New Bedford Has Hosted Many U.S. Presidents
When Bill Clinton visited New Bedford in March 2016 to stump for his wife Hillary's presidential campaign, it was not his first visit to the Whaling City – nor was it the first visit by an American president.
Bill Clinton's journey from Hope, Arkansas, to the annals of American political history included at least one other stop in New Bedford. Clinton appeared in Downtown New Bedford in 2012 as the guest of Mayor Fred Kalisz for a rally for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Shannon O'Brien. Clinton opened the rally by stating, " I want to say it is good to be back in New Bedford for me." No one I know seems to recall Clinton being here prior to 2012.
As I stated, Clinton was not the first U.S. President – sitting, aspiring, or former – to visit New Bedford. There were at least 11 others. Ann Marie Lopes, formerly of New Bedford Cable Access produced a great piece recalling all of the known visits by American presidents.
Among the sitting presidents to visit New Bedford: Ulysses S. Grant in 1874; William Howard Taft in 1912; Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936; and Harry S. Truman visited three times, once as a candidate for president in 1944, again when seeking re-election in 1948 and again in 1952.
Abraham Lincoln visited New Bedford as a Congressman in 1848. John Quincy Adams, who lived a short distance away in Quincy, Massachusetts, visited twice as a former president in 1835 and 1843.
John F. Kennedy, also from Massachusetts, visited New Bedford several times as a U.S. Senator.
Other presidents who stumped through New Bedford on their way to the White House include Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush.
As we mark Presidents Day 2022, we can look back and appreciate the role, large or small, that the New Bedford area has played in national politics. Judging by the number of U.S. presidents who have visited New Bedford, it becomes clear how significant it really is.