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First Sitting President to Visit KU in 102 Years?

taft 2

The visit is on hold.  President Obama was to visit KU on Friday, April 19, 2013, but due to the Boston bombing has postponed the visit.

It had looked like Obama would be the first sitting president to visit KU since Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879. But Brittany Keegan of Watkins Community Museum was able to dig up the fact that President William Howard Taft (pictured) visited Lawrence on September 24, 1911. Taft spoke in old Robinson Gymnasium to a welcoming mass of people, then left for a short talk at the Haskell Institute, before departing for Baldwin City.

I’ve tried to find some other “KU and the Presidents” information, but this is what I have as I write this:

Presidents who visited KU While in Office
U.S. Grant – April 1873
Rutherford B. Hayes – September 27, 1879
William H. Taft – September 24, 1911

Visited KU After Leaving Office
William Howard Taft (Supreme Court)
Gerald Ford – 1978
Jimmy Carter  – 2003
Bill Clinton – 2004
George H.W. Bush – 2008

Visited KU Before Taking Office
Woodrow Wilson – 1912
Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1920
John F. Kennedy – 1957
George H.W. Bush – 1976

Visited Lawrence, Kansas While in Office 
U.S. Grant – April 1873
Rutherford B. Hayes – September 27, 1879
Theodore Roosevelt – 1904
Woodrow Wilson – 1916

Visited Lawrence After Leaving Office
Theodore Roosevelt – 1910

Do you have more information? Please share if you do, and try to give me a source. I will update this page as I receive additional information.

5 Responses to First Sitting President to Visit KU in 102 Years?

  1. Jill Jevens says:

    Please note the connection between T. Roosevelt and Langston Hughes (who would have been in Lawrence and eight years old in 1910) and John Brown/Harper’s Ferry:

    “Hughes was descended from a prominent black family that included his grandmother’s first husband, Charles Howard Langston, who was killed in John Brown’s 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, and Hughes’s great uncle John Mercer Langston, a noted abolitionist who became the first black to serve in the U.S. Congress. His grandmother Mary Langston, who in 1910 was honored by President Theodore Roosevelt as the last surviving widow of the Harpers Ferry insurgents, regularly told the young Langston accounts of his family history, giving her grandson many early examples of their resilience and determination.”

    Read more:

  2. Brittany Keegan says:

    Also, William Howard Taft visited once as president on September 24, 1911 to help dedicate Robinson Gym:

    • kuhistory says:

      Good job Brittany! Thanks for the news. University Archives thought Taft had been here another time but could not find the documentation.

  3. Brittany Keegan says:

    According to the LJ World, John F. Kennedy visited KU and gave the Convocation address before taking office (1957).

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