President's Day: High Profile Connecticut Visits

Feb 17, 2014

"Connecticut has always been a kind of magnet for Presidents," says state historian Walt Woodward.

President George Washington

During the American Revolution, Washington came to Hartford and Wethersfield on two separate occasions to meet with the French Commander Rochambeau to plan the strategy that led to the American victory at Yorktown, the battle that effectively ended the American Revolution in 1789.

The Webb House, where they met, has been preserved as a museum. Today, it features a replica uniform and a table laid out the way it may have looked during their famed meetings.

During the Revolutionary War, Washington sacked out in many homes and inns across the state. He stayed at the home of Captain Nathaniel Shaw in New London, now a museum, which has a letter signed by Washington on display.

He also stayed at the Leffingwell Inn in Norwich. As President, our founding father spent the night in Windsor at the home of his Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth.

"Washington probably ended up with more frequent lodging points from Connecticut, than perhaps anywhere else," Woodward comments.

President Abraham Lincoln

Connecticut played a pivotal role on the campaign trail in 1860 for soon to be President Abraham Lincoln. He stayed at the swanky Wauregan Hotel in Norwich after swinging through the state following his electrifying Cooper Union Speech in New York that outlined his views on slavery.

President John F. Kennedy

Just two days before he was elected, John F. Kennedy campaigned throughout Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury, as thousands rallied the streets in support of this vibrant candidate.

"Kennedy's election was in some way like the election of Barack Obama. He was a Catholic running for president. We don't even think about that now but in 1960, that was a huge deal" says Woodward.

President Dwight Eisenhower

And in Tragedy, a president trekked to Connecticut. Following the flood of 1955, Dwight Eisenhower gathered the troops to deal with the devastating aftermath, meeting in a hangar at Bradley Field with all the New England Governors. 

Presidential Parties

Presidents also partied here. At the stunning Woodstock home of influential businessman Henry Bowen, called Roseland Cottage, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, and Rutherford Hayes, were frequent guests at the lavish Fourth of July parties held each year.

Even more impressive, our Presidents studied here. Connecticut's Yale University graduated 5 of America's Presidents.