Augusta has been a presidential magnet

When President Clinton came to Augusta in 1997, the day after his State of the Union address, he said the visit was only natural.

 

"Reading your paper this morning," he said of The Augusta Chronicle , "it would be easier to name the presidents who haven't come here than the ones that have."

Presidents from George Washington to Clinton visited Augusta for policy and pleasure. Early visits were generally governmental, as Augusta was vital to military strategy in the South. As the town became a resort in the late 19th century, several presidents visited for pleasure.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1791

Washington visited Augusta for three days when the city was the capital of Georgia and considered part of the Western frontier. He toured the area to view the remains of British fortifications.

He listened to students at Richmond Academy give oral exams and attended a reception where, according to his writings, the president noticed the presence of "between 60 and 70 well-dressed ladies."

Later histories said Washington suffered a personal loss during his stay when a favorite greyhound, named Cornwallis, died and was buried in Augusta. Most scholars believe the tale was an April Fool's joke.

JAMES MONROE, 1819

Monroe visited Augusta to check on its military readiness. There was talk of war with Spain, England or a European coalition.

Augusta was building a new arsenal on the river that drew the president's interest because it would supply arms for a war in the South. The president visited as fear of a slave revolt circulated around town and the leader of the alleged conspiracy was executed.

MARTIN VAN BUREN, 1849

Van Buren visited after his term.

ZACHARY TAYLOR, 1850

Taylor visited during the second year of his presidency. His visit helped bring Augustans into the Know-Nothing Party a few years later.

ULYSSES S. GRANT, 1880

Grant visited as former president to celebrate New Year's Day at the invitation of the Augusta City Council. He stayed a few days and was escorted around town by the mayor. Grant was also escorted by the Douglass infantry and the Gardner's brass band. Black Augustans particularly welcomed the ex-general of the Union army.

RUTHERFORD B. HAYES, 1891

Former President Hayes visited as guest of honor at Patrick Walsh's 1891 Exposition. The event was similar to the World's Fair, with each day having a theme. The event was designed to promote Augusta, which was then a burgeoning resort town.

WILLIAM MCKINLEY, 1898

McKinley came at the persuasion of Mayor Walsh on Nov. 5. The president visited Camp McKenzie and the arsenal. His party went down Walton Way and was greeted by 12,000 people on Broad Street. The presidential party included Gen. Joseph Wheeler, who was born in Augusta.

WILLIAM TAFT, 1909

Taft spoke to 1,000 people at Tabernacle Baptist Church and visited an orphanage. The city honored the president with a Taft Day banquet. The president later returned to the city to attend the memorial service for Archibald Butt, a White House aide, who died in the sinking of the Titanic.

WOODROW WILSON, 1912-13

Wilson, who lived in Augusta from 1858 to 1870, returned to the Garden City after his election as president.

He reportedly formed his cabinet while staying at Bon Air Hotel.

Wilson visited during the 1911 campaign to see Ty Cobb play his first major league game.

WARREN HARDING, 1923

Harding and his wife came to Augusta for a vacation.

They stayed at the Partridge Inn on Walton Way. The president played golf while his wife watched baseball games.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, 1930s

President Roosevelt reportedly spent at least one night here aboard the presidential train during the 1930s.

DWIGHT EISENHOWER, 1953-61

Eisenhower, a member of Augusta National Golf Club, visited the Garden City numerous times during his presidency, mostly to play golf. The city finally welcomed him officially with a parade down Broad Street, and the president stayed in Eisenhower Cabin, a cottage built for him at Augusta National.

LYNDON JOHNSON, 1964

President Johnson visited town in an embarrassing campaign stop. He was booed and heckled during a speech at the Municipal Building. Republican Barry Goldwater carried the city in the election.

JIMMY CARTER, 1976

Georgia native Jimmy Carter came to Augusta during his first bid for the presidency. He had visited the city in 1970 during his gubernatorial campaign.

RONALD REAGAN, 1983

Reagan's golfing weekend vacation in Augusta was cut short after terrorists attacked U.S. Marines in Lebanon.

During the president's stay, a gunman crashed through Gate 3 at Augusta National, where Reagan was staying, and held five people hostage for 21 hours before surrendering.

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, 1988

Republican presidential nominee George H.W. Bush campaigned in March. He played golf at Augusta National. He reportedly selected Dan Quayle as his running mate while in town.

BILL CLINTON, 1992

Democratic presidential candidate Clinton stumped for votes during an early morning rally in October at Augusta's Riverwalk Amphitheater. A week later, he was elected the 42nd president of the United States. He visited again in 1997, the morning after his State of the Union address, speaking at Augusta State University.

 

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