Ohio History Journal





Travels of President

Rutherford B. Hayes




In a predominantly newspaper age, long before the advent of radio and television,

Ohio's President Rutherford B. Hayes spent much of his four-year term traveling

throughout the United States. Beset by critics in both the political arena and the

press, he strove to put his cause and himself directly before the American people.

While many of his trips were avowedly nonpolitical, they definitely helped to pro-

ject a favorable image of the Chief Executive, his family, and his advisers. More-

over, the President's many travels strengthened the power and reach of the

presidential office and proved to be one of his more effective political maneuvers.

In addition to extended official tours into New England, the South, and the West,

Hayes made many shorter trips to attend state and county fairs, dedications, his-

torical anniversaries, and commencement ceremonies. Harvard, Yale, and Johns

Hopkins all conferred honorary doctorates on the visiting Chief Executive.1 In

New York City Hayes participated in the dedication of new buildings for the Mus-

eum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, two major land-

marks in the nation's cultural progress.2 Other junkets took him to Mount Vernon

and James Madison's estate in Virginia. In the summer of 1879, accompanied by

four cabinet officers, he explored the ruins of Westmoreland (Washington's birth-

place). After dropping anchor in the Potomac River, he was carried ashore by

sailors, and then hiked a mile over marshy ground.3 What Hayes enjoyed most,

however, were soldiers' reunions.

On another trip to see the famous North Dakota wheat fields just before harvest

time, he also attended the opening of the Minnesota state fair. An episode typical of

the ineptitude of special committees occurred here. Ex-Governor Alexander Ramsey

and his wife, friends of the Hayes, wished to open their new home for a general recep-

tion, but the local committee declined their offer in favor of a hotel banquet and

reception, adding the suggestion that instead the Ramseys might entertain the

President and his party for breakfast. So a club breakfast featuring filets mignon

and prairie chicken was prepared and served by Mrs. Ramsey and her servants.



1. Hayes received a LL.D. at Harvard, June 27, 1877; a LL.D. at Yale, July 1, 1880; a LL.D. at

Johns Hopkins, February 12, 1881.

2. Hayes Diary, December 26, 1877, and April 1, 1880, Hayes Papers, Rutherford B. Hayes Library,

Fremont, Ohio.

3. Ibid., July 7, 1879.


Mr. Davison is chairman American Studies department, Heidelberg College.

At five o'clock that afternoon when the official party returned from the fair, Mrs.

Ramsey casually inquired of her husband when the committee would arrive to

escort President and Mrs. Hayes to the hotel banquet. She was stunned to be told

the committee could not manage a banquet for such a large crowd and that only

a reception would be held. That meant she would be responsible for serving the

dinner! With nothing prepared to eat in the house, her servants still at the fair,

and no caterer nearby, Mrs. Ramsey frantically searched her wooden icebox and

found what remained of the morning meal. Dinner was prepared using the sirloins

(from which the filets had been removed) and the legs of the prairie chickens which

she good-naturedly told the President were considered the most delicate part of

the bird. In her gracious manner Mrs. Hayes assured her hostess she enjoyed the

meal far more than if the official banquet had been held. This was no doubt true.


62                                                                   OHIO HISTORY


But for Mrs. Ramsey it was not the dinner she would have wished to set before the

President and First Lady of the land!4

The President's great concern for education prompted a number of other trips

and important speeches. On these occasions he was usually accompanied by Mrs.

Hayes. Early in his term they took an interest in Virginia's Hampton Institute, a

co-educational teacher training and agricultural school for black Americans, located

on the shore of the bay into which the first American slave ship had sailed in

1619.5 In 1878 and again in 1880 Hayes came to anniversary ceremonies at Hampton,

counseling the students "to work--to earn--to save.  . . . If you earn $10--save a

little of it. If you earn $100, save more. The difference between spending all and

saving something is the difference between misery and happiness."6 He recognized

that peaceful resolution of the problems of a multi-racial society was the most pres-

sing challenge still confronting the nation: "How to deal with these various classes,

these different populations which make up American society. . . . The main ques-

tion is how to fuse them into one great, harmonious whole. That question Hampton

Institute is solving. It is by dealing with all as children of our great Father. . .

