A City of
PRESIDENTs A SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOUR a special thanks We would like to thank Park Burroughs of The Observer-Reporter, Ella Hatfield of Citizens Library, Clay Kilgore of the Washington County Historical Society, Bob Heim of The First United Methodist Church, and Anna Mae Moore of Washington & Jefferson’s Miller Library for research assistance. We also thank W&J’s Communications Office for assistance with this project, and our friends and family for reviewing a draft of the tour. Photo Credits (Stop 7-8): Observer Publishing Company
PRESIDENTIAL WASHINGTON The tour begins on the Washington & Jefferson college campus Difficulty:
1 mile, about 1 – 1.5 hours with stops, moderately hilly, some steps
Metered spots on E. Wheeling Street by the W&J Admissions House. Parking anywhere in Washington is free on Saturdays and Sundays (except parking garages).
Campus Entryway on E. Wheeling Street (across from Admissions House)
Welcome! This tour will take you to a variety of sites where American Presidents have spoken, stayed, or visited when they have come to Washington, Pennsylvania—residents sometimes call it “Little Washington.” So why did fifteen Presidents come here? For many, it was the fact that the National Road, the primary artery from east to west in the 19th century, came through Washington. Others visited because they had family or friends in the county; some were campaigning. And one President came to Washington because of a woman named Elizabeth Stockdale. Over the next hour, you will learn their stories.
Directions to next stop:
Walk through the entryway, make a right and walk past the first building (with authors’ names around the top), and stop in front of McMillan Hall, the building that has pillars and the date “1793” above the door.
Walking Tour Points of Interest
Walking Tour Reference Points
*These maps were created from Washington County’s Geographic Information System (GIS) and include data from various municipal, county, state, and federal sources, which may contain errors. Maps should not be used for exact measurement of distance, direction, ground position, precise location of geographic features, or a vulnerability assesment at a specific location.
LET’S GET WALKING! 2
James Monroe, 1817: A President Visits the West
In front of you is the oldest building on the Washington & Jefferson campus, McMillan Hall. The original stone section was begun in 1793 to house Washington Academy, a precursor of Washington College that would become half of Washington & Jefferson. McMillan Hall is linked to our first Presidential visit. In 1817, James Monroe, the fifth President, was the first President since George Washington to take a lengthy trip while in office. Only a few weeks after his inauguration, Monroe set out on a journey to build national unity that would take him as far north as Boston and as far west as Detroit. He spent his days traveling, hearing and making speeches, meeting people, and touring facilities. By 1817, Little Washington had been a town for nearly 40 years and was the home of more than 1,300 people. The town boasted several churches, a main street, and Washington College. Washington was separated from the east coast by the Allegheny Mountains, strengthening its perceived connection with the western states of Michigan and Ohio. When Monroe approached town with his travel companions, several men on horseback escorted him to David Morris’s Tavern on South Main Street (later the Globe Inn, Stop 11 on this tour), where a select group of citizens greeted him. Andrew Wylie, the president of Washington College, welcomed him formally and thanked him for visiting the western region. It was one of Monroe’s last stops before he returned to the capital, where the White House, which had been burnt to a shell in the War of 1812, was finally rebuilt and ready for occupancy.
Rossin Campus Center Plaza
Barack Obama, 2008: Clinging to Guns or Religion
Barack Obama, the forty-fourth President of the United States (2009 – ) paid a visit to Washington on April 15, 2008, when he was campaigning for office. Then Senator Obama was in a close contest with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination when he made this visit a week before the Pennsylvania primary. Obama’s visit to the W&J campus was clearly aimed at softening the controversial remarks he had made the previous weekend. Asked why members of the working class in Pennsylvania and the Midwest were not supporting his candidacy, Obama responded that they “cling to guns or religion” out of frustration with industrial job losses. The media played up this comment extensively, as did Hillary Clinton, who claimed that Obama was out of touch with small-town America. Obama sought to counter this criticism by addressing an audience of 300 veterans at the Rossin Campus Center on the W&J campus. Acknowledging that he had chosen his words poorly, he insisted that he was no elitist. He vowed to get American troops out of Iraq and to fix problems in the underfunded Veterans Administration. Earlier that day, Obama had spoken to an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred students, faculty, and townspeople in the plaza where you are standing next to the Rossin Campus Center. Obama stood on a platform facing the crowd, while secret service agents were positioned on the grass nearby. Obama ended up losing the Pennsylvania primary to Hillary Clinton, although by a narrower margin than had been predicted. As we know, he eventually won the nomination and the Presidency.
