HISTORY PRESIDENTIAL VISITS
Meriden’s 13 presidential visits Editor’s note: To mark the Record-Journal’s 150th anniversary this year, Throwback Thursday will feature historical events covered by the newspaper. The following list of presidential visits was compiled in 2006 for a special edition on the Meriden bicentennial. 1. George Washington Washington traveled through Meriden in June 1775 on his way to assume command of the Continental Army in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and again in November 1789 on a presidential tour, according to records contained in the “Guide to the History and Historical Sights of Connecticut” published by the Yale University Press. 2. Andrew Jackson and 3. Martin Van Buren (when vice president) The visit is chronicled in two local historical accounts. They differ on the date. One places it “about 1829” the year after his first election. The other mentions no date at all but implies that it occurred between 1835 and 1837, which would have been the final years of the fiery figure’s second term in office. 38 |
RECORD-JOURNAL 150TH ANNIVERSARY
4. James K. Polk His visit was entirely unscheduled and the actual date eludes us. William W. Ellsworth of Hartford was governor at the time and he and the president had several terms together in Congress and were well acquainted. The president’s special train passed the governor’s train at Meriden and the two friends met and clasped each other by the hand from their respective trains. 5. Abraham Lincoln On the night of Wednesday March 7, 1860, the 51-year-old Illinois lawyer who was making his bid for the presidency, got off the train and paraded by torchlight with several thousand followers to the “town house” (where the present City Hall is located) where he gave an address which echoed the sentiments he had uttered so forcibly at the Cooper Union in New York City and in New Haven just days before. 6. Ulysses S. Grant General Grant first passed through Meriden on the 8 o’clock train on the evening of June 17, 1869. A large crowd turned out
to welcome the Hero President. The band played a lively air of welcome, a space was cleared on the platform of the rear car when the General put in his appearance and many of our citizens had the pleasure of grasping him by the hand. 7. Benjamin Harrison President Benjamin Harrison and members of his Cabinet and guests arrived by train in Meriden on July 3, 1889 en route to Woodstock, Conn., where the presidential party were to be the guests of H. C. Bowen over July 4. U.S. Senator Orville H. Platt of Meriden was aboard the train which made a brief stop at the railroad station where a crowd gathered to greet the nation’s Chief Executive. 8. Theodore Roosevelt Never in its history has the city of Meriden entertained such a distinguished visitor with so great a demonstration and with such genuine good feeling and patriotic outbursts of enthusiasm devoid of the least semblance of disorder as it did on Aug. 22, 1902 when Theodore Roosevelt was the guest of the city.