Sectionalism and race prejudice . . . are the only two enemies America has any

cause to fear."7

A return to Gambier, Ohio, was always a favorite pilgrimage of the President.

At the June 1880 commencement exercises he noted, with pardonable pride, the

progress of his Alma Mater: "Kenyon College plainly now stands on a solid

foundation. Situated as it is near the center of the Central State of the Union--

easily reached from all parts of the Country--with a site of unsurpassed beauty--

perfectly healthy and comfortable for labor and study at all seasons--removed

completely from every influence unfriendly to virtue and to scholarly pursuits--

with ample grounds and buildings, and out of debt." Drawing upon his own ex-

perience, the President continued in his praise of the virtues of similar institutions:

The student of the small college who has diligently and thoroughly mastered the studies

of his courses will surely find that he is at no disadvantage as compared with the greatest

of what are known as the great-Colleges in the training, elementary knowledge, and habits

of thought and study which are requisite for success in the professions or in any field of

learning or science which he may choose to enter. There are compensations in the little

colleges for the well known advantages of the larger institutions. I do not disparage the

great colleges. I know by comparison of results. I merely say to you as students of one of

the smaller colleges you need not dread more than others the competitions by which in

practical life merit is discovered and determined.8

Many unusual episodes occurred in the course of Hayes' travels. On a trip to

Philadelphia to spend the 1879 Thanksgiving holiday with the family of Methodist

Bishop Matthew Simpson, the President departed from the standard official policy


4. Fargo Republican, September 11, 1878, newspaper clipping in Hayes Scrapbook, Vol. 112, pp.

139-140, Hayes Papers; Marion Ramsey Furness, "Childhood Recollections of Old St. Paul," Minnesota

History, XXIX (June 1948), 128-129.

5. "Mrs. Hayes wants to have an interest in your Excellent Institution by contributing enough to

support at least one pupil at the Institution. If you will let me know the amount required and when

it should be sent &c &c I will remit." Hayes to Gen. Armstrong, August 27, 1877, photostat in Hayes

Papers from original letter in the Massachusetts Historical Society.

6. Cited in Southern Workman, VII (June 1878), 46.

7. Southern Workman, IX (June 1880), 68.

8. Original manuscript, pages 51-52, Edward C. Benson Scrapbook, Kenyon College Library,

Gambier, Ohio.

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Travels of R. B. Hayes                                                        63


of traveling by special railway car. Instead, accompanied by his valet, Isaiah Lan-

caster, he purchased two coach tickets for the 5:30 P.M. Baltimore and Potomac

train. The action was typical, for throughout his public career, Hayes took pleasure

in appearing incognito. He liked to know what people were thinking without in-

hibiting their conversation by his high office. Somewhat to his chagrin he dis-

covered the technique did not work so well now that he was President of the

United States. An excerpt from Hayes' diary reveals his difficulties:


I preferred to go without fuss. I had a ticket to Baltimore. But paid forty cents--apparently

for Isaiah, but I didn't understand it. A family ticket which I had, included I suppose ser-

vants. I was as polite as the conductor, and made no remark. Fare was paid from Baltimore

to Phila. for both of us--I think 3:00 [sic] each. On my return I paid $15.00 for fare on

B. & O. and for sleeping berths--two sections, leaving Phila. at 11:30 p.m. Soon after

lying down the Conductor told me he had orders to return my fare. I took it without count-

ing. This morning at 7 a.m. before leaving the car the conductor told me he had orders

to return me the fare paid on the 26th and gave me 3:00 [sic]. This was for fare I suppose

leaving me to pay for my own sleeping berth. All of this pleasantly done, but I suspect I

make less trouble if I ask for a special car.

