Has there been a year in recent memory with more interest in the presidents of the United States? Between the January 2013 inauguration ceremonies and the release of Steven Spielberg’s critically acclaimed Lincoln, “all things presidential” have piqued traveller’s interests. Now we’re making it easy to brush off your history books and come up with fantastic travel suggestions to fit a very presidential theme.
More Presidents have come from Virginia than from any other U.S. state.It’s an impressive list, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson.
A must-see stop is Monticello, the architectural masterpiece of Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson’s mountaintop plantation near Charlottesville is the only home in America recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site (over 90 per cent of the house is original construction). Guided tours of the house are offered daily throughout the year; outdoor gardens and plantation tours are offered daily April to October. Monticello’s special 2013 celebrations include marking the 270th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth (April 12) and Historic Garden Week in Virginia (April 20-27). www.monticello.org
Stops along Kentucky’s Lincoln Heritage Trail tell the background story of Abraham Lincoln, the president who led the country through the challenges and trials of the American Civil War. Historical highlights along the trail include Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park (including his boyhood home at Knob Creek), Lincoln Homestead State Park and the Lincoln Museum featuring a dozen dioramas of pivotal times in the life of the 16th president of the United States. The Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington was the family home of Lincoln’s future wife. In 1977, her girlhood home opened to the public and became the first house museum in America to honour a First Lady. www.kentuckytourism.com/maps/lincoln-map.aspx www.kentuckytoursim.com
In Todd County, the Jefferson Davis Birthplace State Historic Site marks the birthplace of the only president of the Confederate United States. In 2013, the site commemorates the 205th birthday of Davis, with historical displays and two battle re-enactments. All events are free, except for monument/museum tours. www.parks.ky.gov/parks/historicsites/jefferson-davis/default.aspx
Three former presidents – Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter – all have significant ties to Georgia.
The Jimmy Carter National Historic Site and Boyhood Farm chronicles the beginning of Jimmy Carter’s legacy in Plains, Georgia (www.nps.gov/jica). In Atlanta, the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum – part of the Presidential Library system – showcases photographs and historical memorabilia from the Carter presidency, including an exact replica of the Oval Office. http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/
It was at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Little White House in Warm Springs that the nation’s 32nd president learned of the struggles of rural America, influencing many policies that are still in effect today. http://www.gastateparks.org/LittleWhiteHouse
The Boyhood Home of Woodrow Wilson, in downtown Augusta, serves as a house museum depicting the life of the 28th president as a boy growing up in Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction. http://www.wilsonboyhoodhome.org/
New York City served as a strategic centre of the American independence movement, the site of the nation’s first capital and the setting for the first presidential inauguration.
City Hall in Lower Manhattanonce served as the backdrop for the viewing of Lincoln’s body after his assassination in 1865, when he lay in state on the marble staircase landing under the domed rotunda. More than 500,000 people waited in line to view the open casket.
Cooper Union, a privately funded college in Manhattan, has been the site of many famous pre-presidential orations, including Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 call for the abolition of slavery and Barack Obama’s 2008 speech on reforming the American economic system.
Three men from Tennessee have served in the role of president – Andrew Jackson, James Knox Polk and Andrew Johnson.
The Hermitage is the two-storey brick mansion and grounds built for Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president, and his family. The 1,000-acre National Landmark plantation is home to more than 30 historic buildings and is the most authentic and best-preserved early presidential home in the U.S. The site’s museum houses many artifacts of the family’s personal items, including the candle given to Jackson to commemorate the victory at New Orleans. www.thehermitage.com