Directions to next stop: Directions to next stop:
Proceed to the left end of McMillan Hall, turn right, and then cross S. Lincoln St. Continue down the steps to the Rossin Campus Center Plaza.
Return back up the steps between Rossin Campus Center and The Commons. Then cross S. Lincoln St., and turn right. Follow the sidewalk to the large statue of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Washington and Jefferson Statue
In the Shadows of Washington and Jefferson
It’s worth noting that unlike the other Presidents described on this tour, neither George Washington nor Thomas Jefferson actually visited our town. Washington traveled as a soldier and landowner to this region, but not to Little Washington itself, while Jefferson’s closest interaction came when he approved the route of the first federally-funded road (eventually known as the National Road described in Stop 15). Yet even with these limited connections, the two men seem to cast long shadows here, where they are the joint namesakes of Washington & Jefferson College. Looking at the statue, one gets the impression that George and Thomas must have been buddies, for here they are, sharing a manly embrace while they gaze into the distance together. How did they end up as the joint namesakes of a college in a town neither one visited? It seems natural, perhaps, to think of these men together. Before the American Revolution they were both wealthy gentlemen running large plantations in Virginia. They both devoted themselves to the cause of American independence: Washington as the commander of the Continental Army and Jefferson as a politician and diplomat. When George Washington was elected our first President in 1789, he chose Thomas Jefferson as his Secretary of State. During Washington’s presidency, however, their relationship began to sour. Jefferson resigned as Secretary of State and began to lead a political party that opposed the “Federalism” represented by Washington; if once united in purpose, they now seemed divided by politics. Subsequently, two colleges were created in Washington County— one named for Washington, and one named Jefferson. In 1865, the Civil War would leave both colleges short of students. Thus, Washington College and Jefferson College had to unite to survive. And so here they are, Washington and Jefferson, united in bronze in front of their jointly-named college.
Directions to next stop:
Follow the path to E. Beau St. (which intersects with S. Lincoln St.) and turn left. Walk a short distance to the large brick and iron gate, and turn left through the gate. Walk a short distance and the tower of the Old Gym (Swanson Wellness Center) will be on your left.
The Old Gym Tower
William Howard Taft, 1916: A Yale Man Cheered at W&J
As you stand on the path near the campus gate, notice the stone building with a tower and spires on your left. It is now named The Swanson Wellness Center and sometimes called the “Old Gym,” but was once the College’s main athletic facility and largest indoor gathering space. Inside, former President William Howard Taft spoke to citizens and students in 1916. His visit was sponsored by a fund established by Elizabeth Stockdale to benefit the College and community. Today, Taft is perhaps best known for his size – he was a very large man both in height and girth. He is also known as the only President to also become chief justice of the Supreme Court. In 1916, he was in between these roles; he had been soundly defeated by Woodrow Wilson in his re-election bid in 1912 but wouldn’t be nominated for the Supreme Court until 1921. So 1916 found him teaching in the law school at Yale, his alma mater, and working for peace as World War I raged in Europe. The fact that Taft was a Yale man was a notable fact for the W&J students in his audience at The Old Gym. The two colleges were huge football rivals, and W & J students had even created a Greek cheer to parody a similar cheer at Yale. Both football cheers mimicked the sound of croaking frogs as depicted in Aristophanes’ play “The Frogs.” Though it may seem odd to us now, to early 20th century college men, croaking like a frog in Greek was apparently hilarious. When Taft finished his speech on “Our International Relationships,” which not only described world events but also referenced W&J’s recent football victories over Yale, the students gave him a big cheer – the Greek football cheer, of course. “Whichi coax,” they all croaked at him. For good measure, they ended with a personalized cheer just for him, yelling “Taft! Taft! Taft!”
