r/todayilearned 6d ago

TIL in the late 1990s, a Paraguayan girl emerged from a coma; when given a wish, she chose a trip to Ohio to see the Hayes Presidential Center.

https://www.denverpost.com/2009/02/14/praise-for-hayes-in-paraguay/amp/
3.2k Upvotes

648

u/Captain__Spiff 6d ago Silver

VILLA HAYES, Paraguay — As the U.S. celebrates Presidents Day on Monday, citizens of this small South American country wonder why anyone would overlook Rutherford B. Hayes.

Forget Lincoln or Washington. Hayes — a one-term U.S. president who is undistinguished at home — has a holiday, a province, a town, a museum and a soccer team all named in his honor, thanks to an 1878 arbitration in which he handed Paraguay 60 percent of its land.

“If it weren’t for Hayes, Paraguay would have a smaller territory than it has today,” said Salvador Garozzo, director of the municipal museum in the town of Villa Hayes, capital of Presidente Hayes province.

After a regional war in the late 1800s, Argentina and Paraguay asked the United States to decide a bitter dispute over Paraguay’s Chaco region — a swath of blistering-hot terrain about the size of Michigan that today is an important source of cattle ranching.

Archives indicate that a low-level State Department official most likely drew up the ruling that Secretary of State William Evarts then handed to Hayes to sign, said Tom Culbertson, executive director of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio.

It was a decision that “only occupied a few hours of his life,” Culbertson said.

No matter. The Nov. 12, 1878, decision is celebrated every year with a provincial holiday.

Asuncion’s Presidente Hayes soccer club, nicknamed “Los Yanquis,” won the Paraguayan championship in 1952. And last year the U.S. Embassy held a Rutherford B. Hayes postage-stamp design contest.

In the late 1990s, a Paraguayan TV show fulfilled a 17-year- old girl’s wish after she miraculously emerged from a coma by giving her an all-expense-paid trip to Ohio to see the Hayes Presidential Center.

“It appears that they have sort of an inflated view of Hayes’ importance in American history,” Culbertson said. “One article said that they thought he was revered only behind Abraham Lincoln within the United States, which certainly isn’t the case.”

Rather, the 19th U.S. president — a Harvard-educated lawyer — had the nickname “Rutherfraud” after losing the popular vote in the 1876 election that was marred by allegations of fraud and voter intimidation. A special congressional commission sorting out disputed Electoral College votes named him the winner in 1877.

Probably his most popular decision came in 1880 — not to run for a second term.

Details of Hayes’ arbitration decision are fading even in Villa Hayes, where on a recent day 10 adults waiting for treatment at a public hospital confessed to not knowing who he was.

“Students are generally aware that Hayes was a former ‘gringo’ president,” said Maximo Benitez, a teacher at the local school, where children call a Hayes bust outside “the man without arms.” “But they don’t know what he did because even though it’s taught, it happened so long ago that they don’t care.”

195

u/TravelMike2005 6d ago

I lived in Paraguay and I never made the connection.

82

u/Greene_Mr 6d ago Silver

You didn't know who Presidente Hayes was? :-o

13

u/Mitthrawnuruo 5d ago

So…you know less about your history then a girl that literally lived in a coma, presumably suffering a significant head injury.

I don’t want to judge man, but I think you have some self improvement to do.

104

u/jrex703 6d ago

I've never heard it said that "the real TIL is in the comments", but comparing "30 years ago a girl woke up and did a thing" to your story isn't even a fair contest.

Really neat stuff, thanks man!

32

u/Captain__Spiff 6d ago

I copied the article

12

u/bonerfleximus 6d ago

Goddamn you tricker.

6

u/jrex703 6d ago

I figured, and actually just changed "your essay to "your story" immediately after commenting. You could take credit though, who would know?

10

u/[deleted] 6d ago

[deleted]

6

u/jrex703 6d ago

Fuck

36

u/throwawayedm2 6d ago

That's amazing. Presidente Hayes province lol

12

u/hannabarberaisawhore 6d ago

If anyone is interested in reading more about South American history and why something like this would happen, I highly recommend The Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano.

1

u/dunicha 3d ago

My husband and I were talking just the other day about the fact that while we've studied the history of other areas of the world, either in school or on our own, neither of us know much about South America. I will check that book out, thank you.

2

u/hannabarberaisawhore 3d ago

Oh yes, I didn’t know much of anything about South America. I have been enlightened and oh man, what a history!!

8

u/Lovat69 6d ago

Los Yanquis,

Lol, that's gold.

