Presidents in Tacoma

From September 16, 2014

I’m watching the Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelts and enjoying the many little known family visits to Tacoma which seem to be oddly missing from the film. President Theodore Roosevelt literally gave a stump speech in Wright Park in 1903 and then packed em in for a big talk to 30,000 at stadium in April 1911. FDR first visited on the campaign trail as Governor of New York in 1932 where he also charmed the crowds at the Puyallup Fair. He returned again in 1937 during the Depression where he met with Senator Homer T Bone to talk about hydroelectric dams. Tacoma’s pioneering enterprise in public power by building a citizen owned dam on the Nisqually is recognized as a model for FDR’s New Deal dams, irrigation and power projects on the Columbia. Eleanor made one of the most timely Tacoma visits of any Roosevelt visiting the city for the first time on December 12, 1941. Just 4 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor she made a point of meeting with Tacoma’s Japanese American community and then warned in her newspaper column, “My Day”, that turning against your neighbor because of his race is a sign of fear not patriotism. FRD’s last visit to Tacoma was during the darkest days of World War 2 on a secret trip that was hidden from the press and the public. Because he was traveling in a private railroad car, the telegraph operator and station master at Union Station were among the only people in the world who knew where the President of the United States was. They never told.


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