Still he had some measure of success: "On the way up a Mr. Sutton of the Eastern

Shore--clerk in the great wholesale store of Jacob__& Co., Phila., took a seat by

my side. I got much interesting information about his business and the trade gener-


Of all the Hayes' tours, the most dramatic and extended was a western trip to

the Pacific Coast and return in the fall of 1880.10 This marked the first time any

President had crossed the continent while in office, although Grant had visited as

far as Utah in 1875. The trip, personally nonpolitical in nature with few prepared

speeches, allowed Hayes to do something important during his final months in

office, and left Garfield's men unhampered in their management of the 1880 Re-

publican presidential campaign. Originally planned for the spring of 1879, the

Great Western Tour had to be postponed for more than a year because an extra

session of Congress required the President's presence in Washington.11 Hayes, how-

ever, kept in mind the idea of a grand tour as a good way of unifying the nation

and promoting pride in America's material progress and future potential. On June

18, 1880, he publicly announced his intention to make a Pacific trip. General William

T. Sherman, an old friend, familiar with the terrain to be traversed, laid out the

route and methods of travel, an assignment he dutifully performed knowing full

well he would have to defer to the President's whims instead of his own prefer-

ences on some details.12 Sherman received help from various army posts and com-

manders scattered throughout the West. Colonel John Jameson of the Railway

Mail Service supervised the day-to-day travel accommodations and kept the ac-

counts.13 Generally speaking, various railroads provided a director's car for the


9. Hayes Diary, November 28, 1879, Hayes Papers.

10. See James J. Garvey, "Rutherford B. Hayes: The Great Western Tour of 1880," (Loyola Uni-

versity, Chicago, Illinois, January 1966); and Gary Joseph Gonya, "Hayes and Unity (with a Trave-

logue of the Presidential Tour of 1880)," (St. Meinrad Seminary, May 1965), both unpublished man-

uscripts in Hayes Papers.

11. Hayes to W. D. Bickham, August 19, 1880, Hayes Papers.

12. W. T. Sherman to Marion De L. Adams, August 15, 1880, Sherman Papers, Rutherford B.

Hayes Library.

13. "His Excellency R. B. Hayes in Account with John Jameson, August 27 to November 6, 1880";

Hayes to F. J. Potter, August 21, 1880, both in Hayes Papers.


64                                                              OHIO HISTORY


President's comfort; the travelers stopped at military posts en route and used hotels

sparingly, receiving their overnight accommodations and hospitality as a courtesy

of army generals or well-known businessmen and public officials like Irvin McDowell

and Leland Stanford.

The size of the official party fluctuated throughout the journey but usually aver-

aged about nineteen. A limiting factor, especially restricting the number of women

in the party, was the necessity of using army field ambulances to cover some five

to six hundred miles of rough roads and desert country between railheads.14 As

finally constituted the official party consisted of President Hayes, Army Chief-of-

Staff William Tecumseh Sherman, and Secretary of War Alexander Ramsey,

together with members of their immediate families, personal friends, and staff

assistants. Hayes took his wife Lucy, two sons, Birchard and Rutherford, a favorite

niece, Laura (Mrs. John G. Mitchell), and two dear friends from Cincinnati, Mr.

and Mrs. John W. Herron. Isaiah Lancaster attended to the President's personal

needs, while Mrs. S. O. Hunt, a young matron of Oakland, California, who had

been staying in Washington, came along as a traveling guest of Mrs. Hayes.15

General Sherman brought his daughter Rachel, Mrs. Joseph Crain Audenried,

the recently widowed wife of his longtime military aide, and General Alexander

McDowell McCook, another of his aides. Secretary Ramsey's contingent included

his son-in-law, Charles E. Furness of Philadelphia, and his private secretary and

personal adviser, Colonel Thomas F. Barr of the War Department, who was ac-

companied by his wife Julia. Colonel Jameson and Dr. David Lowe Huntington,

an army surgeon from the Soldier's Home in Washington, completed the presi-

dential party.