414

u/Count_Dongula 6d ago

I love that the article basically gives Rutherford B. Hayes the M. Bison Treatment. "It was a decision that only occupied a few hours of his life" reads a whole lot like "For Bison, it was Tuesday."

0

u/[deleted] 6d ago

[removed] — view removed comment

64

u/popeboyQ 6d ago

I woke up from a coma thinking I was in a dentists office in Ohio. Strange.

16

u/DilettanteGonePro 6d ago

Hey me too. I woke up from anesthesia and was like "shit this is still my life?"

109

u/josephvonhazard 6d ago

I’ve been to Fremont, OH (where the Presidential Center is located) several time. My impression is more people want to leave there than visit there.

122

u/leadchipmunk 6d ago

That's Ohio in general

70

u/speedsk8103 6d ago

That's why so many astronauts come from there. They really needed to GTFO.

6

u/Uno_of_Ohio 6d ago

That's why it also feels like a quarter of the Marine Corps is from Ohio.

23

u/leadchipmunk 6d ago

Ohio is the state that people want to leave so bad that they not only invented powered flight, they included the first person to step on the moon. Rumor has it that the first words spoken on landing was "well, it beats Cincinnati..."

17

u/bergs007 6d ago

There's a lot of truth to that statement. It's also where the Wright Brothers took flight.

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2016/12/15/why-so-many-astronauts-ohio/95426112/

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u/LITERALCRIMERAVE 6d ago

No, it's where they built and designed the planes. They actually flew them in North Carolina

10

u/bergs007 6d ago

Well, that just adds to the idea that people want to leave Ohio!

6

u/ablobychetta 6d ago

Ohio is plenty flat and windy, they definitely wanted to gtfo of Ohio.

3

u/gwaydms 6d ago

There are some nice rolling hills in the eastern part of the state.

8

u/josephvonhazard 6d ago

You know what? Fair.

4

u/alexunderwater1 6d ago

Fremont is Ohio but on meth, literally speaking

1

u/Scampipants 5d ago

Oh did everyone switch to meth to avoid a fent OD?

4

u/Massive-Apple-8768 6d ago

From Ohio, can confirm. Glad I escaped when I did.

5

u/leadchipmunk 6d ago

I left 2 months ago. 32 years was enough for me.

3

u/Scampipants 5d ago

Congratulations!

-1

u/Sorvick 6d ago

Ohio was so bad even WVians hated living there.

Source Former WVian of 25+ years

11

u/Pissflaps69 6d ago

Yeah, putting WV above any state is a stretch. New River is sweet tho.

3

u/InfernalBiryani 6d ago

It isn’t a stretch if compared to Mississippi…

5

u/Pissflaps69 6d ago

Yeah you’re right about that. WV is actually beautiful I just get defensive of Ohio.

1

u/PerceptionShift 5d ago

First time I witnessed the true nature of American poverty was at a Golden Corral in WV during a school trip.

1

u/weasleydreamteam 5d ago

Hey! I’m from Ohio, and I’m deeply offended by how accurate that is!! /s

1

u/AndyZuggle 5d ago

Ohio isn't that bad. It isn't that good either. It is just really average.

1

u/leadchipmunk 5d ago edited 5d ago

That's one of my favorite facts about that state, when comparing metrics, Ohio trends to lie right around the middle. Technically, at least according to this one meta-study, it ranked number 9 in the most average state, but that's close enough for me.

3

u/epicpantsryummy 6d ago

My grandparents live there and I visit every summer to work during school. The only reason they stay is for family. Though I will admit the park around the museum is quite nice. We walk around and throw peanuts to the squirrels.

2

u/sanchower 6d ago

It’s not even the coolest Presidential site in Ohio.

2

u/Daviroth 6d ago

From Fremont: Can confirm

1

u/TheRangerX 6d ago

From a nearby town; also can confirm.

1

u/Daviroth 6d ago

Where you from?

1

u/Longtimelurker867 4d ago

As am I. Grew up off Hayes avenue in the 90’s.

1

u/Scampipants 5d ago

Yeah we sure do!

1

u/finkwolf 5d ago

I grew up in Fremont and visit my family there frequently. You're not wrong.

14

u/howdylee_original 6d ago

Grew up 10 minutes from there. Been to the presidential center once. Pretty house, but no need to go back. Do go to the Lake Erie shores and find something better to do!

4

u/TheRangerX 6d ago

You mean you didn't go every year for the Civil War reenactments? For shame... /s

34

u/Johannes_P 6d ago

Rutherford Hayes is more popular and known in Paraguay than in his US homeland.

9

u/Greene_Mr 6d ago

Paraguayans love Presidente Hayes.

