That Total Hottie, Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford "Babe" Hayes is more like it.

Mandy Shunnarah
The hottie in question, Rutherford B. Hayes

A Google search for “young Rutherford B. Hayes” yields a surprising daguerreotype: a devastatingly handsome Hayes in the 1840s, when he was in his early 20s. Ohio’s homegrown 19th president’s smoldering eyes, swath of wavy hair, dapper suit and hint of a grin have been making the rounds online—with good reason. That middle initial should stand for “Babe.”

“People are surprised by his good looks because they’ve most often seen Rutherford in his presidential years,” says Christie M. Weininger, executive director of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums.

But the picture wasn’t intended as a Victorian thirst trap. “Rutherford liked to walk a straight and narrow path,” Weininger says.

While Hayes was boisterous and enjoyed socializing, he wasn’t a ladies’ man. He married Lucy Webb at 30 and remained a steadfast husband. But that hasn’t discouraged admirers from eyeing the 180-year-old daguerreotype—or from purchasing a candle in his likeness.

It’s unclear whether they’ll snap up the new Hayes bobblehead from the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, as it portrays him in his later, hairier years.

Megan Wood, director of the Cultural Resources Division of Ohio History Connection, says he didn’t actually change that much. “If he had more manscaping and a hipster vest, he may still have been a hottie when he was older,” she says.

This story is from the April 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.