While attacking Congressional Republicans for not adopting his failed energy policies on Thursday, President Obama falsely claimed President Rutherford B. Hayes scorned the telephone when it was first invented.
ABC’s Jake Tapper wrote:
The president decried the “naysayers” who “don’t believe in the future, and don’t believe in trying to do things differently.”
He then cited President Rutherford B. Hayes whom, he said, “reportedly said about the telephone, ‘It’s a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?’”
There’s only one problem. Rutherford B. Hayes loved technology, and was the first President to use the telephone and the typewriter. He also had Thomas Edison demonstrate the phonograph at the White House, and recorded his voice on Edison’s gramophone.
Obama, however, wasn’t finished bashing the former President.
“That’s why he’s not on Mt. Rushmore,” he said of Hayes. “He’s looking backwards, he’s not looking forward. He’s explaining why we can’t do something instead of why we can do something. The point is there will always be cynics and naysayers.”
But history tells a different story.
“He was a person that was very avant-garde, not only in his acceptance of technology but in every aspect of his life,” said Nancy Kleinhenz, the communications manager at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center.
“His attitudes were opposite to many respects of what was standard for a man of his time,” she added.
She said a Rocky Point, R.I. newspaper article from June 29, 1877 described Hayes as “delighted” when he first experienced listened on the telephone, with “a gradually increasing smile wreathe(d) his lips and wonder shone in his eyes more and more.” Hayes “looked at (the phone) a moment in surprise and remarked, ‘That is wonderful.’”
That doesn’t sound like a man turning his back on technology, but that’s the way Obama described him.
As for the quote Obama attributed to him, Kleinhenz suggested that is a myth.
This wouldn’t be the first time Obama got U.S. history wrong. Last September, he falsely claimed that Abraham Lincoln founded the GOP, and in November, claimed Herbert Hoover cut taxes and spending when he didn’t.
It’s just another in a long string of gaffes made by this President.
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