Tags: Presidential History | first lady | rutherford hayes

Lucy Hayes: The Causes That Defined President Rutherford Hayes' First Lady

By    |   Tuesday, 09 Jun 2015 11:47 AM

Lucille “Lucy” Ware Webb Hayes, wife of the 19th President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, was the first First Lady to graduate from college after earning her degree from Wesleyan Female College in Ohio.

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Born in 1831 to an abolitionist, teetotaling family in Ohio, Lucy met Rutherford at his mother’s prompting while she was still a student. Because he believed her to be too young at the time, the young lawyer didn’t become seriously interested in Lucy until four years later.

They married in 1852 and had eight children, five of whom reached adulthood.

Lucy supported Rutherford in his position as a major general during the Civil War. He was wounded five times during the war.

After he was seriously wounded at the Battle of South Mountain, Lucy accompanied her husband to his other encampments where she earned the names “Mother of the Regiment” and “Mother Lucy” as she tended to the sick and wounded soldiers, according to the History Channel. 

After the war, Rutherford was elected to serve in Congress before he became the governor of Ohio in 1867. After a highly controversial presidential election in 1876, Rutherford came to the White House after the electoral dispute was settled by the Compromise of 1877.

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Lucy garnered some criticism for her support of the temperance movement and her subsequent alcohol ban in the White House – a ban that earned her the nickname of “Lemonade Lucy.”

Despite that, she became a popular First Lady and came to the White House armed with an unusually high education that represented the “new woman era,” according to the Whitehouse.gov. 

Lucy supported a variety of causes during her time as First Lady, including funding for mental healthcare, education, and Washington’s poor communities. She visited the National Soldier’s Home for disabled veterans and the Institute for the Deaf, as well as prisons, hospitals, and asylums.

She set the standard for political activity amongst the First Ladies, according to the History Channel.

She also instituted the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. 

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Lucille “Lucy” Ware Webb Hayes, wife of the 19th President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, was the first First Lady to graduate from college after earning her degree from Wesleyan Female College in Ohio.
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2015-47-09
Tuesday, 09 Jun 2015 11:47 AM
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