Directions to next stop:
Continue along the path until you are in in the middle of the block in front of Old Main (the large brick building with two towers). Follow the path down the steps until you reach S. College St., and stop at the brick entryway.
Brick Entryway on S. College Street Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932: A Fleeting Visit
You just came down the hill in front of Old Main, which was built after McMillan Hall to provide more classrooms and a chapel. On Oct. 19, 1932, the all-male student body was gathered in the chapel to hear a lecture by a visiting speaker denouncing alcohol, which had been illegal in the United States since 1920 because of a prohibition amendment. Normally, when chapel was dismissed the students would have walked directly to classes, but on this particular Wednesday, classes were delayed. Instead, the W&J students and faculty streamed down the hill to College Avenue. They wanted to catch a glimpse of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the New York governor running for President, as he drove by in a touring car. Roosevelt was accompanied by his son and six motorcycle police. The motorcade continued to Main Street where they encountered several thousand townspeople. To the disappointment of the crowd, Roosevelt stopped for only a few minutes before continuing to a speaking engagement in Wheeling. Roosevelt won Washington County in the presidential election the following month when he beat Herbert Hoover in the midst of the Great Depression. Despite the convictions of people like the chapel speaker, prohibition was repealed at Roosevelt’s urging a year after his election.
Directions to next stop:
Turn right and walk along S. College St. to the end of the block at the intersection with E. Beau St. Turn left and cross S. College St., then proceed up E. Beau St. to the intersection with S. Main St. Make a left on S. Main St. without crossing; continue until you can see the courthouse portico across the street.
Washington County Courthouse Portico
John F. Kennedy, 1962: Calm Before the Storms
Many residents living in Washington today still remember John F. Kennedy’s speech on Saturday, October 13, 1962. Kennedy came to stump for local Democrats in their bids for re-election, and people flocked to see the President. As you look across to the Courthouse portico, imagine the streets filled in every direction with thousands of people. Some hung out of windows, some waved protest signs, and some provided security for the teeming crowd. The bands of Avella and Washington High Schools played while the crowd waited for the President. He eventually arrived in an open-top convertible driven up Beau Street. From a podium filled with staff and politicians, Kennedy encouraged the crowd to vote for local Democrats in the upcoming election. After 10 minutes, he concluded his remarks but not his visit. He stayed for another two hours for lunch at the George Washington Hotel and a rest period that gave him time to watch part of a Penn State football game. In photographs, Kennedy looks friendly and relaxed, but he didn’t know that a crisis was brewing. Just four days later, Kennedy would learn about the presence of nuclear missiles in Cuba, the greatest challenge to his presidency. A year and one month later, his Presidency would end abruptly with his assassination in Dallas, Texas. For residents of Little Washington, the memory of Kennedy’s visit – a calm before national storms – remains a treasured piece of local history.
Directions to next stop:
Proceed down S. Main St. and make a left at E. Cherry Ave. The entrance to the George Washington Hotel lobby is under the pillars on your right. The hotel invites tour-takers to go through the doors into the lobby if there is not a private event underway.
George Washington Hotel
Harry S. Truman, 1953: Private Citizens
In 1953, Harry S. Truman finished his eighth year as President, after first ascending to the Presidency with Franklin Roosevelt’s death in 1945, and then winning re-election in 1948. During his presidency, World War II ended and the Korean War began. After leaving office, Truman and his wife spent three weeks on a road trip that brought them to Little Washington.
Harry and Bess Truman did something unprecedented—they arrived in Little Washington without staff or Secret Service agents, and with Truman himself at the wheel. They were returning from New York City to their home in Missouri. The Trumans spent the night at the George Washington Hotel and tried to keep a low profile. When a reporter called their room, Truman courteously answered a few questions but declined a full interview. The Trumans ate dinner in the hotel’s Pioneer Grill, then quickly retreated to their room before leaving the next morning. A picture of the Trumans in the elevator, taken by a Washington Observer photographer, seems to capture their tenuous grip on privacy. They only wanted to be treated like private citizens, but couldn’t quite dodge the camera. They might have been warned if they read the letters of James Monroe, who wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1817 that he found it impossible to travel as a private citizen.
