Hayes: "Silver Dick" Bland

Got your attention, didn't I?

This has to be one of the funniest name for any figure in American history. This even surpasses "Old Fuss N' Feathers" (Gen. Winfield Scott), "Ten Cents a day Jimmy" (Buchanan) and even "Queen Victoria in Riding Breeches" (Hayes).

Ol' Silver Dick was a Congressman who wanted to help silver miners and 'the common man' after the United States went on a gold standard in 1873. This declared that the only metal that US Dollars could be redeemed for was gold.

While this helped to bring the United States in line with the rest of the world in terms of the stability of its currency, it decimated the silver mining industry and the miners and other people that owned large amounts of silver coins. It also contracted the money supply, effectively making it more expensive for farmers and small business owners to repay their debts.

While "Silver Dick" Bland and many in congress were for having both a gold and silver standard, Hayes was squarely on the side of one gold standard since he rightly assumed that adding to the money supply would cause inflation and be harmful to contracts negotiated on the basis of the gold standard. By around the turn of the twentieth century, Hayes would get his way, but America had a two metal standard for the next 25 years or so.

Now isn't this whole economics lesson more interesting when there's a guy named "Silver Dick"?


Ohio: The Crucible of Mediocre Presidents

Just as in it's desire for quantity over quality in food, so it seems my fellow Ohioans have a similar outlook on presidents.

Like so many inoffensive, cheese covered dishes that are pumped out of the upscale casual chain restaurants that dot Ohio's landscape, it was doing the same with presidents during the 1800's and early 20th century.

Rutherford B. Hayes was perhaps the most average among the average company of his state's presidents. He stood in the middle of a line up that includes William Henry Harrison, Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Howard "The fat man that got stuck in a bathtub" Taft.

It's ironic that Ohioans occupy a full half of the list of assassinated presidents, with both Garfield and Harrison having been killed in office. The other two, JFK and Abraham Lincoln were certainly more controversial figures in their time, both serving during war times and periods of great internal conflict.

Love them or hate them, or more likely feel ambivalent about them, no one can deny that the state of Ohio put together a pretty impressive line up of leading citizens, at least based on quantity.