This chronology gives information on what the presidents were doing on the Fourth of July, but only during their tenures as presidents. Of course, many of the presidents remained in the public eye after leaving office, giving speeches and participating in a variety of activities. Information on some of the significant post-office activities may be found in the general chronology. You will notice that many of the dates have not been filled in. That is because the research is ongoing. Please check back periodically as this chronology is expanded. Information on the presidents and the Fourth of July was researched in various newspapers, including the National Intelligencer, New York Times, Washington Post, as well as other sources (Jim Heintze)
1789- Washington is in New York and is ill but writes a letter to the New York State's Society of the Cincinnati letting that organization know that he received their congratulations. (Writings of George Washington. Ed. John C. Fitzpatrick. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1939, 30:353); Federal Gazette, and Philadelphia Evening Post, 8 July 1789, 2.
1797- Adams is in Philadelphia where the Society of the Cincinnati and House of Representatives "and a great concourse of citizens" waited on him. "The volunteer corps partook of a cold collation prepared for them in the President's garden, drank his health with three huzzas, and then filed off thro' the House."
1801- Jefferson hosts the first public Fourth of July Executive Mansion reception.
1809- Madison is in the Executive Mansion entertaining guests, including various "Heads of Departments."
1817- The White House is not yet ready for receptions, so Monroe, on tour in New England, is in Boston with various government officials and naval commodores and participates in the ceremony there by giving a speech. He visits the ship-of-the-line Independence 74, Fort Warren, and stops off at the Exchange Coffee House. From there he visits the Governor of Massachusetts in Medford.
John Quincy Adams
1825- Adams is at the White House where he hears the Marine Band perform; at 10 a.m. he and various Secretaries review several volunteer companies. He then goes to the Capitol to hear the Declaration read. Following that, he returns to the White House to receive numerous guests.
1829- The President hold a public reception at the White House at 1 p.m. and at 3 p.m. is supposed to participate in a ceremony for the laying of a cornerstone of one of the "Eastern locks of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, near the mouth of Rock Creek," but a driving rain forces the cancellation of the ceremony
Martin Van Buren
1837- The President reviews a military parade in Washington.
William Henry Harrison
1841- Harrison dies on 4 April 1841
1842- The President is in the White House receiving "an unusually large number of citizens. President Tyler, dressed in a full suit of black silk, from the manufactory of Mr. Rapp, of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, received them with his accustomed frank courtesy, and all seemed in the highest spirits." In the morning, the President received the Sunday Schools, listened to two addresses made to him by children, and the "temperance people made a descent upon the White House, too, and the President made a capital speech to them."
James K. Polk
1845- Polk and the First Lady entertain guests at the White House, including Rev. John C. Smith and the Sunday school of the Fourth Presbyterian Church.
1850- Taylor attends a ceremony at the Washington Monument, eats a bowl of cherries and milk, gets sick, and dies a few days later.
1850- Vice-President Fillmore attends a ceremony held at the Washington Monument and takes over as President on July 9 upon the death of Zachary Taylor.
1853- Pierce is in the White House, but walks over to the Post Office to see about having an employee there reinstated after his firing. He writes a letter of acceptance that he will attend the opening of the new Crystal Palace in New York on July 15.
1858- Buchanan is in the White House entertaining guests.
1861- Lincoln calls an "extraordinary" session of Congress and presents an address regarding the suspension of Federal government functions by secessionists in the South; the President also reviews 29 New York military regiments in front of the White House and also raises the stars and stripes (the flag presented to the city of Washington by the Union Committee of New York) on a 100-foot high flagstaff located at the south front of the Treasury Department.
1865- Due to illness Johnson cancels a trip to Gettysburg where he is to honor the return of peace by consecrating a national monument. He remains in the Executive Mansion. (Letter, Andrew Johnson to David Wills, 3 July 1865. Papers of Andrew Johnson, Paul H. Bergeron, ed. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989, 8:344-45).
Ulysses S. Grant
1869- July 4th falls on Sunday and the official celebration occurs on the 5th. The President is at the White House having declined to attend the reunion meeting in New York of the Army of the Potomac.
Rutherford B. Hayes
1879- Early on the Fourth, Hayes is at Fortress Monroe in Virginia with Secretaries of the Treasury, War, Navy, the Attorney-General, and others, and witnesses test firing of bombs and large guns. Later that afternoon, he spends two or three hours on the U.S. steamboat Tallapoosa cruising around in the ocean. The evening is spent viewing fireworks.
James A. Garfield
1881- Garfield lies gravely ill in Washington, D.C. as a result of an assassin's bullet there.
Chester A. Arthur
1884- Arthur spends the Fourth in his office from about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. signing bills and receiving calls.
1885- Cleveland is at the White House with no callers admitted. In the early evening, he receives a cable dispatch from Cyrus W. Field in London which announces the celebration of the Fourth there. The President ends the evening with a drive around Washington which lasts about two hours.
1889- Harrison is in Woodstock, Conn., giving a traditional Fourth of July speech .
1897- McKinley spends the day with his mother in Canton, Ohio, and attends services at the First M.E. Church.
1902- Roosevelt gives a speech before 200,000 persons at Schenley Park, Pittsburgh.
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On the Fourth of July, I will be co hosting a barbeque with my friend Candy. I am looking forward visiting with friends and neighbors with lots of food, drinks and of course fireworks! Again this year I am the designated driver and I am more than happy to fulfill that role. I hope that each of you have a great and safe holiday! Please don’t drink and drive.
N Posted by Rain at 7/03/2007 10:47:00 AM
Mel Avila Alarilla posted at 4:04 PM
I just dropped by to say hello. Impressive work. Meticulously researched and chronicled. Very informative. Kudos for a great work. God bless.
Rav`N posted at 4:50 PM
Happy independence day. hope you have a great time
tom posted at 5:43 AM
I'm going to a cookout!! After I make it to President I'll invite you to Camp David for a cookout!!
Brian posted at 7:14 AM
Happy 4th of July!