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The Presidential Life Through Newspapers

The life of the President of the United States is always in the public eye. Everything from deaths, marriages, elections, and their pets have made the news. In honor of Presidents’ Day, take a look at some of the incredible stories from historical newspapers in our collection at NewspaperArchive about the men who have occupied this prestigious office.

The Deaths of Presidents
Eloquently written in words and phrases of a forgotten age is the news of George Washington’s death in 1799. The Maryland Gazette captured his passing with phrases like, “It is our painful duty to announce to our country, and to the world, the death of General George Washington,” and “On Wednesday last, the mortal part of Washington the great – the father of his country and the friend of man, was consigned to the tomb, with solemn honours and funeral pomp.”

“Thomas Jefferson is no more!” announced the Phenix Gazette in Alexandria. The publication dedicated more than an entire page of the four-page publication to Jefferson’s life, accomplishments, and death. Readers will find a list of five resolutions by the Governor and Council of the State of Virginia to honor the deceased, including wearing badges of mourning for one month.

Youngest & Oldest
To claim the Oval Office as your own, a person must be at least 35 years old; however, the age range spans more than 35 years at the start of the presidency. Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest. When President McKinley was assassinated, Teddy took over when he was just shy of his 43rd birthday. Our oldest president, Joe Biden, took the office at 78 years old.

Several past presidents, blessed with longevity, reached their 90th birthday milestone and more: Herbert Hoover, John Adams, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush. However, at the ripe old age of 97, Jimmy Carter is the oldest living president in our history. The former president and first lady celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in 2021 at their home in Plains, Georgia.

White House Nuptials
Only one president has ever been married at the White House. In 1886, Grover Cleveland married “Frank” Clare Folsom in a “quiet and unostentatious ceremony in the Blue Room of the Executive Mansion.” The Crawford Avalanche covered the event on the front page of their June 10th edition, including a biographical sketch of the bride. 

Elections & Inaugurations
Elections and the subsequent swearing-in ceremonies fill the pages of newspapers. A 1904 issue of the Burlington Hawk-Eye declared “A Tremendous Landslide for Roosevelt” with a striking front page illustration of Teddy and his running mate Charles Fairbanks.

Inauguration coverage from 1901 included an “official program of the day” when William McKinley took office with an illustration of the new president and his new running mate, Theodore Roosevelt.

“Thousands See Taft Made President” captured his inauguration day and illustrations of Taft and his running mate, James Sherman. A weather report declared a “Bad Day for Inauguration” from Washington with severe sleet and raging snowstorms forcing the momentous occasion to be held in the Senate chamber.

White House Pets – Including Children?!
Dogs and cats are always popular pets; however, the White House has housed a menagerie of animals. The Sunday Star from 1929 reported the newest pet purring its way through the Executive Mansion and pictures of various pets “domiciled” there during different presidencies.

Marguerite Marshall, author of the article “White House Pets During the Last Fifty Years,” included pets as those “both human and animal.” Readers can discover the pets of the presidents and their children. 

Learn More
NewspaperArchive’s collection is chock full of incredible content covering all facets of the presidents and their lives.

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