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Archive for October 23rd, 2013

Even United States presidents get motoring to Harper’s Ferry to enjoy the view!

The Washington Post reported on October 17, 1915 (WILSON AT OLD INN, Motors to Harpers Ferry and Country Dinner is Served, TIPS WAITRESS WHEN HE PAYS) that President Wilson and his fiance, Mrs. Norman Galt, along with his cousins, Misses Lucy and Mary Smith of New Orleans motored to Harper’s Ferry for lunch.  (NYT version here.)

“The party left the White House yesterday morning without telling even White House officials where they were going. It was raining and the roads were muddy, but the holiday makers were not to be discouraged, and noon found the White House car at Harpers Ferry, 72 miles away. At an inn overlooking the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers the President registered, writing ‘Woodrow Wilson and party.’ “

And what inn was this? Hill Top House, of course!

“Hill Top House is run by Thomas Lovett, who took the greatest pleasure in escorting the party over the hotel, taking them on to the great balcony, where can be seen the beautiful country for miles around, including numerous points of historical interest. It happened that it will be 56 years today since the famous John Brown started his raiding at Harpers Ferry.”

They were served a dinner in the main dining room which sounds delicious! Roast lamb, fried chicken, boiled ham, creamed rice and corn dodgers the “well-known southern corn cakes.” President Wilson paid for the meal himself and tipped the waitress, Martha Smith.

Later that evening, the Woodrow Wilson party attended a performance of George Bernard Shaw‘s Androcles and the Lion at the Belasco in Washington, DC.

There you have it! Another reason to visit Harper’s Ferry this weekend!

P.S. The visit to Harper’s Ferry may not have been entirely coincidental. President Wilson was initially supported by W.E.B. Du Bois, as well as many other African American leaders, but President Wilson introduced segregationist policies for federal government employment. Woodrow Wilson has been identified as the presidential candidate who greatly encouraged African American voters to leave the Republican Party and join the Democratic Party. Another Niagara Movement participant figured in Woodrow Wilson’s policies toward African Americans, William Monroe Trotter. In July 1915, United States forces invaded Haiti which drew a lot of criticism from Du Bois. 

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