Directions to next stop:
After exiting the George Washington Hotel, return to S. Main St. Turn left and walk to the intersection with E. Wheeling St., then turn left again and walk a few feet until you see the sign and stairs for the Union Grill on your left. You may want to have a seat on the bench.
Bill Clinton, 1992 and 2008: On the Campaign Trail
Bill Clinton, the forty-second President of the United States (1993 – 2001), has been one of the most frequent presidential visitors to Washington, Pennsylvania. The political campaign trail has brought Clinton to Washington on three occasions: once when stumping for his own election, once for his wife’s nomination as the Democratic candidate, and once for Barack Obama.
Clinton’s first visit to the city came on April 26, 1992, when he was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination against Jerry Brown, just two days before the Pennsylvania primary. He made a brief stop at the Union Grill, where approximately 200 party activists had gathered. A photo of Clinton and the owner of the restaurant appears in the main dining room. Clinton’s next visit came on March 10, 2008, when he stumped for his wife Hillary at the Henry Memorial Gym on the W&J campus. The former President spoke some 35 minutes to a crowd estimated at 2000 people. Hillary Clinton proved a popular candidate locally, winning 78% of the vote in Washington County. His final appearance in the city came in the waning days of the 2008 presidential campaign when he again addressed a large crowd at the Henry Memorial Gym on October 29. Clinton showed up this time on behalf of Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Clinton wryly observed that “at the start of the race, I was for someone else,” but urged those in attendance to back Obama in the forthcoming election.
Directions to next stop:
Return to corner, cross E. Wheeling St., then cross S. Main St. Proceed down S. Main St. just a few steps to the Whiskey Rebellion statue (of three men whispering).
Whiskey Rebellion Statue
Benjamin Harrison 1876 and 1892: Funeral Procession
Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third President of the United States (1889 – 1893) and the grandson of former President William Henry Harrison, made two visits to the borough. Neither occasion was a happy one. Harrison attended the funeral of his mother-in-law in 1876 and his father-in-law in 1892. Harrison’s wife Caroline had family ties to Little Washington. Her father, John Witherspoon Scott, had graduated from Washington College in 1823. John Scott, an ordained Presbyterian minister, went on to become president of Farmer’s College near Cincinnati, where Benjamin Harrison met his future wife. Although the Scotts spent most of their life in Ohio, they retained family connections back in Washington, Pa., and celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary here. When Mary Scott died in 1876, she was buried in the family plot in Washington Cemetery. John Scott and the Harrisons came to Washington for the funeral. When Harrison, a Republican, was elected President in 1888, the widowed John Scott came to live in the White House. The White House brought personal tragedy to the Harrison family. Caroline Harrison died of tuberculosis on October 25, 1892, a few weeks before Benjamin Harrison was defeated in his bid for a second term. Little more than a month later, Caroline’s father died on November 29, 1892. The grieving President boarded a train several days later to bury his father-in-law in Washington Cemetery. Washington & Jefferson College suspended classes as a token of respect. If you look to the south, you can see Washington Cemetery on the hilltop to the left of Trinity High School. The house connected to Trinity high school was once Trinity Hall and was significant to the visits of Ulysses S. Grant that will be described at Stop 14.
Directions to next stop:
Proceed down S. Main St. to the blue Pennsylvania state historical marker for The Globe Inn.
The Globe Inn Historical Marker The Prestigious Globe Inn
The Globe Inn hosted more Presidents than any other building in Washington, Pennsylvania. Five Presidents are known to have stayed here: James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk, and Zachary Taylor. Built in 1798 by David Morris, the Globe Inn became the most prestigious hostelry in the borough in the first half of the 19th century. The completion of the National Road in 1818 brought many visitors both famous and anonymous. In addition to the Presidents mentioned above, General Lafayette stayed at the Globe Inn in 1825 during his extensive tour of the United States to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of American independence. Most of the presidential guests at the Globe Inn were travelling to Washington, D.C., from their homes farther west. Taking advantage of steamboat navigation on the Ohio River, they typically disembarked at Wheeling and then made their way east to the national capital by means of the National Road. For more information on the National Road, see Stop 15. The Globe Inn was torn down in 1891.
