Dear Alum: Rutherford B. Hayes, 1842

Kenyon’s alumni are some of the best and brightest in the world (we happen to think). In this feature, we’ll be celebrating some of our most beloved Kenyon alums with the highest honor any mortal can hope to achieve: notes/letters published on the Internet. Yes, that’s right, the Internet.

What were you hiding in there, Rutherford? (via

Dear President Hayes,

Oh Rutherford, where should we begin? Maybe at the Compromise of 1877? When you ended Reconstruction? And basically screwed over the Black population of the United States? No? Okay. Well. Nah, I’m joshin’ ya, Rutherford. Reconstruction wasn’t going well anyways. Why not follow in such wonderful footsteps as Andrew Johnson. It’s easier that way, Rutherford. Anything to get into the Presidency, right?

You weren’t a bad guy, RBH. I know that. You were smart–valedictorian of your class, and Philomathesian orator. Your years at Kenyon were good. You were well-liked; you learned a lot, even if you didn’t use many of those lessons while in office.

I know I’m being harsh here, Rutherford, and I do know the good things you did. You fought valiantly for the Union in the Civil War, kept the White House sober, and helped the country trust the President once again. But I can’t help but be critical of your policy towards African and Native Americans, as well as your devotion to the Gold Standard, and your reaction to the Great Railroad Strike of 1877.

As a member of the Philomathesian Society, I think the best way to honor your memory is, in fact, to be critical of it. To debate it, and not to vapidly celebrate an alumnus just because he went to your alma mater. We are proud to have you as a Kenyon alum, Rutherford, but it is our duty as students at Kenyon to question your legacy. I hope you can be proud of us for it.

With fondest regards,

Claire Berman

3 responses

  1. Pingback: We Downloaded Average Photos of Famous Kenyon Alumni. What Happened Next Will Astound You. | The Thrill

  2. id like to recall something my history professor said while teaching a class in hayes, “ah, hayes, or, as i like to call it, the compromise of 1877 building”

  3. Pingback: 10 o’clock list: Tinder Profiles of Kenyon Alumni | The Thrill

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