Lemonade Lucy was the nickname given to Lucy Ware Webb Hayes, the wife of our 19th President Rutherford B. Hayes. She was called this because she was a strong advocate of the temperance movement and refused to serve alcohol at White House functions.
Lucy Webb was born in Ohio. Her father, a doctor, died when Lucy was two while on a trip to Kentucky to free some slaves he had inherited. When Lucy was in her teens she began studying with the instructors at the Ohio Wesleyan University where her brothers were enrolled as well. She graduated from the Wesleyan Female College in Cincinnati at 18, unusually well educated for a young lady of her day. She was the first president's wife to have completed a college degree.
Lucy Hayes was the first to do other things as well. She was the first president's wife to be referred to as "The First Lady" when a journalist noted her remarkable composure and charm at the inauguration of her husband in 1877. She started the still standing tradition of the easter egg hunt and egg roll held annually on the White House lawn. She started the institution of the White House Tea. She was the first president's wife to not hold an inaugural ball, although that was in part due to the controversy surrounding Haye's election. He actually lost the popular vote by over 200,000 votes, but won the electoral college vote by 1.
Lucy, following in her father's steps was an avid foe of slavery, and supported her husband in his role as the commander of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. She became known as "Mother Lucy" to the men in the camp, where she visited often "to minister to the wounded, cheer the homesick and comfort the dying." Lucy Hayes had a great concern for the less fortunate and visited orphanages, mental institutions, and veterans' hospitals. She helped found an orphanage in the city of Columbus, Ohio while her husband was serving as governor of Ohio. Lucy was also a supporter of womens' rights and other social causes such as help for the disadvantaged.
The Haye's stand on alcohol was not supported by all, and a refreshment known as "Roman Punch" was developed by one of the white house stewards. Roman Punch was a kind of Sherbet or frozen punch made of lemon juice, sugar, beaten egg whites, and supposedly a hearty dose of Saint Croix rum. Believing the the Haye's knew nothing about the contents of this drink, it was served openly. Later Rutherford Hayes wrote "The joke of the Roman punch oranges was not on us, but on the drinking people. My orders were to flavor them rather strongly with the same flavor that is found in Jamaica rum! This took! There was not a drop of spirits in them! This was certainly the case after the facts alluded to reached our ears. It was refreshing to hear "the drinkers" say with a smack of the lips, 'Would they were hot!". Despite her stand against alcohol, Lucy became known as a charming and gracious hostess, and was well liked by most.
Rutherford and Lucy Hayes left Washington DC after one term, retiring gratefully to their estate, Spiegel Grove in Ohio. There they lived peacefully until Lucy's death in 1889 of a stroke.