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Exhibit highlights Hayes’ career as Ohio man

Tom Jackson • Dec 19, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Rutherford B. Hayes is best known as the 19th president of the United States (1877-1881), but aside from that, he played abig role in Ohio’s history.

   Before he was elected president, Hayes was a two-term Republican governor of Ohio. He fought for equal rights for blacks and worked successfully to establish a land-grant college in the state.

   Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College began classes with 24 total students in September 1873.    In 1878, when its first class of six men graduated, it changed its name to “The Ohio State University”

   Hayes’ public career in Ohio — he was a governor, a Civil War general and a congressman

   — is the focus of a new exhibit at the Rutherford

   B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, “Rutherford B. Hayes: Buckeye President”

   “One of the aspects I find so intriguing about Hayes is his commitment to education,” said Christie Weininger, executive director of the Hayes Center. “He absolutely thought that education could solve all of society’s problems. We hadn’t really done anything on that aspect of him and his values”

   In fact, the original exhibit appeared on the OSU campus.

   “When he was governor of Ohio, he was really committed to having a state university,” Weininger said. “He worked with the legislature to make sure that happened”

   Much of the exhibit focuses on Hayes as an educator and student. Teachers in Norwalk can tell their kids that if they study hard, they might become president. Hayes was a good student when he attended Norwalk Seminary.

   The exhibit also features a replica of a 19th-century one-room schoolhouse. The Hayes Center’s new education coordinator, Ashley Wyatt, helped put that part of the exhibit together.

   The docents who lead tours of schoolkids through the museum have been showing them the schoolhouse, Wyatt said.

   “All of them have been highlighting that one-room schoolhouse, to give the students an idea of what it would have been like to go to school when Rutherford B. Hayes was a small child” Wyatt said.

   The exhibit will be on display through April 13. It will be replaced in the rotating exhibit gallery by a new exhibit on the Civil War prisoner of war camp on Johnson’s Island, Weininger said.

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