Monday, February 15, 2016

A Post for Presidents' Day

Three years ago on Presidents' Day, Gossips recounted the presidents who had visited our little city through the years. That post, "Presidents in Hudson," identified four presidents who had visited Hudson: Martin Van Buren, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Addenda to that post had to be published when it was learned that Harry S. Truman visited Hudson in 1952, Woodrow Wilson stopped here briefly in 1916, and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison visited Hudson together in 1791, before either one of them was president. Now it seems yet another president may have paid a visit, albeit brief, to Hudson.

A year or so ago, Alan Levine contacted Historic Hudson and in turn Gossips, hoping to learn more about this photograph.

The photograph is labeled "From the Rowles Collection," which led Levine to Historic Hudson, and it was pretty certainly taken at the northern end of the Hudson train station.

Photo: Historic Hudson

But who is the person at the back of the train--the person the crowd has gathered to see and hear?

The presence of the men in three-piece suits and bowler hats, who are watching the crowd instead of the man speaking from the train, suggest that these are the Secret Service and the man speaking is the President of the United States. But which one? His height and girth suggest that he is William Howard Taft, who stood six feet tall and weighed more than 300 pounds. The man at the train station in Hudson resembles the man in the picture below, who is William Howard Taft, welcoming a visitor to the White House.

Photo: Library of Congress
What may be more compelling evidence that the man in the photo from the Rowles Collection is President Taft is the railroad car. Taft had his own special railroad car, which is featured in all of the following pictures. The car in the Rowles Collection photograph appears to be the same car seen in these pictures.

Photo: Denver Public Library 
Photo: Library of Congress

Photo: Feeser's Studio

Two questions remain: When did William Howard Taft visit Hudson, and what was the occasion?

Note: The image Alan Levine shared with Gossips and gave permission to publish is a rare photograph. The glass negative no longer exists. For this reason, Levine asks that if you wish to use the image you contact Gossips, and I will put you in touch with him. 

1 comment:

  1. Very cool. Excellent sleuthing.

    I reckoned it was Taft too, coming to Hudson to fill in the rest of the South Bay.