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Lucy Ware Webb Hayes (August 28, 1831–June 25, 1889) was the First Lady of the United States and the wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes. While First Lady, she was given the moniker "Lemonade Lucy".

Born in Chillicothe, Ohiomarker, the daughter of James Webb, a physician, and Maria Cook-Webb, Lucy was descended from seven veterans of the American Revolution. Her father died when she was an infant. With her mother, she moved to Delaware, Ohiomarker, where in 1847 she met Rutherford B. Hayes. Later that year, she enrolled at Wesleyan Women’s College (now Ohio Wesleyan Universitymarker) in Delaware (class of 1850); she was the first First Lady to have graduated from college. Hayes was by this time practicing law in Cincinnati, and the two began dating seriously. He proposed in June 1851.

Rutherford Hayes, aged 30, married Lucy Webb, aged 21, on December 30, 1852, at the home of the bride’s mother in Cincinnati, Ohiomarker. After the wedding, performed by Dr. L.D. McCabe of Delaware, the couple honeymooned at the home of the groom’s sister and brother-in-law in Columbus, Ohiomarker.

The Hayes had four sons and a daughter to live to maturity:
  • Sardis “Birchard Austin” Birchard Hayes (1853-1926) - lawyer. Born in Cincinnati, he graduated from Cornell Universitymarker (1874) and Harvard Law Schoolmarker (1877). He settled in Toledo, Ohiomarker, where he prospered as a real estate and tax attorney.
  • James “Webb" Cook” Webb Hayes (1856-1934) - businessman, soldier. Born in Cincinnati, he followed his brother to Cornell and on graduation became presidential secretary to his father. He later helped found a small business that eventually grew into Union Carbide. During the Spanish-American War, he was commissioned a major and served in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.
  • Rutherford Platt Hayes (1858-1931) - library official. Born in Cincinnati, he attended the University of Michiganmarker, graduated from Cornell University (1880), and did post-graduate work at Boston Institute of Technology. He worked as a bank clerk in Fremont, Ohiomarker, for a time but devoted his life to promoting libraries. He also helped develop Asheville, North Carolinamarker, into a health and tourist resort.
  • Joseph Thompson Hayes (1861-1863).
  • George Crook Hayes (1864-1866).
  • Frances “Fanny” Hayes-Smith (1867-1950). Born in Cincinnati, she was educated at a private girls’ school in Farmington, Connecticutmarker. In 1897, she married Ensign Harry Eaton Smith of Fremont, Ohio, later an instructor at the U.S.marker Naval Academymarker.
  • Scott Russell Hayes (1871-1923) - businessman. Born in Cincinnati, he was still a youngster during his father’s presidency. At six he and his sister played host to other Washington area children in the first Easter egg roll conducted on the White House lawn. He was an executive with railroad service companies in New York Citymarker.
  • Manning Force Hayes (1873-1874).


A vigorous opponent of slavery, Hayes contributed to her husband’s decision to abandon the Whigs for the antislavery Republican Party. During the American Civil War, she visited Hayes often in the field. While her husband was governor of Ohio, she helped establish the state Home for Soldiers’ Orphans at Xenia.

As First Lady, Hayes brought her zeal for temperance to the White House. She banned all alcoholic beverages at state functions, excepting only the reception for Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia in 1877, at which wine was served. Detractors dubbed her “Lemonade Lucy” ; the Women's Christian Temperance Union hailed her policy and in gratitude commissioned a full-length portrait of her, which now hangs in the White House. She also instituted the custom of conducting an Easter egg roll on the White House lawn. A devout Methodist, she joined the president in saying prayers after breakfast and conducting group hymn sings with the cabinet and congressmen on Sunday evenings.

Rutherford and Lucy Hayes on their wedding day.
The social highlight of the Hayes years was their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary celebration, at which the president and First Lady repeated their vows at a White House ceremony before many of the same guests who had attended the original nuptials in Cincinnati.

In 1881 she retired with the president to Spiegel Grovemarker in Fremont, Ohiomarker. She died of a stroke on June 25, 1889, and was buried at Spiegel Grove. Upon her death, flags across the United States were lowered to half-staff in honor of the “most idolized woman in America.”

Fictional depictions

In Leonard Bernstein’s musical comedy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the First Lady sings the “Duet for One,” in which she transforms from Mrs. Grant into Lucy Webb Hayes.

In the Lucky Luke comic book Sarah Bernhardt, which is set in the late 19th-century Wild West, President Rutherford B. Hayes’ wife is portrayed as being one of many who strongly disapproves of the titular actress' tour of the United States, given her reputation for loose morality. Disguised as a man called “George,” the First Lady infiltrates Sarah’s entourage and sabotages their tour throughout the US, though she does come to accept Sarah when the French actress’ charms and singing talent moves a tribe of hostile Indians. ‘The president’s wife’ is not mentioned by name in the book, and thus might be regarded as fictional, although she and her husband do resemble Rutherford and Lucy Hayes in many ways. Hayes himself is portrayed as a man who is very abback by his wife's hostility towards Sarah, and keeps making the same speech over and over again, even when there is no one there to listen to him.

External links



Lucy’s official White House portrait



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