Presidents’ Day in Lowell

Contemporary readers might be surprised to learn that of the 47 individuals who have served as President of the United States, at least 15 of them have visited Lowell. Below is my list of the names and dates of these visits. If anyone knows of anymore, please let us know in the comments section.

Following the list is a portion of the Introduction to Legendary Locals of Lowell, the 2013 book I co-authored with Chaim M. Rosenberg. It describes the 1833 visit of Andrew Jackson and gives a sense of why so many important people visited the city in its earlier days.

(If you want to see more of Legendary Locals, the Pollard Memorial Library has a copy and it’s also available for purchase online).

Presidents who have visited Lowell

Andrew Jackson, our 7th president (1829-1837) visited Lowell on June 26-27, 1833 while serving as President

Martin Van Buren, our 8th president (1837-1841) while serving as Vice President, accompanied Jackson to Lowell in 1833

John Tyler, our 10th president (1841-1845) visited Lowell on June 19, 1843 while serving as President

James Polk, our 11th President (1845-1849), visited Lowell on June 30, 1847 while serving as President

Franklin Pierce, our 14th President (1853-1857) visited Lowell multiple times (he had relatives living here)

Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President (1861-1865) visited Lowell on September 18, 1848 while serving as a Congressman from Illinois to campaign for Zachary Taylor for President.

Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th President (1869-1877) visited Lowell on December 4, 1868 while still an Army general

Benjamin Harrison, our 23rd President (1889-1893) visited Lowell on August 15, 1889 while serving as President

Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th President (1901-1909) came to Lowell several times including April 29, 1912

William Howard Taft, our 27th President (1909-1913), visited Lowell on April 29, 1912 while serving as president

Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President (1923-1929) visited Lowell on September 21, 1922 while serving as Vice President for the Lowell Memorial Auditorium dedication

Franklin D. Roosevelt, our 32nd President (1933-1945), visited Lowell but it’s not clear when

Harry Truman, our 33rd President (1945-1953), visited Lowell on October 16, 1952 for a campaign stop at the Depot

John Kennedy, our 35th President (1961-1963) visited Lowell as a Senator and as a Congressman

Bill Clinton, our 42nd President (1992-2000) visited Lowell twice, once as President (in 1998? for a Marty Meehan fundraiser) and again in 2007 as an ex-president for a Niki Tsongas rally.


From the Introduction to Legendary Locals of Lowell

On June 26, 1833, President Andrew Jackson came to Lowell, a town not yet 10 years old. Travelling by coach from Salem, he arrived late in the day to a huge welcoming ceremony. A delegation of political leaders and military units met him at the Tewksbury line. As they processed down Church Street towards the center of town, a formation of 2,500 mill girls, all dressed in white, emerged from High Street and fell in behind the president. Turning onto Central and then Merrimack Streets, the parade paused at Dutton to deposit the president and his entourage which included future presidents Martin Van Buren and Franklin Pierce at a reviewing stand in front of the Merrimack House Hotel where a Hess gas station now stands. The president watched the entire parade pass in review. The next day he toured the Merrimack Manufacturing Company and expressed great surprise and pleasure at the favorable conditions under which the mill girls worked.

From the receipt of its town charter in 1826 up to the start of the Civil War, Lowell was one of the most important places in America. Andrew Jackson was not the only VIP to visit. Others included Charles Dickens, Davey Crockett, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay and presidents John Tyler and James Polk. They came here to see the first planned industrial city in America, the place where all the constituent parts of the Industrial Revolution – the accumulation of capital, the physical plant for large scale manufacturing, the power needed to run the machines and a skilled workforce valued by the employers – all came together in one place for the very first time.

National politicians and international celebrities were not alone in coming to Lowell. The town – it became a city in 1836 – was a magnet for those with talent, energy and drive. It was the Silicon Valley of 19th century America. The Lowell experiment created a critical mass of people, money and opportunity and it gave many who started with nothing the opportunity to use their energy and imagination to make very successful lives for themselves and their families in management, banking, the professions, government and many other fields. Such success only strengthened the bond between these individuals and the city which is a phenomenon that continues to this day and explains, in part at least, Lowell’s recent success.