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Massachusetts History: President’s Day Edition

Four U.S. Presidents were born in Massachusetts and many more lived here during their schooling, including eight graduates of Harvard University. Can you name them all?! [Answers at bottom of the post]. In honor of President’s Day, here are four of our favorite Massachusetts themed presidential stories:

Credit: Harvard University Library

1. In September 1902, Teddy Roosevelt was visiting Pittsfield, Massachusetts (in the Berkshire Hills), when a speeding trolley car struck his carriage. Roosevelt's vehicle careened nearly 40 feet, knocking the president onto the pavement and bruising the governor of Massachusetts, Winthrop Crane.

Unfortunately, Secret Service agent William Craig wasn’t so lucky. He got stuck under the train car and became the first U.S. Secret Service agent ever killed in the line of duty.

Credit: Lily Rugo

2. John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline, just minutes from downtown Boston. If you’re in the area, walk by the 35th president’s first family home, which is now a national historic site. Rose Kennedy re-purchased their former home on Beals Street to commemorate her late son, and set all the clocks in the house to just before 3pm, when Jack was born on May 29, 1917.

For more JFK history, his Presidential Library and Museum is worth the visit and we touch on a few Kennedy-related drinking tidbits on our Freedom Trail tour!

Credit: Heritage Auctions

3. In 1863, John Wilkes Booth bought property in the new Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. Booth was a national star and had performed in numerous local theater productions. He had yet to build a house on the property in April 1865, so he stayed at the Parker House during a stay in Boston.

Less than two weeks after his stay at the Parker House, Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. In a strange historical coincidence, the man who would later kill Booth, Boston Corbett, had undergone a religious conversion in Boston, changing his name to honor the city where he became a new man.

Learn more about the history of the Parker House in just one minute here.

Credit: Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library

4. Most Americans don’t know much about “Silent Cal” Coolidge, our 30th president, but he was born in New England, attended Amherst College in Western Massachusetts, and served in the Massachusetts legislature and governor’s office before heading to Washington, D.C.

As governor, he presided over an important moment in Boston history – the 1919 Boston Police Strike. When over three quarters of the police force publicly announced a strike over the right to form a union for better working conditions, chaos ensued. Eight people died over four days of violent commotion. The strike ended when Coolidge put Boston under martial law for the first time since the Revolutionary War.

Crushing the strike launched Coolidge into the national spotlight and led the way for his selection as Warren G. Harding’s running mate in the 1920 presidential election.


Trivia Answers:

U.S. Presidents Born in Massachusetts: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John F. Kennedy, George H.W. Bush

Harvard Graduates: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush, Barack Obama


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