Utahns have had a chance to hail many of the chiefs

By Joseph Bauman

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Feb. 16 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

President Warren G. Harding speaks while standing in a car in Bountiful, Utah. Governor Randall Mabey is standing with hat in hand. Mrs. Harding is looking out of the car.

Deseret News archives

Ever since October 1875, when hordes of Salt Lake residents gathered at the railroad depot on South Temple to greet President and Ulysses S. Grant and the first lady, the country's heads of state have been dropping in on Utah.

In fact, after Grant, only four presidents have failed to come a-visiting — Presidents James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge. Or we could say five didn't visit, if we count Cleveland for both of his terms, which were separated by the stint of President Benjamin Harrison. (Cleveland is officially the 22nd and 24th president.)

When Grant appeared in Utah Territory, "The people were out in large numbers upon South Temple Street, in the vicinity of the depot, and elsewhere, eager to catch a glimpse of the presidential party and to express by their cheerful countenances the cordial welcome which sprang from their hearts towards persons placed in such high and responsible positions by the united voice of the people in this great country," the Deseret News exulted in its Oct. 5, 1875, edition.

"The welcome was as courteously and cordially acknowledged by the party, and it would be difficult to say which were most gratified by the mutual manifestations of respect by visitors and visited towards each other."

Unfortunately, the momentous occasion happened before newspapers were able to print photographs, and no view of Grant's stopover is retained by the Deseret News. But all his successors in office who came to Utah are represented in the newspaper's archives.

Some of these views of presidential visits are printed with this article, while many more are posted online. Ronald Fox, North Salt Lake, a collector of political and Utah history items, chose the images from the vast Deseret News photo archives.

Fox, who is writing a book about visits by presidents, provided this timeline of chief executives on Utah soil:

Grant, Oct. 2-3, 1875; Rutherford B. Hayes, Sept. 5-6, 1880; (James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur and Grover Cleveland, in order, not on Fox's list); Benjamin Harrison, May 8-9, 1891; (Grover Cleveland misses his second chance); William McKinley, May 26, 1901; Theodore Roosevelt, May 29, 1903; William Howard Taft, Sept. 24-26, 1909, and Oct. 5 and 18, 1911; Woodrow Wilson, Sept. 23-24, 1919.

From Utah, Wilson went on to Colorado. Fox noted that on the Colorado leg of his journey, "he suffered the first attack of what became a massive stroke that paralyzed him for the rest of his life." Edith Wilson ran the White House for her incapacitated husband.

Presidents Warren G. Harding, June 26-27, 1923; (not Calvin Coolidge); Herbert Hoover, Nov. 7, 1932.

Hoover's single visit to the Beehive State as president came when he was en route to California, where he would vote in the presidential election. At a railroad stop in Salt Lake City, he addressed a crowd, then continued on the trip. The next day he lost the election to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Sept. 29, 1935, and Sept. 1, 1936; Harry S Truman, June 26-27, 1945, Sept. 20, 1948, and Oct. 6, 1952; Then-presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sept. 4, 1954; John F. Kennedy, Sept. 25-26, 1963; Lyndon B. Johnson, Sept. 18, 1964 and Oct. 28, 1964; Richard M. Nixon, July 24, 1970, and Oct. 30, 1970; Gerald R. Ford, Nov. 1, 1974; James Carter, Nov. 4, 1978; Ronald Reagan, Sept. 10, 1982, Oct. 29, 1982, and Sept. 3, 1984; George H. W. Bush, Sept. 18-19, 1991, July 17-18, 1992, and Sept. 14-15, 1982; William J. Clinton, Feb. 26-March 1, 1998; George W. Bush, Feb. 8, 2002, Aug. 22, 2005, Aug. 30-31, 2006, and May 28-29, 2008.

In addition, President Barack Obama campaigned in Utah on Aug. 5, 2007, when he was a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination.

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