A History Of Presidential Visits In The North Country

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In 1817, President James Monroe paid a visit to Sackets Harbor, where villagers decked out Mill Creek Bridge welcomed him with a grand reception.

"They had bands playing and people started cheering," said Jeannie Brennan a Sackets Harbor historian.

Monroe may have been the first president to visit the north country, but he wouldn't be the last.  

In 1838, Martin Van Buren arrived by boat to inspect Madison Barracks in Sackets Harbor, but he couldn't decide where to dock.

"And one old timer remarked, 'Well that's Van Buren for you - he doesn't know if he's coming or going,'" said Jeannie.

Another president wasn't president yet when he was in Sackets.

Ulysses Grant lived in Madison Barracks as a junior army officer.

"And then he was transferred away like all the other officers that used to be here," said Robert Brennan, a Sackets Harbor historian.

Grant later visited Watertown as president.

A number of other presidents, including Chester Arthur, Teddy Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter, also came to the region either before or after they were elected to the White House.

Franklin Roosevelt opened the Thousand Islands Bridge in 1938.

Dwight Eisenhower inspected the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1958, and his vice president was also along.

Both Bushes were here.

George H.W. was a candidate when he visited Alexandria Bay.

George W. was president when he came to Fort Drum.

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also visited the local post during their presidencies.

Thanks to the role Fort Drum plays on the world stage, it's highly likely more presidents will make a stop in the north country in the future.

Friday, September 19, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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