The Time Capsule | Roy Marshall

Last November, I thought about not voting at all. I couldn’t bring myself to make the mark for Hillary, Trump, Johnson or Stein, but there were other candidates and issues deserving of support, so I went. My intent was to leave the presidential section blank, and I filled out the ballot accordingly. Before feeding it to the machine I wrote, on an impulse, “Tucker” on the line below the presidential nominees. Tucker is our little Bichon. 

I knew this was frivolous; it was also a mistake. Tucker was not a good choice. He barks at nothing, chases the cat, must be on a leash while in public places. He gets so excited upon meeting a stranger that he occasionally pees on their shoe. Tucker is not the sort to have his paw on the nuclear button.

Elections are serious business. If I was going to do a write-in, it should have been thoughtful and named the sort of person who belonged in the White House. I could have voted to bring back Rutherford B. Hayes.

Hayes took on problems reminiscent of today’s. He did not win the official popular vote (there was so much fraud no one knows for sure who did). Democrats accused him of being an illegitimate president, the media called him “His Fraudulency,” and race relations were not good. Hayes set out to “drain the swamp,” initiating a policy of filling federal jobs through merit rather than political rewards and cronyism, and in so doing incurred the wrath of a major portion of Washington Republicans. He had border issues with Mexico, a bad economy, and struggled to deal with inefficiency and scandals in certain government agencies.

Hayes is not high on the lists of presidential rankings. He might have rated better had he focused on his personal legacy, but he didn’t. He restored integrity to an office that suffered after Lincoln’s death. He withdrew federal troops that supported Republican governments in southern states, favored the gold standard, and strived for equality and improved civil rights for everyone while being wary of preferential treatment for anyone. 

Hayes never scrubbed an email account or behaved in public like a spoiled child. His college grades were released, showing him to be valedictorian. He had his share of lady friends, but once married was a loyal husband who did not, as far as we know, philander or boast about groping women. Hayes was wounded five different times during the Civil War – and if he said he was shot at by snipers, it was true. He was still serving with The Army of the Shenandoah when, in 1864, he was nominated for a seat in the House of Representatives. Hayes refused to campaign, writing that anyone who left a wartime military post to electioneer was not worthy of office. He married Lucy Webb, a strict Methodist teetotaler. She believed strongly in God and high moral standards, and Rutherford had the good sense to listen to her. Neither wine nor any other liquor was permitted in the White House while Rutherford and “Lemonade Lucy” Hayes were in control, a stance that frosted the press, lobbyists, and a good many members of both parties. 

Rutherford Hayes promised to do what he could in one term and go home, and he did. Although historians generally do not consider him to have been a particularly good president, Hayes was honorable, sincere, sensible, had the experience to be a good match for today’s problems – and could be trusted to do one term and get out of Washington. 


Roy Marshall is a local historian and columnist for the Red Oak Express. He can be contacted at

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