In the 19th and most of the 20th centuries, sitting presidents of the United States were frequent visitors to George Washington's home, often coming and going with little pomp and circumstance.

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George Washington

John
Adams

Thomas Jefferson

James
Madison

James
Monroe

John Quincy Adams

Andrew Jackson

Martin Van Buren

William Henry Harrison

John
Tyler

James K. Polk

Zachary
Taylor

Millard Fillmore

Franklin
Pierce

James
Buchanan

Abraham Lincoln

Andrew Johnson

Ulysses S.
Grant

Rutherford B. Hayes

James A. Garfield

Chester A. Arthur

Grover Cleveland

Benjamin Harrison

Grover Cleveland

William McKinley

Theodore Roosevelt

William Howard Taft

Woodrow Wilson

Warren G. Harding

Calvin
Coolidge

Herbet Hoover

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Harry S.
Truman

Dwight D. Eisenhower

John F.
Kennedy

Lyndon B. Johnson

Richard
Nixon

Gerald
Ford

Jimmy
Carter

Ronald
Reagan

George H. W. Bush

Bill
Clinton

George W. Bush

Barack Obama

Donald Trump


Nearly every president has come to Mount Vernon. Explore a timeline of every recorded instances of United States presidents visiting George Washington's beloved home.

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Early Presidential Visitors

Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale (Wikimedia)

Artist's rendition of President Rutherford B. Haye making an unexpected visit to Mount Vernon with his wife on May 8, 1878.

Thomas Jefferson visited Mount Vernon in 1801, shortly after George Washington's death. Jefferson, then Vice President, came to pay a condolence call on Martha Washington. According to historian Don Higginbotham, Mrs. Washington supposedly said later “that, next to the loss of her husband,” Jefferson’s appearance there was “the most painful occurrence of her life.”

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Abraham Lincoln supposedly almost visited Mount Vernon. Although the property was considered neutral territory during the Civil War, it is unlikely that Lincoln visited the estate during his presidency. According to John Dahlgren of the Washington Navy Yard, "I advised the President not to land, and remained in the boat with him."

The Civil War Years at Mount Vernon

 

President Buchanan and the British Prince of Wales visit George Washington’s tomb in October 1860, painting by James Rossiter (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

President James Buchanan planted an elm tree at the northeast comer of the bowling green and, a few years later, the brand new Mrs. Grover Cleveland, recently married at a White House ceremony, planted a similar tree at the northwest comer. Sadly, both trees were toppled by a tornado in 1906.

Famous Visits to Washington's Tomb

 

In 1890, President and Mrs. Benjamin Harrison attended a reception hosted by the Regent and Vice Regents during their annual board meeting, and eight years later, President and Mrs. William McKinley followed suit. The First Lady was so frail, however, that she needed to be carried from room to room in the Mansion.

Teddy Roosevelt

Edith Roosevelt in her official White House Portrait (Wikimedia)

It would appear that no president enjoyed his trips to Mount Vernon more than Theodore Roosevelt. The longtime superintendent who hosted most of those visits, Colonel Harrison Dodge, recalled in his memoirs that President Roosevelt "took his visits to Mount Vernon in a holiday spirit and was usually in a characteristic good humor."

In 1907, President and Mrs. Roosevelt, accompanied by the Postmaster General and other dignitaries, rode by horseback from The White House to Mount Vernon. "Just before they arrived," remembered Dodge, "a heavy downpour of rain came on, practically without warning and the party arrived quite wet and considerably bespattered with mud." Dodge found temporary wraps for the party, and while their wet garments were cleaned and dried, the guests paused for lunch. Roosevelt possessed an "irresistible companionability," noted Dodge, "and the meal proceeded with an extreme hilarity that bordered on hysterics."

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On another occasion, Mrs. Roosevelt and her son Quentin traveled to Mount Vernon on the presidential yacht, the Sylph. With Dodge leading the way, they proceeded by foot to the site of Washington's gristmill and distillery, Woodlawn Plantation, and the ruins of the Fairfax home at Belvoir, traveling some five miles.

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President Wilson Brings a Yacht and a Steinway

USS Mayflower (Wikimedia)

On several occasions, President Woodrow Wilson honored Mount Vernon with his presence. The most memorable visit occurred July 4, 1918, when he brought more than 50 foreign-born citizens of the United States on the presidential yacht, the Mayflower. Each participant brought a handsome wreath decorated with the colors of his former nation. All were placed in and around George Washington’s Tomb. A Steinway grand piano was placed next to the Tomb, and the noted opera singer John McCormack, burst forth with "The Star Spangled Banner." Dozens of cedar trees were hastily planted to screen the piano from the Tomb itself.

Some 20,000 people attended the event - a crowd far larger than any the estate has hosted over the past three decades.

Other 20th Century Visits

President Herbert Hoover and Mrs. Hoover commemorated Washington’s birthday, 1930 (MVLA)

The Roosevelts & Madame Chiang Kai-Shek (MVLA)

On November 8, 1925, President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge escorted the Prince Imperial and the Princess Imperial of Japan, who arrived incognito as "Comte Asa and Comtesse Asa."

President and Mrs. Hoover celebrated Washington's Birthday in 1932 at a special wreathlaying ceremony and President Franklin D. Roosevelt brought Prime Minister Winston Churchill of England and other dignitaries to the estate on New Year's Day in 1942.

