition on the White House lawn. What is this tradition? With which holiday is this tradition associated?

4. Lucy Hayes was the first wife of the president to have this title. What was this title?

5. There is also a nickname associated with Lucy Hayes. What was this nickname? How did Mrs. Hayes acquire this nickname?

6. President Hayes was the first president to travel to this region of the country. To where did President Hayes travel during his presidency?

7. President Hayes was injured several times during the Civil War. How many times was President Hayes injured during the war?

After Viewing American Presidents
Assign one of the following activities to your class:

1. President Rutherford B. Hayes was one of only three presidents to keep a diary while in office. In fact, President Hayes kept a diary from age 12 to his death at age 70. If you could read a week's worth of entries from President Hayes' diary, from which period of his life would you choose? His childhood? His teenage years? His early political career? His presidency? His post-presidency years in retirement? Explain your choice.

2. After he had left the presidency, President Hayes expressed his satisfaction with his presidential years. He wrote: "Nobody ever left the Presidency with less regret, less disappointment, fewer heartburnings, or more general content with the results of his term… that I do." Do you think that President Hayes was justified in being pleased with his presidential term? Support your argument with facts and details that you learned from this program.

3. A biographical sketch on the Hayes Presidential Center web site says that President Rutherford B. Hayes brought "dignity, honesty, and moderate reform" to the White House. Write an extended paragraph in which you agree or disagree with this statement.

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