Directions to next stop:
Proceed just a few steps down S. Main St. to The David Bradford House, which also has a blue Pennsylvania state historical marker in front of it. (Top Left) James K. Polk (Top Right) Zachary Taylor (Bottom Left) William Henry Harrison
The David Bradford House
A Frontier Rebel Against Washington
George Washington definitely did not sleep here. This 1788 stone house was the home of David Bradford, the leader of the Whiskey Rebellion (1791 – 1794), one of the major crises that Washington had to face as the nation’s first President. The Whiskey Rebellion had many causes, but the fuse that lit the powder keg was the whiskey excise tax that Congress approved in 1791. The whiskey excise imposed a tax on the distillers of what had become America’s most popular beverage. These distillers included not only large-scale commercial operations but thousands of farmers on the frontier from western Pennsylvania to Georgia who ran small stills to convert their surplus grain into alcohol. A passion for whiskey and economic necessity encouraged these stills along the frontier. Bad roads to the East meant that it was impossible to ship bulky rye grain across the mountains profitably, but a train of pack horses loaded with whiskey could do so. The whiskey excise tax thus struck at the economic livelihood of many frontier areas and revived popular views that taxation amounted to tyranny. The whiskey excise met with protest all along the frontier. Whiskey rebels tarred and feathered several excise officers and forced the rest to resign. The excise tax was unenforceable on the frontier for two years.
Corner: Maiden/Main (former Hotel Auld) Andrew Jackson, 1820s and 1830s: Familiar Salutations
You are now standing at the former site of the Hotel Auld. The Hotel Auld was demolished in the 1960s. Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States (1829 – 1837), may have been the most frequent presidential visitor to Washington, Pennsylvania. Jackson made at least five stops in the borough while traveling between his home, The Hermitage, in Nashville, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. Jackson stayed overnight in Little Washington both on his way to being inaugurated President in 1829 and after he left office in 1837. Jackson took advantage of steamboat service on the Ohio to get to Pittsburgh and then traveled over land south to Little Washington en route to his inauguration. As the editor of the Washington Examiner commented, “It really was an interesting spectacle to see that great man who had been chosen by the unbiased suffrage of a free people to the most exalted situation on earth, mix among the hardy yeomanry of the country, and exchange mutual and familiar salutations.” Jackson’s entourage then took the National Road east toward Washington, D.C. Jackson was a guest at the Globe Inn on Main Street while headed for his inauguration. Eight years later, he stayed at John Dagg’s Mansion House while returning to Nashville.
Washington himself led a 13,000-man force across the mountains to deal with the rebels, coming as far as Bedford, about 100 miles east of here. He turned back to Philadelphia when it became apparent that there would be no major armed resistance. The rebellion dissolved and Bradford fled in October 1794.
One of Jackson’s early visits to Washington proved to be quite controversial. In 1824, General Jackson was a candidate for the Presidency, and rumors surfaced that the General had met secretly with an anonymous political operative while he was here. A local newspaper’s editor went to considerable lengths to prove that this was a fabrication, producing affidavits from leading citizens and a letter from Jackson himself that Jackson had had no secret visitors. The editor attributed this rumor of a clandestine meeting to a “tribe of corrupt and mercenary politicians” who wanted to deny “this second Washington” the presidency. Jackson ultimately lost in 1824 to John Quincy Adams but won the Presidency in the election of 1828.
There is considerable irony in that a town named after George Washington would house the leader of a revolt against Washington’s presidential policies. Note that Washington’s statue on top of the courthouse looks down upon Bradford’s residence.
During his stop in Washington, Pa. in the fall of 1824, Jackson stayed at James Briceland’s Inn. For obvious reasons, this inn later became known as the “Jackson Hotel.” It eventually became known as the Hotel Auld.
Directions to next stop:
Directions to next stop:
In 1794, however, the Washington Administration sought to enforce the law by issuing summons for local rebels to appear in court. Bloodshed soon followed, and David Bradford emerged as the local leader who urged outright resistance to the Washington Administration. In response, Washington became determined to crush this domestic insurrection.
Proceed down S. Main St. toward the intersection, and stop at the corner of S. Main St. and E. Maiden St. You will be standing in front of the Miracle Ear Parking Lot.