Hayes attended his army reunion in Canton, Ohio, on September 1, 1880, and

then left for Chicago and a rendezvous with the rest of the official party, except

for Secretary Ramsey who joined them at Omaha. For the next two months the

travelers enjoyed an extraordinary journey of some ten thousand miles notable

for superb weather, grandiose scenery, good health, and freedom from accidents.16

About eighty cities lay along their route which they covered by train, stagecoach,

army ambulance, steamer, ferry boat, tug, yacht, and ocean vessel. On the way

West stops were made at Cheyenne, Salt Lake City, and Lake Tahoe, before the

party recuperated for twelve days in the San Francisco Bay area. From here the

road lay northward to Oregon and the Washington Territory, with exciting side

trips up the Columbia River to Walla Walla and around Puget Sound. Then they

embarked at Astoria for the return to San Francisco by ocean steamer. Time was

added for a side trip to Yosemite National Park after which the President boarded

the Southern Pacific Railway via Los Angeles and headed into the Southwest. Here

the Army prudently posted pickets and stationed several fresh relays of horses

for the hazardous two-day journey by field ambulances across the desert and hos-

tile Apache country. Arriving in Santa Fe on October 28, the President hastened

back to Ohio (skipping a planned stop in Denver), in order to reach Fremont just

in time to cast his vote for James A. Garfield on November 2. Mrs. Hunt appar-

ently left the tour upon reaching her home in California, and Birchard returned


14. Hayes to William Dean Howells, August 4, 1880, Hayes Papers.

15. Hayes Scrapbook, Vol. 78, p. 44, Hayes Papers. This volume of newspaper clippings and the

official Post Route Maps for the period, also in the Hayes Library, make it possible to reconstruct the

progress of the tour.

16. Hayes Diary, November 7, 1880, Hayes Papers.

home ahead of his parents. Colonel Jameson's account book shows total expendi-

tures of only $575.40 for the nine members of the President's immediate entourage.17

A pattern emerged during the first few days of the tour. Local Republican poli-

ticians would board the President's train to greet him personally and often to ride

along to the next stop. Wherever the train paused briefly, Hayes appeared and

spoke a few extempore words. Sherman and Ramsey usually followed with a few

felicitous remarks of their own, and then Mrs. Hayes and the other ladies would

be presented to the expectant crowd. After cannon, rifle, or whistle salutes, martial

music, frequently a band playing "Hail to the Chief" or "Marching Through

Georgia," completed the brief festivities.

In his informal way, Hayes used these whistle stops to personal and political

advantage, and he was actually better prepared than his casual manner suggested.

A memo written to himself reveals his thoughts on his preparation for the trip:

As I now see it congratulations on the condition and prospects of our Country will almost

always be appropriate. In order to make them of some interest let me gather facts as to

restored Union, sound financial condition, increase of exports of Agricultural & Manu-

facturing products--balance of trade and the like. In order to make the talks practically

useful, not merely vain boasting, let me trace the favorable conditions to the adoption of

sound principles, and warn the people of some of the evils existing which threaten our

future, such as clipped silver dollars--unredeemed government paper--a redundant currency,

popular illiteracy, sectional and race prejudices &c.&c.18

If possible the President avoided speechmaking on Sunday. To pass idle time

17. "Hayes in Account with Jameson," Hayes Papers.