A year later, President and Mrs. Roosevelt toured Mount Vernon with Madame Chiang Kai-shek of China on Washington's birthday. The Roosevelts made many visits to Mount Vernon. President Roosevelt was asked to speak at Mount Vernon on April 14, 1939, as part of the celebration of the sesquicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.

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In September 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and His Imperial Highness, Crown Prince Akihito of Japan, placed a wreath at Washington's Tomb.

The Kennedy Dinner

President John F. Kennedy and Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy with President Mohammad Ayub Khan of Pakistan and his daughter, Naseem Akhtar Aurangzeb (MVLA)

Perhaps the most elegant and elaborate presidential visit occurred in 1961, when President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy decided to host a formal state dinner party, for the first time ever, outside of The White House.

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The idea of using the first president's home for a major event originated when Mrs. Kennedy and Mount Vernon's superintendent, Charles Cecil Wall, went horseback riding on trails throughout the 500-acre estate. Mrs. Kennedy's young social secretary, Letitia Baldrige, was assigned the task of organizing the event, which honored the President of Pakistan.

A Tiffany-blue tent was special ordered, complete with a canary yellow lining, and the National Symphony Orchestra was booked to play on the lawn. The President arrived at the Mount Vernon wharf on PT-109, the boat he captained during the war.

The event was a smash hit, although the costs were extravagant, and, by today's standards, security was far more relaxed than it should have been.

Recent Presidential Visits

Ronald and Nancy Reagan (MVLA)

President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan came by helicopter to commemorate George Washington's Birthday. He delivered a speech to a crowd of about 300 to mark the 250th anniversary of Washington's birth.

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In 1982, George H. W. Bush brought King Hussein of Jordan for a quick tour of the Mansion in 1989. His son, George W. Bush, visited Mount Vernon several times. Once, to meet with the new president of France, Nicholas Sarkozy.

First Lady Hilary Clinton visited Mount Vernon in 1999 when she hosted a luncheon for the spouses of governors who had come to Washington for the annual meeting of the National Governors’ Association. First Lady Michelle Robinson Obama also visited Mount Vernon in 2009 with her daughters Malia and Sasha and her mother Marian Robinson to explore and admire the gardens. 

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US Presidents at Mount Vernon

1789
2017
George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
Andrew Jackson
James K. Polk
Millard Fillmore
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Rutherford B. Hayes
Benjamin Harrison
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Gerald Ford
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
Barack Obama

TERM OF OFFICE: 1789-1797

George Washington

1st President of the United States. After retirement, George Washington spent his final years at his beloved home.

John Adams

2nd President of the United States.

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Thomas Jefferson

3rd President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon on January 3, 1801 to pay a condolence call on Martha Washington who was greiving the recent death of her husband.

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Andrew Jackson

7th President of the United States. Visited in November of 1815.

James K. Polk

11th President of the United States. Came to Mount Vernon in June 1845 with his wife, Sarah Childress Polk and former First Lady, Dolley Payne Madison.

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Millard Fillmore

13th President of the United States. Visited in March 1851.

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James Buchanan

15th President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon in 1860 with the Prince of Wales.

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Abraham Lincoln

16th President of the United States. In 1862, during the Civil War, Lincoln came to Mount Vernon via steam boat down the Potomac River.

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Rutherford B. Hayes

19th President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon on Saturday, May 18, 1878 with his wife.

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Benjamin Harrison

23rd President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon in May of 1889.

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William McKinley

25th President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon on Thursday, December 14, 1899 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of George Washington's death.

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Theodore Roosevelt

26th President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon many times with his family.

William Howard Taft

27th President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon in 1912 to place a wreath at Washington's tomb.

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Woodrow Wilson

28th President of the United States. Visited several times, including a grandiose Independence Day celebration in 1918.

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Calvin Coolidge

30th President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon twice during his administration.

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Herbert Hoover

31st President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon on Washington's 198th birthday in 1930, and again, two years later, on the 200th.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

32nd President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon on May 15, 1933 and many other occasions.

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Harry S. Truman

33rd President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon in 1947.

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Dwight D. Eisenhower

34th President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon in 1958.

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John F. Kennedy

35th President of the United States. Hosted a state dinner at Mount Vernon for President Ayub Khan of Pakistan on Tuesday, July 11, 1961.

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Lyndon B. Johnson

36th President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon in 1961.

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Gerald Ford

38th President of the United States. Visited Mount Vernon in 1961 as a Congressman and gain in 1976 during his presidency.

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Ronald Reagan

40th President of the United States. Came to Mount Vernon on Monday, February 22, 1982 with First Lady Nancy Reagan to commemorate the 250th birthday of George Washington.

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George H. W. Bush

41st President of the United States. Landed the presidential helicopter on the Bowling Green on Wednesday, April 19, 1989.

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George W. Bush

43rd President of the United States. Paid a visit with Mrs. Bush on the Presidents’ Day holiday in 2007; came back in November of the same year to meet with the new president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. LEARN MORE

Barack Obama

44th President of the United States. Barack Obama has never been to Mount Vernon. However, First Lady Michelle Obama, her daughters Malia and Sasha, and her mother Marian Robinson visited the Mount Vernon estate in August 2009.

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The complexity of presidential visits has certainly changed over the years, as security concerns have heightened, media coverage has intensified, and the president's schedule has become much less his own. The idea of the presidential family spending a lazy afternoon on Washington's front lawn seems like a throwback to a different time and place. But rest assured that many former presidents - Teddy Roosevelt among them - would have probably said it was a better time and place.

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