1914, 1915, 1917, and 1918
President Woodrow Wilson came out to Mount Vernon on several occasions. Mount Vernon Superintendent Harrison Howell Dodge describes one visit, which occurred during World War I, as such:
President Woodrow Wilson several times honored Mount Vernon by his presence, but quite the most spectacular event in which he took part was on the Fourth of July, 1918, when he brought as his guests, on [Presidential yacht] the Mayflower, fifty or more delegates representing the thousands of foreign-born citizens of the United States, wishing, by this public commemoration of our Declaration of Independence, to testify their loyalty to America. Each delegate bore a handsome wreath distinguished by his respective national colors, the collection quite filling the Tomb.
It was estimated that nearly 20,000 persons were present on that notable day: “The Star Spangled Banner” was sung by John McCormack, who insisted on being accompanied by a Steinway Grand piano. The instrument, so inappropriate beside the Tomb of Washington, was entirely screened from view by hastily planted cedars.
President Wilson gave an address that day, comparing the efforts of Washington and the founding fathers to the battlefields of Europe in the World War. His speech references the importance of Mount Vernon as a location several times, noting that the estate seemed untouched by the modern world. His remarks began:
I am happy to draw apart with you to this quiet place of old counsel in order to speak a little of the meaning of this day of our nation’s independence. The place seems very still and remote. It is as serene and untouched by the hurry of the world as it was in those great days long ago when General Washington was here and held leisurely conference with the men who were to be associated with him in the creation of a nation. From these gentle slopes they looked out upon the world and saw it whole, saw it with the light of the future upon it, saw it with modern eyes that turned away from a past which men of liberated spirits could no longer endure.