Before he was President: Rutherford Hayes

Rutherford Birchard Hayes, 1877-1881 lawyer, soldier, U.S. congressman, governor of Ohio
Hayes's first law firm, Hayes and Buckland, in Lower Sandusky, Ohio got off to a sputtering start. Business was slow and the young lawyer was bored, restless, and—though he denied it—had symptoms of tuberculosis. After visits to New England and Texas, and seeking a fresh start, he moved to Cincinnati on Christmas Eve, 1849. In time, he made a name for himself in criminal law. Using his natural charm and his elite training, he defended society's outcasts, often managing to free them or save them from the gallows. Source

James Abram Garfield, 1881 canal boy
At age sixteen, Garfield ran away to work on the canal boats that shuttled commerce between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. During his six weeks on the boats, he fell overboard fourteen times, finally catching such a fever that he had to return home. While recovering, Garfield vowed to make his way in the world using brains rather than brawn. Source

He was a preacher for about a year at a Christian church when he decided to try his hand as principal of a high school in New York. He didn't get that job however, so he went on to become an instructor at the Eclectic Institute, where he was later promoted to principal. ("Garfield," by Allan Peskin.).

Chester Alan Arthur, 1881-1885 teacher
In 1845, at the age of 15, Arthur entered Union College in Schenectady, New York. During his school vacations, Arthur worked as a teacher to help pay his room and board costs of $125 per year and his college tuition of $28. Source

More stories: Duncan Hines   George Washington   Thomas Jefferson   Benjamin Franklin   James Garfield   Harry Truman   Henry Ford

 
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