Monday, February 21, 2022

Who was the first president to visit Chicago?

No, it wasn't Abraham Lincoln

     When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, in the first wave of nauseating shock, my immediate, unfiltered thought was perhaps a strange one: Now he’s always going to be on presidential placemats. You know, those laminated arrays of placid white male faces peering out from oval frames: Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Trump.
     You can never unring that bell. Schoolchildren 100 years from now, assuming we still have a country, an increasingly shaky bet, will look at his leering orange visage and be presented the chirpy, sanitized tale that kids always get: Donald Trump, American Hero.
     Today being Presidents’ Day, it seemed appropriate to wonder if the White House has been so besmirched by a man utterly unfit for the office that the usual American affection and interest for presidents is gone. Did Donald Trump break the presidency? Who cares anymore about Washington’s false teeth or Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s stamp collection?
     (Though the story of FDR’s postal scandal is dear to my heart. Just like Trump larding the government with lackeys, FDR picked a croney, James Farley, as postmaster general. In the knee jerk currying of favor that defined politics, then and now, Farley pulled a few sheets of the 1933 Mother’s Day stamp off the presses before they had been gummed or perforated and gave one to his philatelist boss, never pausing to consider he was creating hugely valuable philatelic rarity. Word spread, outrage ensued, and the post office figured out an ingenious fix: issuing sheets of ungummed, imperforate stamps, making the president’s private boon available to all).
     See, that’s the thing about presidential history. It draws you in. The simplest question isn’t so simple.
     For instance: Who was the first president to visit Chicago?
     Go ahead, plug that query into Google. Nothing, right? Random stuff.

To continue reading, click here.


  1. Let's hope T**** never darkens our city's doors, ever.
    Unfortunately, his brainless children do come here, rarely thank goodness, apparently to visit that building he ruined by putting horrific name on the side in 20 foot tall letters.

  2. I tried plugging in "first sitting President to visit Chicago" and lo and behold, got 2 responses, both of which referenced (or stemmed from) Neil's column today in the Sun-Times.


    1. Look at me, asking an obvious question nobody seems to have asked before. Though I had one reader point out that Martin Van Buren may have come to Illinois as a soldier in the Blackhawk War. Which ain't quite the same.

  3. If he's stupid enough to visit Chicago, he deserves the riot that he'll get.


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.