Archive for Monday, August 9, 2004

Lawrence has drawn politicians, presidents

August 9, 2004


Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards' visit Sunday brought back memories of other prominent politicians' trips to Lawrence.

In 1968, presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy gave a stirring speech in front of 19,000 people at Allen Fieldhouse. The visit took place just days after Kennedy announced his candidacy for president.

Over the years, two sitting presidents and two future presidents have visited the city.

The sitting presidents were Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Both stops were brief, with speeches given from the back of trains.

According to an article online at, Wilson's stop in 1916 lasted three minutes and 45 seconds. A crowd of 4,500 showed up in 10-degree weather to listen.

Roosevelt stopped briefly in 1904, but came back in 1910 to dedicate the horse watering fountain now in South Park.

Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford visited Lawrence as former presidents. Clinton came this spring to deliver the inaugural Dole Lecture at KU. Carter was in Lawrence last summer for the dedication of the Dole Institute. Ford came in 1978 for the dedication of the new KU law school building, Green Hall.

John F. Kennedy and George H.W. Bush came to Lawrence before each became president. Kennedy spoke at a KU convocation in 1957 while still a U.S. senator. Hoch Auditorium overflowed with 4,000 people for the speech. Bush gave the Vickers Memorial Lecture in 1976 when he was director of the CIA.

Abraham Lincoln traveled through northeast Kansas during the first week of December in 1859. He never visited Lawrence but stayed in a house near Tonganoxie. Lincoln was in Kansas the day abolitionist John Brown was executed.

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