Monday, February 19, 2018

Presidents in Hudson

Before Presidents Day 2018 is over, Gossips presents this review of the presidents who have visited our little city. Of the forty-five, ten come to Hudson--before, during, or after they were president.

Thomas Jefferson (3) and James Madison (4) came to Hudson in the spring of 1791, before either became president. They came to visit Seth Jenkins, who owned a large distillery, with the hope of persuading him that French wine would produce better spirits than molasses from the British West Indies.

Martin Van Buren (8) visited Hudson often. Long before he became president, Van Buren had a law office in Hudson. In 1839, at his midterm, Van Buren came to Hudson expecting, as reported in the Columbia Republican, that he would be greeted by "a pageant, brilliant, glorious and unprecedented in the history of Presidential tours," but, alas, Van Buren was a Democrat, and the city leaders of the time were Whigs. The Common Council "wisely refused to squander the people's money in defraying the expense of Mr. Van Buren's electioneering tour." Even the fire department, "whose splendid appearance on gala days have won for them an enviable reputation," refused to turn out.

Abraham Lincoln (16) stopped in Hudson in February 1861 on his inaugural journey from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, D.C. Hudson was one of eighty-three stops along the route. In 1865, after his assassination, Lincoln's funeral train, retracing the route of the inaugural journey to carry his body back to Springfield for burial,  stopped briefly in Hudson on the night of April 25. 

Theodore Roosevelt (26) visited Hudson in 1914, five years after he left the White House. He came to speak about his Amazon expedition at the Hudson Opera House, but he made the crowd assembled to hear him speak wait while he stood in the wings and devoured not one but two big bowls of vegetable soup fetched for him from a lunchroom across the street. The lunchroom that supplied the soup was very likely the establishment of Thomas E. Cody, located at 330 Warren Street. 

There is photographic evidence that William Howard Taft (27) visited Hudson, probably on a whistle-stop tour while he was president, but exactly when this happened is uncertain.

On Saturday, November 11, 1916, Woodrow Wilson (28) was briefly in Hudson. Traveling from Williamstown, Massachusetts, to Washington, D.C., his train stopped in Hudson. His private car was attached to the end of a regular train, and when the train pulled into the Hudson station, his car came to a standstill under the Ferry Street bridge. A crowd, reported to number nearly 500, clamored to get a glimpse of the president. He came out onto the rear platform just as the train started up again, and he remained on the platform until the car passed the station. The Hudson Evening Register reported, "Several people had the opportunity to grasp his hand."  

Franklin Roosevelt (32) visited Hudson in 1932, when he was governor of New York, to dedicate to the hospital at the Firemen's Home.

Photo courtesy Lisa Durfee
On October 10, 1952, Harry S Truman (33) stopped in Hudson while campaigning for Adlai Stevenson. Hudson was one of a dozen stops made that day.

The tenth president to visit Hudson was Bill Clinton (42), who was here just about a year ago, on February 27, 2017, having lunch at Grazin'.

Photo courtesy Aaron Enfield and Amy Lavine

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