The 7th Most Embarrassing Moment of Ohio History is
7. Presidents and Generals First
Newark (22 July 1878). President Rutherford B. Hayes, soon-to-be-president General James A. Garfield, General William Tecumseh Sherman, and other notables came to Newark for a “Great Re-Union of the Veteran Soldiers and Sailors of Ohio.” It was held at the Great Circle Earthworks, then the site of Newark’s fairgrounds. A speaker’s platform had been built, presumably by the lowest bidding contractor, so that the estimated 15-20,000 people thronged within the ancient enclosure could see and hear their heroes. Part way through the program, the platform began to collapse and President Hayes and General Sherman, according to an account published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, “only saved themselves by springing forward out of their chairs, which tumbled back into the ruins.” Fortunately, Newark did not become infamous on that day for accidentally killing off a president.
Photograph of Rutherford B. Hayes from the collections of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center.