NAME: Rutherford Birchard Hayes. He was named after his father, Rutherford Hayes, and his mother, Sophia Birchard.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: A robust, broad-shouldered, handsome figure, Hayes stood 5 feet 8.5 inches tall and usually weighed 170-180 pounds. He had a large head with a high forehead, deeply set blue eyes, a straight nose, firm lips, and sound, straight teeth. The auburn hair of his youth turned a dark brown and then white. From his service in the Civil War until his death, he wore a full beard. His health generally was sound. He dressed simply, often in ill-fitting clothes.
PERSONALITY: “Hayes was never a solitary, a boy of moods,” wrote biographer H.J. Eckenrode. “He had no seasons of exaltation followed by depression… All his life he liked society and shone in it in a modest way – not sparkling, not brilliant, but pleasing, satisfying. He had a gift of friendship and most of those he loved in youth he loved in age.” As a young man, however, Hayes went through a period of great inner tension, which he himself attributed to a fear that he would one day lose his mind, as some relatives, on both sides of his family, had done. Overcoming this fear, he matured into a relaxed, easy-going fellow, a good conversationalist, and a keen observer of human nature. He genuinely loved people and was interested in their thoughts and problems. When travelling by train, he invariably sat in the smoking car, eager to strike up a conversation. He had a remarkable memory for the names and faces of the most casual acquaintances. As a politician he respected the opposition and welcomed constructive criticism. Although not regarded as a great orator in his day, he delivered well-planned, reasoned, addresses in a clear, pleasant voice.
PRIMARY SOURCE: DeGregorio, William A. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. 7th ed. Fort Lee: Barricade Books, 2009.
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