HLS and the Presidency

He graduated from Harvard Law School. He ascended to the Presidency of the United States. People said he had a funny name.

I am referring, of course, to Rutherford Birchard Hayes, who attended HLS from 1843-1845 and won the controversial election of 1876 to become the nation’s 19th President.

In Russell H. Conwell’s 1876 biography of Hayes, Conwell summed up the then-candidate’s HLS experience by writing, “Those two years must have been dull years to him, unless, as is possible, he was so absorbed in contracts, torts, evidence, pleadings, crimes, and equity jurisprudence, and in the large libraries of books bearing upon the practice of law, that he did not notice the slow flight of time.” The more things change… 🙂

Speaking of large libraries, Langdell Hall has an impressive portrait of Hayes, painted by William Merritt Chase, that hangs between the columns in the Northeast quadrant of the Reading Room. The description that accompanies the portrait states that Hayes is “the only graduate of the Harvard Law School to become President of the United States.” I guess we need to update that pretty soon.

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