A history or presidential visits to Maine
From Roosevelt and Taft to Obama and Bush, Maine has a rich history of presidential visits. Donald Trump was added to this list on Friday.
MAINE, United States – It may be surprising that as small as we are, Maine has in fact been visited by many US Presidents over the past century or more.
Of course, it’s well known that the Bushes have spent their summers in Kennebunkport for a long time, but presidents from the turn of the century and before have been there as well.
James K. Polk (President 1845-1849)
The first president to visit Maine was James Polk in 1847. Polk traveled by train from Boston to Portland and later to Augusta.
Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
In August 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant came to Augusta by train for a three-day visit with US House Speaker James G. Blaine.
Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)
In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison traveled to Bath to inspect the conditions of the city’s port and shipyards. According to the Maine Maritime Museum, this led to Bath Iron Works entering into a contract for two steel gunboats, which was awarded and led to the first steel ships built in Maine.
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt has made several trips to Maine. He first came to Maine as a student to hunt bears, meeting two guides who have become longtime friends, even working with Teddy for over a year at his North Dakota ranch. Roosevelt climbed Katahdin and hunted the woods several times.
He later returned as president to Portland in 1902 and also to Bangor where he spoke from Bangor House. Roosevelt also visited former Secretary of State Blaine on his trip to Augusta. He then stopped in Waterville on his tour of Maine.
William Howard Taft (1909-1913)
Roosevelt’s successor, William Howard Taft, came to Bar Harbor, golfing in Kebo Valley, where he allegedly took more than a dozen strokes from a sand trap.
Taft made a long trip to Maine in July 1910, making stops in Eastport, Bangor, Ellsworth, Rockland and Islesboro. He based his operations in Bar Harbor, where he stayed on a 273-foot presidential yacht named Mayflower, which had 200 crew members, according to the New England Historical Society.
“The three days that have passed in Bar Harbor will be red letter days in my life,” Taft told a crowd in Bar Harbor. “The air is like champagne in a state of prohibition, and without the uncomfortable consequences that come with drinking this liquor.”
Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
President Warren Harding visited Poland in the spring of 1921 for a vacation.
Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
President Calvin Coolidge came to Portland in 1922. He was vice-president at the time. According to Portland Press Herald, Passamaquoddy historian Donald Soctomah says Coolidge also fished at Lake Sysladobsis in Washington County.
Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
Herbert Hoover fished on Kennebago Lake in 1939.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
FDR had his famous summer “cabin” on Campobello Island in New Brunswick, about a mile across the water from Lubec. He sailed in Passamaquoddy Bay and surrounding waters for years.
In 1941, FDR made a surprise visit to Rockland, following a top secret meeting with Winston Churchill in Newfoundland. Roosevelt sailed to Rockland aboard the Presidential Yacht, almost out of the blue. A crowd quickly formed and followed the President in a convertible to Rockland Station, where he boarded the train to Washington.
His wife Eleanor was in Lewiston in the 1930s to visit the home of John Clifford, who was the United States Attorney General for Maine and an active organizer of the Maine Democratic Party.
Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)
Harry Truman visited South Portland in 1942 when he was a senator and gave a speech on shipbuilding efforts during the war.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
President Dwight D. Eisenhower spent time on vacation in Ranley Lakes in 1955 and drew huge crowds to Pittsfield, Farmington and Skowhegan. He appeared with Senator Margaret Chase Smith and then Governor Ed Muskie, who would later run for President himself, 17 years later.
John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
JFK made several trips to Maine. He visited Bristol and Boothbay Harbor, stayed with Senator John Tunney in his island cottage near Pemaquid Beach, and attended mass at the Catholic Church.
“He’s never been happier than when he was at the helm of a sailboat, steering the course, munching on a little cigar, eating fish chowder and joking with his family and friends,” the book explains. Far from the White House said.
On his last visit in October 1963, he addressed a large crowd at the University of Maine in Orono just a month before he was assassinated.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)
Lyndon B. Johnson has been at least twice: a campaign stop in Portland, and later a visit to Lewiston, where he spoke at Kennedy Park. Along the way, he made local history in Topsham, stopping for ice cream at the Dairy Queen, which is still in operation. For over 50 years, the DQ location has displayed a sign that read “LBJ Ate Here”.
Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
President Nixon was at Loring Air Base upon his return from the Soviet Union on July 4, 1974, about a month before he was forced to resign.
President Gerald Ford traveled to Maine in August 1975 to participate in a field day program for mentally handicapped children in Portland. He also attended a Republican lunch. Mayor Harold Loring gave Ford a key to the city and unveiled a plaque on August 30, 1975 declaring “President Ford Day in Portland”.
Jimmy Carter was in Bangor several times. He visited the city before launching his campaign for the White House. The most famous Carter came to Queen City in 1978..when he spoke in the Bangor Auditorium..then he spent the night at the Murray family home. After leaving office, Carter made several stops in Bangor on return flights from overseas.
George HW Bush (1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan never came, but President George HW Bush made up for it, reveling in visits to Walker’s Point. He said he spent part of every summer of his life there, except when he went to war. And Maine loved him for it.
Bill Clinton was here several times, including an early morning campaign visit on Election Day 1996 in Bangor. A version of a whistle from the age of the jets, he landed, spoke to a large and enthusiastic crowd inside an airplane hangar, then headed for his next airport. He has returned several times since, most recently last fall, to the University of New England at Biddeford.
George W. Bush (2001-2009)
Like his father, George W. Bush knows Maine well, having spent part of his childhood at Walker’s Point. He now owns the main house, which belonged to his parents.
Barack Obama has visited Maine several times. Most memorable was when he took his family to Acadia National Park for a vacation in July 2010. Obama also visited Portland and South Portland for campaign rallies.
And now President Trump, who campaigned in Maine several times in 2016, winning an electoral vote and now hoping to do it again. He was in Guilford on Friday.
You can watch his full talk at Puritan Medical Supplies here:
A previous version of the story mistakenly mixed William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison. It has been updated to reflect the fix.
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