Cross S. Main St. at the intersection with E. Maiden St. Proceed on E. Maiden St. back toward the W&J campus. Stop partway down the first block at the blue Pennsylvania state historical marker for the LeMoyne House.
Ulysses S. Grant, 1860s and 1870s: A Familiar Guest
We have stopped at the LeMoyne House to honor the President who probably felt the most at home in Little Washington: Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was more than just a traveler passing through town. His good friend William W. Smith, the cousin of Grant’s wife Julia, was a prominent businessman in Washington who owned a beautiful house called Spring Hill. After serving as the Smiths’ home, the house later became a military academy for boys called Trinity Hall (seen from the Whiskey Rebellion Statue at Stop 10), and is now part of Trinity High School. Ulysses and Julia Grant first came to Washington in 1867 to attend the marriage of William W. Smith to Emma McKennan. Grant was not yet President, but he was already revered as the glorious victor of the Civil War. When he arrived for the wedding by train, citizens cheered for the man who had led them to “final victory over the rebellion.” They asked for a speech, but Grant told them that it was his “habit…to postpone everything of that kind until his next visit.” After his election to the Presidency, Grant returned for a week-long visit in 1869. Out of respect for the President, whose dislike of crowds was well-known, the people gathered along Main Street but remained quiet, allowing his carriage to pass without cheers or shouts. Local politicians asked him to lay the cornerstone for the new town hall, and despite his dislike of such events, he graciously complied. He did not make a speech. During his stay, Grant had to address a brewing national problem – attempts by speculators James Fisk and Jay Gould to corner the gold market. Grant dealt with this crisis by ordering the sale of government gold in a telegram from Little Washington. While not at Spring Hill, Grant also rode around town in his buckboard (an open-seat carriage) and attended services at the Methodist Episcopal Church on Wheeling Street, a predecessor of today’s First United Methodist on Beau St. The Grants visited twice more in the 1870s and corresponded regularly with William W. Smith until Grant’s death in 1885. When the town hall was demolished in the 1980s, the cornerstone was unearthed, and its box of historical mementos was delivered to the Washington County Historical Society, located here in the LeMoyne House. The house also has several of Grant’s personal items on display in a room devoted to Civil War history. Grant left plenty of mementos behind to remind Washingtonians of the special connection they had with our 18th President.
Directions to next stop:
Continue to the end of the block, cross S. College St., then proceed to the National Road marker near the corner of S. Lincoln St. and E. Maiden St. It looks like a miniature Washington Monument.
National Road Marker
The National Road, Presidential Highway
Former Washington Female Seminary
John Quincy Adams, 1843: Old Man Eloquent Falls Silent
The miniature Washington Monument in front of you is one of the most familiar symbols of the National Road. The castiron markers show the distances to major destinations, in this case to Cumberland, Maryland, and Wheeling, West Virginia.
Look ahead, and you’ll see the Swanson Science Center, which sits on the footprint of the former Washington Female Seminary, a girls’ school open from 1836 – 1948. Many famous visitors who came to Washington made a stop at the seminary.
The National Road was a significant factor in bringing many Presidents to Washington, particularly in the 19th century. The National Road provided the best means for many Presidents who lived in the Ohio Valley to travel to the national capital.
One of them was John Quincy Adams, our 6th President (1825 – 1829). He had been out of office for nearly fifteen years when he visited Washington, Pa., in December of 1843, but Adams had found another career in politics as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. It was his fellow representative Thomas McKennan of Washington who invited him to visit on a return trip from Cincinnati, where Adams had dedicated an observatory. The two men served in Congress together for nearly a decade and had been allies in the fight to lift Congress’s gag rule on anti-slavery petitions. They also worked together on the committee that established the Smithsonian Institution from the donation of James Smithson.
