From John Hennessy:

President McKinley in Fredericksburg in May 1900. He is in the carriage, his face toward the camera. Click to enlarge.

Next month I’ll be doing a program at the Fredericksburg Area Museum called Footfalls of the Presidents, an offshoot of their ongoing Footfalls of the Famous exhibit on notable visitors to Fredericksburg.  It’s a program that will chronicle the visits of sitting, future, and former presidents to our area. Some visits were incredibly brief (the record for shortness stands at three minutes), others mundane, and some were emphatically important; at least two presidential trips to Fredericksburg involved real or threatened violence, including what I think is the first physical assault ever made on a sitting president.  One president lived in town for several years. Some stopped as a matter of convenience on their way through; others came for momentous reasons.

Judge and historian John T. Goolrick greets President Harding at the 1921 Marine Corps exercises on the Wilderness Battlefield. It was Goolrick, incidentally, who in 1924 would urge the removal of the slave block in downtown Fredericksburg, arguing that it had never been used to sell slaves.

By my count, about half of U.S. presidents have visited the Fredericksburg region–thirteen of them as sitting presidents. The list as it stands today is below–given in order of their presidency, not necessarily in the order of their visits.  There are a couple of additional suspects that I’ve not been able to confirm. It seems likely John Tyler was here at some point, likewise Zachary Taylor, who was born in Orange County. I’ve got to believe Woodrow Wilson was in Fredericksburg too (the closest I can put him is in Milford).  The work continues.

The question is, does anyone know of any more?

Here is the current list:

Washington      Jefferson    Madison     Monroe    Andrew Jackson    Van Buren   W.H. Harrison      Lincoln     J. Davis      Andrew Johnson     Grant     Arthur      Grover Cleveland        McKinley      Teddy Roosevelt      Taft      Wilson (in Milford, Caroline County)  Coolidge     Harding       F.D. Roosevelt (twice)     Eisenhower     Bush41    Obama

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