A Trip Through Presidential History


Barack Obama will have served two terms as president by 2016, so one thing we can be certain of, and even bet on, is that it’ll have a new incumbent after the next election. The field of potential candidates as of March 2014 is huge, and encompasses a range of people from Hillary Clinton to Sarah Palin; if either of these two win, it’ll be a second historic presidency in a row; the first black president followed by the first woman. For people fascinated by US history, a tour of sites associated with some of the 44 Commanders-In-Chief since George Washington can make an excellent vacation. Here we’ll have a look at some of the best spots to visit.

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon

Washington retired to Mount Vernon, a plantation estate in Fairfax County, Virginia, after leaving office in 1797. The house was saved from destruction in the mid 19th century, and today it’s a National Historic Landmark. Its saviors, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, continue to run it as a non-profit organization, and it’s a must-visit destination for US history buffs. The house itself faces the Potomac River.

Oak Ridge Cemetery

Abraham Lincoln was the man who brought the country through a horrific civil war, managing to hold onto the union and abolish slavery in the process. Having been born into a penniless farming family, he’s many peoples’ idea of the archetypal president: a self-made man. His tomb, an impressive construction at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, is also a National Historic Monument; visitors can rub the nose of the bust of Lincoln for good luck.


Sixth Floor Museum


More than fifty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, conspiracy theories about the events of November 22nd 1963 continue to resonate. The Texas School Book Depository, from which Lee Harvey Oswald is said to have fired the shots that killed the president, is on Elm Street in Dallas, facing Dealey Plaza. It’s now the Dallas County Administration Building, but the Sixth Floor Museum will be of great interest to people on both sides of the conspiracy debate.



Finally, a destination with less noble (if no less interesting) associations, the Watergate Complex in Washington DC. Richard Nixon’s presidency ended in disgrace in 1974 after a burglary at the Democratic National Committee’s HQ was found to have been the work of his henchmen. The promise of Nixon’s first term, in which he ended US involvement in Vietnam and opened the door for dialogue with China and Soviet Russia, as well as ending the south’s racial segregation policies and overseeing the early days of the Space Shuttle, was forgotten – at least for a while. The complex lacks a visitor centre, but makes an interesting stop on a tour of history-packed Washington.

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