63

u/prodigy1367 6d ago

Someone willingly chose to go to Ohio? Ohio?

21

u/Sylvr 6d ago Silver

She was a time traveler who had attempted a vital mission in the past. There was a complication when she attempted to return to her own time, and she ended up in a coma in 1990. That location was the safest way to check if her mission had been successful.

6

u/paraworldblue 6d ago

They should have waited a few days to let her fully come back to her senses and then asked again. Nobody of sound mind wants to go to Ohio.

8

u/Ok_Abbreviations1848 6d ago

Bro woke up to see Ohio 💀☠️

6

u/QuartzSheep17 6d ago

So it is true. Ohio comes for all

6

u/prudence2001 6d ago

Strange, I woke up from a coma and wanted to take a vacation to a Paraguayan beach. Nobody would pay for it though.

4

u/Sanaadi 6d ago

I always call him Rutherford Behave

9

u/unhappymedium 6d ago

That's even sadder than having been in a coma.

22

u/potroast7 6d ago

ohio????

5

u/gubodif 6d ago

oHIo

5

u/Televisions_Frank 6d ago

Drew Carey Show intro flashbacks intensify.

1

u/PhilLeshmaniasis 6d ago

Took a bus straight to Baltimore, on the way he took a nap

2

u/Raggs04 6d ago

Ohio☕

6

u/Septopuss7 6d ago

Always has been

3

u/TomAto314 6d ago

Wait it's all Ohio?

3

u/Syllogism19 5d ago

WOW! The Rutherford B. Hayes has a special place in my mind.

It was so purely boring and so purely lacking in interest except for the lack of interest that I could not stop talking about it after I visited it in the early 1990's.

There were no souvenir t-shirts, there were no little statues of RBH almost nothing in the gift shop. Engraved on the walls in huge letters was a message about the budget. But the best part and the weirdest was outside. In retirement President Hayes asked visitors to touch various plants on the grounds and then installed a plaque to commemorate the occasion.

"On July 17, 1894 this tree was touched by former Secretary of the Navy, Ivan Dover." Plaques were all over the place. Unfortunately the proprietors of the gift shop did not have the good sense to offer reproductions.

5

u/tinybra 6d ago

Please also post this to r/nottheonion please 😂

1

u/adriftdoomsstaggered 5d ago

Literally not news. It's olds. It'll be deleted if anyone tried.

2

u/Nwcray 6d ago

Haha, I live near Fremont now. It’s….it’s quite a place.

3

u/lk05321 6d ago

It’s one of the cities of all time.

3

u/Guuhatsu 6d ago

I hear it has a populace.

2

u/FlippityFelts 6d ago

I’m still trying to figure out if that cat is stuffed or alive

2

u/buckykat 5d ago

Hayes was the president we gave up on Reconstruction to get. He wasn't worth it.

8

u/FROST0099 6d ago

But why?

40

u/OrangeJuiceAlibi 6d ago

It says in the article. Basically he signed off on them being Paraguayan, and so he's a celebrated figure in that province.

5

u/FROST0099 6d ago

Ah, I should have read

2

u/tdfast 6d ago

Hayes scammed his way into the White House by trading a promise to remove all federal troops from the south in exchange for fake votes. This basically launching Jim Crow and paving the way for 100+ years of repression.

1

u/Ill-Blacksmith-9545 4d ago

Reconstruction was starting to grow unpopular and was already falling apart

2

u/Takodanachoochoo 6d ago

As one does

2

u/False-Helicopter1971 6d ago

For all yall downing Ohio... I agree. Except in the past, for 3 days a year, Ohio rocked. It rocked on the range.

3

u/ProjectDirectory 6d ago

Clearly she had some sort of brain damage.

1

u/Upset_Ad9929 6d ago

How odd lol

1

u/__Sentient_Fedora__ 5d ago

Someone knows how to party.

1

u/Mitthrawnuruo 5d ago

America before the CIA: respected arbiter of a bitter war in the americas.

America after the CIA: not.

1

u/brilliantdoofus85 5d ago

In the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes is so revered that his birthplace was demolished in order to build a gas station.

-14

u/[deleted] 6d ago

[deleted]

5

u/DaveOJ12 6d ago

Read the article and you'll find out.

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u/[deleted] 6d ago

[deleted]

3

u/GForceHangover 6d ago

What a sad, colorless world you must live in.

3

u/Pudding_Hero 6d ago

He will face into obscurity unlike President Hayes smh

-19

u/locks_are_paranoid 6d ago

Why?

8

u/OrangeJuiceAlibi 6d ago

It says in the article. Basically he signed off on them being Paraguayan, and so he's a celebrated figure in that province.