18. Hayes Diary, August 19, 1880, Hayes Papers.


66                                                               OHIO HISTORY


on long stretches between stops, the group played guessing games or sang patrio-

tic and popular songs by the hour.19

Lieutenant Charles Rutherford Noyes, son of the President's cousin, Horatio

Noyes, stationed in 1880 near Cheyenne, Wyoming, decided to join the official

greeting party as his kinsman passed through the Territory. A diary kept by Noyes

is the only known account by a participant who described the Great Western Tour

in detail. "There were five cars in the train, one carrying the baggage, the second,

a C. B. & Q. dining car, the third, a C. B. & Q. director's car occupied by Sec-

retary of War, General Sherman, and the ladies of their party. The fourth, a Pull-

man sleeper occupied by General McCook and other gentlemen of the party, also

by Colonel and Mrs. Barr and Birchard and Rutherford Hayes. The fifth was the

Union Pacific Director's car occupied by the President and his party excluding

the boys."20

Young Noyes accompanied the tour as far as Salt Lake City. Shortly after the

train entered Utah, it stopped at the Emory station, and upon invitation from Rud,

Noyes ran forward to join a party of five on the locomotive's cowcatcher for an

exciting ride through Echo Canyon. At the same time, the President, Mrs. Hayes,

Dr. Huntington, and Mrs. Herron moved up to the engineer's cab. The following

description appears in the Noyes diary.

The ride was down hill all the way and for twenty or twenty five miles through a most

beautiful canyon with magnificent mountain scenery on both sides. The railroad followed

a small stream for several miles which finally flowed into the Weber River, and then the

Weber was followed down, At places the valley was wide enough to allow of fine wheat

fields, and the houses were quite numerous, probably all Mormon settlements as we were

by this time within the limits of Utah. One crop which we noticed and which covered quite

large fields, we afterwards learned was alfalfa or Lucerne. Its brilliant green color attracted

Mr. Herron's attention and no one knew at first what it was. It is said to make excellent

fodder for animals and three or four crops can be harvested in a year, giving as many as

nine tons to the acre. The wonderful rock formations on both sides of the track and the

high cliffs attracted our attention. We noted the Devil's slide, and the Devil's Gate, also

the one thousand mile tree, all of which we passed during this ride. The track crossed the

stream whose course it followed many times and twice plunged through short tunnels where

the very circuitous course of the stream could not be followed. On several occasions, as

we sped along, it appeared as though we were about to run full against a mountain side,

but just before reaching such places the track by a sudden turn curved through some nar-

row defile, and thus we passed from open glades to steep sided canyons, and back again

to open glades and thrifty farms. It was a most delightful ride, and at the end of twenty

five miles we returned to the train much pleased with our experience.21

At Salt Lake the Hayes brothers and Noyes took a one-hour excursion to Black

Rock for a swim in the famous salt water and then rejoined the main party for a

tour of Salt Lake City. On September 6, after spending a pleasant weekend in the

city, the tourists resumed their journey to California and Noyes returned to his

army post. Before parting, Noyes found time to win a rubber of cribbage with Miss

Sherman and bid goodbye to each of the passengers. He also wrote a vivid de-

scription of the President's accommodations: "Upon arriving at Ogden [the junction

for the Far West] the party changed cars to Central Pacific sleeping cars, and the


19. Gonya, "Hayes and Unity," 42, 46; Garvey, "Great Western Tour," 40.

20. Extract from "Diary of Charles R. Noyes," 2, typed copy in Rutherford B. Hayes Library.

21. Ibid., 10-11.

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Travels of R. B. Hayes                                                        67


director's car of the Central Pacific was in readiness for the President. This was

the finest car which I think I ever saw, its upholstery was of the richest, and all

its appointments complete."22

On September 8 the presidential party crossed the Sierra Nevada Range at

beautiful Lake Tahoe and reached San Francisco the following day. After many

receptions and some sight-seeing in the Bay area, the Hayes caravan headed for

Oregon by way of Sacramento where the President delivered one of the few pre-

pared and longer speeches of his tour, one which sounded his basic theme of

nationalism and unity, the principal purpose of his long journey. He observed:


We have learned something of California. . . . You have a double advantage--the advan-

tage of a climate which gives you the productions of fruit and flowers of semi-tropical

regions, and at the same time it seems that you have a clear, bracing air at night which

restores the vigor again, and gives you the advantage of the best climate of the temperate

zone. . . . No man can doubt, . . . that here is a soil fit to feed the millions of the earth.

