Hayes had been baptized a Presbyterian, but his interest was in the new secular religion, then the rage in some circles, transcendentalism. The movement had been launched by the secular preacher-poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau. This was the birth of the genuinely secular pulpit and the movement was gaining traction. Further, they had a silent admirer in the White House. Lucy Hayes, however, was a staunch Christian. When she learned that the inauguration was to be held on Sunday – a day to be used only for the spiritual – she objected. The holy day should not be intruded upon even for such a stately occasion as the Inauguration. She prevailed. The event was rescheduled for the Saturday before.
Lucy became a crusader. She joined the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Branded as ‘Lemonade Lucy,’ she forbade alcohol at the Executive Mansion. She spurned typical social events and conducted prayer services and sing-alongs. On Sunday evenings, she would invite the Cabinet, the Congress and their families to the White House of religious services – the first ever of their kind.
As reconstruction came slowly to an end under his administration, Hayes would confide in a friend, near the time of his 1877 inaugural address, “The mystery of our existence – I have no faith in any attempted explanation of it. It is all a dark, unfathomed profound.” He had lost his soul in Transcendentalism. He had remained superficially a Christian, but the principles of the faith were lost on him. His six national prayer proclamations in four years, a record in peace-time, are sadly, no indication of his true faith.
The salvation of both Grant and Hayes was the faith of their wives. The nation was changing. Under Hayes, the population reached forty-million. The transcendentalist rejoiced:
Organizations are splitting asunder, institutions are falling into decay, customs are becoming uncustomary, usages are perishing from neglect, sacraments are decried by the multitudes, creeds are decomposing under the action of liberal studies and independent thought.
James Garfield became President in 1881. He was a member of the Disciples of Christ, and became a preacher – the only President to do so. He had organized prayer gatherings all over Ohio. He emphasized the need to pray – to a loving God. He scorned the idea of prayer rooted in fear to an angry God. Even while he served the State Senate in Ohio, he continued his Christian activity. He served seventeen years in Congress. When he learned of the assassination of Lincoln, he heard simultaneously that a crowd of fifty-thousand was amassing on Wall Street and planned to ferret out southerners in the city and lynch them. When Garfield reached the area, the crowd was already growing angry and restless. Using the balcony of the Customs House, and waving an American flag, he captured the attention of the crowd. It was a moment made for a preacher.
Fellow citizens! Clouds and darkness are around Him! His pavilion is dark waters and thick clouds of the skies! Justice and judgment are the establishment of His throne! Mercy and truth go before His face! Fellow citizens! God reigns, and the Government of Washington still lives!
Newspaper reporters spread the account across the nation, and the nation never forgot how one man bravely stopped a massacre that would have further wounded the nation. Garfield would only spend four months in office. He was assassinated, ironically with Todd Lincoln looking on helplessly. His assassin was a frustrated young man who had not been able to obtain government employment and took revenge on the President. He lingered for two months, praying often – aloud. All during his battle with life, his wife was herself convalescing in New Jersey. When she did arrive, she fell to her knees in prayer beside him and within minutes he expired.
This teaching will be included in the upcoming The Praying Church Handbook – Volume IV – Intercessory Prayer and Missions.
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 Moore, 191.
 Diary and Letters of Rutherford Hayes (Columbus: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1922-1926), 1:326-327.
 Ibid, 5:143.
 Five million, one-in-eight was African-American. 2.5 million were recent European immigrants. Moore, 191.
 Anne C. Rose, Victorian America and the Civil War (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 17.
 Alan Peskin, Garfield (Norwalk, Connecticut: Easton Press, 1978), 250.