These are all the U.S. presidents who have visited San Luis Obispo County that I have found records on. All except Nixon and Reagan came by rail. The last three would be elected president after their visits. I am not sure if Gerald Ford ever visited here, his son, actor Steven Ford is a county resident.
I recently made a joke about anarchists advertising but today they would be on a terrorist watch list. One of their number was responsible for the murder of President William McKinley leading to his Vice President Teddy Roosevelt assuming the office.
The Morning Tribune noted the May 9, 1903 Roosevelt visit was carried out with precision. The train pulled in from Santa Barbara at 5:30 p.m. The band played the Star Spangled Banner after which the door opened and Judge E.P. Unangst and Mayor McD.R. Venable ushered the President to the rear platform of the train. The President bowed to a cheering crowd and a group of ten carriages took the party to the Mission for a tour where Roosevelt was introduced to Father Aguilera.
At six the Mission bells tolled the hour and the party drove to a reviewing stand at a park down Broad and Higuera Streets. The President spoke for 15 minutes, returned to the train and at exactly 6:30 the train pulled out, the hour allotted to San Luis Obispo was done. He would stop in Paso Robles for another speech that evening before leaving the county.
Roosevelt gave a feel good speech expressing his admiration for the state, local agriculture, Cal Poly and veterans.
The article included the full text of the speech excerpted here, under a headline that read:
PRESIDENT WAS MOST
There Was Not a Hitch Nor a Halt Nor an
Accident and Everybody
Mr. Chairman, and you, my fellow citizens–It is indeed a great pleasure to have the chance of meeting you this afternoon. For three days now I have been traveling through your wonderful and beautiful state, and I marvel at its fertility. And, I am not surprised to see you looking happy, I should be ashamed of you if you didn’t (Applause).
I have forgotten of all of the records that you have in the county, but I know that the largest pumpkins, watermelons and onions created are here, so that your agricultural products have made a name for themselves to be feared. And of course in stock raising, in dairying, the county stands equally preeminent.
And I am glad to learn that the state of California is erecting here a Polytechnic Institute for scientific training in the arts of farm life, and more than that, our people have awakened to the fact that farming is not only a practical but a scientific pursuit, and that there should be the same chance for the tiller of the soil to make of his a learned profession that there is in any other business.
We have passed the stage as a nation when we can afford to tolerate the men whose aim it is merely to skim the soil, and go on and skim the country and take off the cream and go on; our aim must be upon the laws promotive of irrigation, upon the laws securing the wise use in the perpetuity of the foresees, upon the laws shaped in every way to promote the predominant interests of the country; our aim must be to hand over to our children not an impoverished but an improved country. We wish to hand over our country to our children in better shape, not any worse shape than we ourselves got it.
That is common sense isn’t it?
It is a mighty good thing to raise such produce as you have raised on your farms, it is a better thing to bring up such children as I have been seeing here today, and I congratulate you on their quality and on their quantity. (Applause.)
I claim to be more or less an expert in them, I have got six myself. (Applause.)
I come to you today, I come to you with an ever increased faith in the future of our country, in the future of America, and I believe in you. I believe in you men and women of California, men and women of America, of the United States, because I feel that you are not only sound in body and sound in mind, but that you have that which counts for more than body, for more than mind–character! Character in which many different elements enter, in which above all elements, are those of decency, of courage and of common sense.
Good bye and good luck to you.
Later in the day he would give a speech in Paso Robles and spend the night at the Hotel Del Monte in Monterey.
When conservative Republicans list their great presidents they often leave the progressive Teddy Roosevelt off. Perhaps his fifth cousin Franklin soured them on the Roosevelt name. Perhaps it was bolting from the party to found the Bull Moose party and spoiling another Republican’s presidential bid. In a party that claims to like mavericks he is about as mavericky as you can get.
An abbreviated list of accomplishments:
Youngest President at age 42.
A war hero who stormed San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish American War.
Built the Panama Canal (after fomenting a revolution that split Panama from Colombia.)
The Modern American Navy
Peace making between Russia and Japan which won him the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dissolved 40 monopolistic corporations to enable competition
Established federal oversight of food processing
The first conservationist president, preserving 5 national parks, 18 national monuments and millions of acres of national forest.
Teddy Bears? Named after the 26th President.
Mount Rushmore, that’s him next to Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson
On the train there were photographers from the San Francisco newspapers, The Bulletin, Call and Examiner. Perhaps they have dusty negatives on their shelves. I’d sure like to see a photo from San Luis Obispo. Tribune Editor Benjamin Brooks was a member of the reception committee. The list of names include business men Capt. Jas. Cass, H.M.Warden, W.H. Warden, Norman Sandercock, B.Sinsheimer, O.Sinsheimer and Sheriff Yancy McFaddin.