. . . Wherever we go we see such provision for education as insures the prosperity of the

country. Here people will gather from every known land, and by a process peculiar to the

American school-house, be fused into one harmonious whole. . . . What is to be the future

of this beautiful land? . . . In my judgment, there is no equal of people anywhere in the

United States having such advantages and opportunities to do great service to the nation

and mankind as the million or million and a half of people inhabiting what are known as

the Pacific States and Territories of the United States. You occupy seventeen degrees of

latitude on the Pacific Ocean. . . . You have your mines of inexhaustible wealth, and your

commerce; you have the capacity for a population not less than that of our whole country

at the present time; fifty millions can live upon this stretch of territory. . . . I am glad

to meet you in California, and I say to you that we are looking to you as the vanguard

of progress. As civilization advances we have generally moved to the westward. You have

got to the end of the march. You have reached the margin, and now it is for you--and I

believe you may safely be trusted with that destiny--to see that in the future, as in the past,

American institutions and the American name shall lose nothing at your hands.23

From the California capital the Oregon division of the Central Pacific carried

the visitors to its terminus at Redding. Here the presidential party divided into

three contingents. One went directly to Portland by sea, while a second section

journeyed by regular day and night stage to Roseburg, Oregon. The third group

comprised of the President and First Lady, the John Herrons, Mrs. Mitchell, Dr.

Huntington, and Colonel Jameson (with General Sherman riding "shotgun" on

the box beside the driver!), traveled by a special stagecoach, drawn by six large

and handsome horses, matched grays, and stopped each night on its way to

Roseburg, 275 miles distant.24 Sherman had advised this six-day trek by daylight

in order to permit the President to see the magnificent scenery and to experience

the wild and exciting drive along the narrow and precipitous road from Ashland

to Sevens, Oregon, as well as to observe a government fish hatchery and the local

color of several old mining camps along the way.25

On the night of September 27, the presidential stage halted in Jacksonville,

Oregon, a small frontier mining town of one thousand population. Madam de


22. Ibid., 20.

23. Hayes Scrapbook, Hayes Papers, 106, 114-115.

24. Gonya, "Hayes and Unity," 41-42.

25. Sherman to Hayes, August 20, 1880, Hayes Papers; Gen. Irvin McDowell to Sherman, August

13, 1880, with attached notations of Lt. Hoyle, Sherman Papers, copy in Rutherford B. Hayes Library.

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Travels of R. B. Hayes                                                         69


Robaum's boarding house afforded them overnight accommodations. But next morn-

ing the big Frenchwoman, unlike other proprietors who had entertained the Presi-

dent without charge just to gain the added prestige, presented her guests with an

exhorbitant bill amounting to one hundred dollars! In the embarrassing circum-

stances, John Herron, the President's former law partner, saved the day. He in-

formed the proprietress that the party had no intention of buying her hotel, handed

her twenty-five dollars, and bid adieu. Before the flabbergasted woman could pro-

test further, the stage was gone.26

At Roseburg the Portland special of the Oregon and California Railroad took

the travelers by nightfall to the northern border of the state. Several relaxing days

were spent in Portland with excursions to nearby points. The most interesting of

these side trips was a journey to the Government Indian School at Forest Grove

where Hayes delivered a particularly stirring speech:

I think it is the wish and prayer of every good citizen that these Indian boys and girls

should become wise, useful, and good citizens. Some people seem to think that God has

decreed that Indians should die off like wild animals. With this we have nothing to do.

