Saturday, October 22, 2011

Could You Pick Rutherford B. Hayes Out in a Lineup?

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

I am sad to say, that unless the lineup looked something like the picture above, most people would be taking a shot in the dark. Why? Is it because Hayes and his contemporaries all sported beards? Or is something more ominous at work?

Months ago I posted a question concerning Americans' lack of historical consciousness. My conclusions were that most do not grasp "history" beyond the immediate past. With this being my general attitude, I arrived at a conversation with my wife a few days ago. Coni - who admittedly answers "Grover Cleveland" to nearly all historical inquiries, suggested that most people could not pick Rutherford Hayes out in a lineup unless said lineup also contained the above...more culturally relevant people (and frogs).

Where has the history gone? I mean....Hayes is a pretty interesting guy (more so than Bret Micheals - I think). But he is sort of lost in a sea of bearded guys who did some stuff during a big war and then went on to be president or something.

Am I being too hasty in my judgement of the American people in general? Maybe I should post the lineup below on all the usual social media sites and see how well people do.

Bon chance!



  1. I was at a friend's house for Passover a few years ago and he commented that he wished he had as much time to read about American history as I did, but that he was too busy. He son turned to him and said "Dad, I'm not sure watching 3 hours a night of reality television is the same as being busy."

    My advice to him was, start small, substitute an hour of serious reading each week for an hour of TV.

  2. My concern is that with everyone pushing math and science as the way of the future, that humanities in general and history in particular will continue to get shortchanged. When I teach I remind students always that history is more than just facts, it is about how they feel and interpret and relate to those facts and how their understanding reflects our bigger social picture. OR how that big picture could change because of their understanding of -whatever, because we are all on the historical continuum.

    Not to slag on math and science! But the disciplines that teach us about human nature are equally if not more valuable ☺

  3. That's him, the one on the left! He's the one who became President in the wake of the Compromise of 1877!! I'd recognize him anywhere! :)

  4. Which is why I am glad my department is in the College of Social Sciences at Directionally Challenged Liberal Hotbed State...

    I'll make my ignorance clear - Hayes, Stanton, Longstreet, and Hayes from his good side?

  5. Ha - almost...the guy on the far right is Benjamin Harrison. Thanks for playing :)

  6. Okay, that's just spooky - they look like brothers.

    Was Hayes or Harrison the evil twin?

  7. I'm not sure which was the evil one....but they could be twins for sure. Separated at birth, perhaps?

  8. Here, Here Pat Young! Brilliant comment. I am a history major at university with a love for 1865-1920 American history. I had a friend say the same excuse about not having time. I said maybe a few less hours watching the tube and reading Scandinavian mystery novels. She gave me quite a dirty look AND she has a BS and a JD! Smart people get sucked into the pop culture vortex too.