TR SAID 'I THINK I'LL GO FOR A CARRIAGE RIDE, NO WAIT, WE'LL TAKE THE CAR.'
Hartford, Connecticut (JFK+50) Theodore Roosevelt was certainly not the first president but he was the president of firsts.
TR was the 1st president to go down in a submarine, the first to have a telephone in his own home, and the first to own his own car but he was not the first president to ride in one.
That honor belongs to his predecessor, William McKinley, who rode in a Stanley Steamer* in the late 1890s.
*The Stanley Steam Car, produced 1896-1924, used a compact fire-tube boiler to power its 2 cylinder engine. A SS driven by Fred Marriott broke the land speed record at 127 mph in Ormond Beach, FL.
1912 Stanley Steam Car
Photo by Stephen Foskett (2006)
wikipedia user: sfoskett
What Mr. Roosevelt did that Mr. McKinely didn't do, however, was to become the 1st President of the United States to ride in an automobile in a public parade.
That was here in Connecticut 111 years ago today, August 22, 1902.
The President, on tour in New England, rode in "a handsome Victoria" driven by "two expert...chauffeurs."
TR was cheered all along the route and stopped in Hartford to speak to a crowd of 10,000 at Pope Park**.
**Pope Park was donated to the city of Hartford by Colonel Albert Pope who manufactured cars and bicycles. The park offered various outdoor activities to the residents of the city.
In the speech, the President paid tribute to the working men of America.
"The man who works with his hands...also...works with his head."
Leigh County Historical Society (1914)
In 1910, after he left the White House, Theodore Roosevelt became the 1st president to fly in an airplane.
His successor, William Howard Taft, had all the horses in the stables at the White House replaced by automobiles.
It would not be until January 20, 1921, however, that Warren G. Harding would become the 1st president to ride to his inauguration in an automobile, a Packard.
Barack Obama, who tools around in a black Cadillac called "The Beast," is also a president of firsts.
He is the first president to use a Blackberry, the first to have a Twitter account, and the first to dunk a basketball.
Sorry, I made up the part about the basketball, but who knows, maybe he can, after all, some of his supporters believe he can walk on water.
The Learning Network, New York Times, August 22, 2011, www.learning.blogs.nytimes.com/