If they are to become extinct we ought to leave that to Providence, and we, as good pa-

triotic, Christian people, should do our best to improve their physical, mental, and moral

condition. We should prepare them to become part of the great American family. If it turns

out that their destiny is to be different, we shall have at least done our duty. This country

was once theirs. They owned it as much as you own your farms. We have displaced them,

and are now completing that work. I am glad that Oregon has taken a step in the right

direction. I am glad that she is preparing Indian boys and girls to become good, law-

abiding citizens.27

Going from Portland to Vancouver, the Hayes party spent Sunday with the area

military commander, General O. O. Howard. On Monday October 4 (the Presi-

dent's fifty-eighth birthday), the party ascended the Columbia River, using three

steamers and two special trains to penetrate as far as Walla Walla in the Wash-

ington territory. On the afternoon of October 6, 1880, the return journey down the

Columbia River began, after the travelers had witnessed at the military post one

of the most novel and dramatic episodes of the entire trip, a wild one-hour war

dance presented by about fifty Umatilla Indians.28

Several more pleasant days were passed visiting Kalama, Olympia, Tacoma,

and finally Seattle where the President made perhaps his most spectacular en-

trance to any city on the tour. Laura Mitchell, a gifted letter writer, graphically

described this part of the journey for her little cousins back home in Fremont:

We had a whole week of beauty and delight on Puget Sound following its blue inlets in

and out among the many islands and around the rugged fir-hung promontories or gently

sloping shores. The Olympic Range seemed attending us in the blue distance, and Mt.

Rainer rose in the sky, a snow-crowned shrine for our admiring worship, from time to

time. As we drew near Seattle, a fleet of seven vessels--the flag-strung revenue cutter and




26. See Anne Holm Pogue, "Madam De Robaum's Unsettled Claim-1880," in Helen Krebs Smith,

ed., With Her Own Wings (Portland, 1948), 142-144. In fairness it should be stated that Madam De

Robaum was an excellent cook and had gone to considerable extra expense to entertain her distin-

guished guests. A new Brussels carpet was placed in the bedroom occupied by the Hayes, a picture

was painted for the dining room, and many food delicacies were imported from distant points.

27. Chicago Tribune, October 3, 1880; Hayes Scrapbook, Vol. 78, p. 127, Hayes Papers.

28. Ibid., 124.


70                                                                 OHIO HISTORY


big and little steamboats, came to meet us, first circled round us, and ranging themselves

on either hand escorted us into port.29


Returning to Oregon the presidential party embarked at Astoria aboard the

Columbia for a calm three-day weekend ocean voyage to San Francisco. "The

sea is smooth, almost nobody sick--certainly none of our party," Hayes informed

his daughter, Fanny. Laura, as usual, was more picturesque:

Your Mama wishes me to tell you what a superb sailor she has grown. For twenty-four

hours we have been on the ocean, and she sings, and talks, and laughs like the jolliest

Jack Tar of them all. To be sure, the ocean seems holding its breath, or rising and falling

with the gentlest sighs so that we are asailing over it, and proud that we are able bodied

people, though a hypochondriac could hardly imagine himself seasick on this serene sea

and in this smooth-going steamer. . . . . We saw a pair of whales, yesterday, tossing up their

sun-lit spray quite near our steamer. . . . To be a whale and spout must be the next best

happiness to being a little boy and blowing bubbles.30

The party docked at San Francisco early Monday morning, October 18, and

made their way to the Palace Hotel, then probably the finest hostelry in all of

America. From here they entrained to Madera where they mounted a six-horse

coach of the Yosemite Stage Line for a delightful excursion through the big tree

valley. A historic photograph of the presidential party, made against the backdrop

of Yosemite Falls, was taken in the valley on October 21, 1880. By Friday they

were back in Madera and ready to travel farther south by train to Los Angeles,

where General Sherman who had temporarily left the group, rejoined them. Here

quick visits were paid to the orange groves, the agricultural fair, the new University

of Southern California campus, and Pasadena's vineyards, until they departed for

Mission San Gabriel where they boarded a Southern Pacific train to Arizona

and New Mexico.31 A stop was made in Tucson for a military parade and public

reception. General Wilcox and his staff then joined them for the trip to the end

of the railroad at Shakespeare Ranch, New Mexico, where they arrived on Monday

morning, October 25.32 Garvey has described this trip as follows:


