Havre de Grace’s Presidential History

This year, Presidents’ Day is Monday, February 19. The United States has had 46 total presidents. Some are memorable, others are easily forgotten. Many of them have visited Havre de Grace.  

During the 1700s and 1800s, our presidents and their families traveling to northern cities such as Philadelphia, New York or Boston would have crossed the river from Havre de Grace to Perryville. After the railroad and vehicle bridges were constructed, they would have traveled through Havre de Grace by train or motorcoach. 

According to Ron Browning, president of the Historic Havre de Grace Foundation, chairman of the Havre de Grace Historic Preservation Commission, retired U.S. and world history teacher and former columnist for The Record, here is a complete list of all U.S. presidents and their time spent in Havre de Grace.

Note: presidents are listed in chronological order by their presidential number. 

Presidents Who Definitely Visited Havre de Grace.
1. George Washington and First Lady Martha Washington. President Washington stayed at Rogers House, a former tavern that is the current location of Abbey Burger Bistro.
3. Thomas Jefferson. He is believed to have stayed at Swan Harbor Farm
16. Abraham Lincoln. Unfortunately, President Lincoln’s funeral train carrying his coffin left Washington for Philadelphia and New York City before heading to Illinois for burial.
26. Theodore Roosevelt. He gave a speech in front of the Opera House in 1912.
27. William Howard Taft. An avid duck hunter, he stayed at the Bayou Hotel (now an apartment building next to the Promenade) for duck hunting.
33. Harry S. Truman. He and First Lady Bess and daughter Margaret had lunch at the Howard Johnson (now Chesapeake Grille) in 1954. 

35. John F. Kennedy. When he was still Senator Kennedy from Massachusetts, JFK made a campaign stop in Havre de Grace in May 1960. Mayor McLhinney gave him a key to the city. *Information and photos courtesy of George Wagner, owner of Bahoukas Antique Mall and Beer MuZeum and Havre de Grace’s Casual Historian.
42. Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. Both the president and vice president visited Havre de Grace on April 21, 1995 for the 25th Anniversary of Earth Day. They visited Concord Point Park, the Promenade and the Decoy Museum. It is extremely rare when both the president and vice president attend the same event. Photos from their visit are on display in the Decoy Museum. Pictured below are President Clinton and Vice President Gore with then Board of Director’s President Allen Fair and then Board of Director’s Vice President Jim Pierce. See President Clinton’s full speech on C-SPAN.

Presidents Who Would Have Passed Through Havre de Grace
Passage would have been by ferry crossing, train or motorcoach.
2. John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams
4. James Madison and First Lady Dolly Madison
5. James Monroe
6. John Quincy Adams. As a young man, he would have accompanied his father President John Adams on trips. 
7. Andrew Jackson
8. Martin Van Buren
9. William Henry Harrison. Although he was only president for a month, he would have crossed the river during his time in the military.
10. John Tyler
11. James K. Polk
12. Zachary Taylor
13. Millard Fillmore
14. Franklin Pierce
15. James Buchanan
18. Ulysses S. Grant
21. Chester A. Arthur
22 and 24. Grover Cleveland
25. William McKinley
28. Woodrow Wilson
30. Calvin Coolidge
31. Herbert Hoover
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
36. Lyndon B. Johnson. 
37. Richard M. Nixon
38. Gerald R. Ford
39. Jimmy Carter
40. Ronald Reagan
41. George H.W. Bush
43. George W. Bush
44. Barack Obama
45. Donald Trump
46. Joe Biden

Presidents Whose Passage Through Havre de Grace Is Unknown
17. Andrew Johnson
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
20. James Garfield
23. Benjamin Harrison
29. Warren G. Harding


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