The completion of this first federally-funded highway in 1818 between Cumberland, Maryland, and Wheeling, then in Virginia, marked a vast improvement in national transportation. The all-weather road, built to exacting engineering standards, cut travel times significantly between the East and the Ohio River. The new stage coach lines that sprang up enabled a traveler to go from Baltimore to Wheeling in two days. Washington, Pennsylvania, became an important stop on the National Road, which eventually extended to Illinois. Numerous Presidents took advantage of this new route to the East. Andrew Jackson, as you heard in Stop 13, took the National Road en route to his inauguration. Other Presidents who followed this well-worn path to the White House included William Henry Harrison, James Polk, and Zachary Taylor. All of them stayed overnight in Washington, Pa. Traffic along the National Road dwindled to a trickle after the railroads succeeded in building lines through the Appalachian Mountains in the 1850s. Passenger trains were far speedier and far more comfortable than a stage coach. Presidential visitors to Little Washington for the next several generations would arrive by train, not by horseback or stagecoach. The arrival of the automobile age in the early twentieth century made for the first long-distance travel on the National Road since the 1850s. (US Route 40 largely follows the National Road.) Warren G. Harding, (pictured above) became the first President to drive through the borough in 1922. Subsequent Presidents who arrived in this locality by auto included Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and John F. Kennedy.
Directions to next stop:
Proceed along E. Maiden St. to S. Lincoln St., turn left onto S. Lincoln St. and walk to the end of the Swanson Science Center on your left. Turn left at E. Strawberry Ave., and stop in front of the building (near the circle with the flag pole).
In December, 1843, bells rang to announce Adams’ arrival, and more than 2,000 people gathered to see him at the courthouse. He seemed surprised and delighted by the outpouring of enthusiasm at his visit. Like his father John Adams, John Quincy never thought of himself as beloved by the people. He told them it was rare to see such a crowd “assembled for the purpose of showing marks of regard for me.” Perhaps nothing surprised him more, though, than his appearance at the Washington Female Seminary that evening. Principal Sarah Foster gave a speech praising his famous father. When it came time to reply, Adams was uncharacteristically quiet. For a man renowned for his speaking ability, and even nicknamed “Old Man Eloquent,” this was an unusual occurrence. Adams eventually spoke up to tell the crowd that this was “the first instance in which a lady has addressed me personally.” He soon recovered his famous speaking abilities in an answer praising Miss Foster, the assembled female students, and his late mother Abigail Adams.
Directions to next stop:
Take the path that leads you to the steps directly across E. Strawberry Ave. Go up the steps and proceed along the pathway that leads between Lazear Hall and the Admissions House. Stop at the brick entryway on E. Wheeling St., across the street from where the tour began.
this concludes the tour Thank you for your interest in the history of little washington We hope you have enjoyed the tour. Please stop back some day – may we suggest a visit to the LeMoyne House or the David Bradford House? And who knows, maybe you or someone you know will become President, and we can add another stop to the history of Presidential Washington. About this tour: This tour was written in 2012 by Dr. W. Thomas Mainwaring, Professor of History, and Dr. Jennifer Riddle Harding, Associate Professor of English. Our accounts of Washington’s presidential visitors are based primarily on reports in the Washington Examiner, Washington Observer, Washington Reporter, The Observer-Reporter, and Red & Black newspapers. We also referred to maps, census data, church and college histories, encyclopedias, and personal reflections. Congressional records were obtained from online versions of the National Intelligencer and Congressional Globe. We used the following sources to provide context on specific Presidents: Achenbach, Joel. “The Grand Idea: George Washington’s Potomac and the Race to the West.” New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005. Algeo, Matthew. “Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip.” Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011. Branton, Harriet. “Focus on Washington County,” vols. 1 – 4. Washington, PA: The Observer Publishing Company, 1979 – 1984. Coleman, Helen Turnbull Waite. “Banners in the Wilderness; Early Years of Washington and Jefferson College.” Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1956. Crumrine, Boyd. “History of Washington County with Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men.” Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Digital Research Library, 1999. Online. Cunningham, Noble E. “The Presidency of James Monroe.” Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996. Ellis, Joseph J. “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation.” New York: Vintage, 2002. Ellis, Joseph J. “His Excellency: George Washington.” New York: Vintage, 2005. Miller, William Lee. “Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress.” New York: Vintage, 1998. Miller, Hilary Lee. “To ‘Pursue the Route Which Will Be of the Greatest Public Utility’: The National Road and Washington, Pennsylvania.” Master’s Thesis UNC Charlotte, 2011.
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