From this point wagons carried them to Fort Cummings, a very dangerous journey con-

sidering threats from Apache raiders and wild bands of Cowboys from the notorious San

Simon region; but Wilcox, avoiding any undue alarm to his charges, ordered a heavy

military guard and increased picketing along the route, and hurried them along to Cow

Springs and on to the Memembres River before rolling into the fort--covering sixty-four

miles in eleven hours.33

At dawn they left Fort Cummings by army ambulance and wagons, for Palomas,

sixty miles away, and camped there overnight. On Wednesday the caravan covered

another twenty-eight miles up the Rio Grande River near Fort McRea, and then

a final twenty miles to the railhead, where an Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe special



29. Laura Platt Mitchell to Fanny and Scott Hayes, October 17, 1880, Hayes Papers.

30. Hayes to Fanny Hayes, October 17, 1880, and Laura Mitchell to Fanny and Scott Hayes,

October 17, 1880, Hayes Papers.

31. John E. Baur, "A President Visits Los Angeles: Rutherford B. Hayes' Tour of 1880," The

Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly, XXXVII (March 1955), 33-47.

32. The return journey is not documented as well as the rest of the trip. Garvey, "The Great

Western Tour," 50-55, is the best account.

33. Ibid., 53.

waited to take them the final two hundred miles to Santa Fe. On Thursday morn-

ing, about ten o'clock, the presidential train pulled into Santa Fe, and the rest of

that day and evening the travelers witnessed a great celebration culminating in an

evening concert and fiesta. From Santa Fe their special train headed northeast,

reaching Kansas early Saturday, October 30. At Dodge City, Hayes wired Gar-

field in Mentor, Ohio: "We have had a most delightful and instructive trip."34

In Kansas City the tour party broke up. Secretary Ramsey made a connection

for St. Paul; the Shermans continued on to St. Louis; and the Hayes contingent

boarded a Wabash express for Toledo via Hannibal, Missouri. In the wee hours of

the morning, Monday, November 1, 1880, a carriage bearing President and Mrs.

Hayes, together with their son Rud, drove up the winding path to their house at

Spiegel Grove. The Great Western Tour, the longest journey ever undertaken by

a Chief Executive up to that time, was over.

34. Hayes to Garfield, October 30, 1880, Hayes Papers.


72                                                                OHIO HISTORY


Back in the White House by Sunday, November 7, 1880, Hayes penned a modest

one-paragraph resume of his odyssey; the only reference to the event in his entire


We left W [ashington] on our Pacific tour Thursday evening 26th August and returned Sat-

urday morning after an absence of Seventy one days. Our trip was most fortunate in all of

its circumstances. Superb weather, good health and no accidents. A most gratifying recep-

tion greeted us everywhere from the people and from noted and interesting individuals.35

What pleased the President most, however, was Garfield's victory at the polls

along with Republican gains in the House and the Senate. To Hayes, the presi-

dential election of November 2, 1880, while disappointing in the loss of Nevada

and California to the Democrats, was a personal victory since his administration

was vindicated by the people's vote of confidence. The Republicans were main-

tained in power despite a four-year effort by discontented politicians of both parties

to discredit him personally and to brand his administration a fraud and a failure.

Courageous and determined in manner, confident in the ultimate success of his

postwar pacification policy, Rutherford B. Hayes effectively promoted national

unity and pride by his frequent presidential tours and won the poet's tribute as

a "Healer of Strife."

Look in our eyes! Your welcome waits you there--

North. South, East, West, from all and everywhere!36


35. Hayes Diary, November 7, 1880, Hayes Papers. Because of the length of the tour there are no

entries for the months of September and October.

36. "To R. B. H." by Oliver Wendell Holmes, June 26, 1877.