According to research from University Archivist Dan Linke, at least 26 American presidents have visited Princeton, including 12 of the 18 presidents who served in the 20th century. Below, read some of the highlights of presidential coverage in PAW since the magazine’s founding in 1900.
In March 1907, when undergraduates visited the nearby home of Grover Cleveland to present a loving cup in honor of his 70th birthday, the former president “made a very appreciative address of acceptance and shook hands with each of the students,” PAW wrote. Cleveland, the ex-president most connected to Princeton, delivered an address at the University’s sesquicentennial in 1896 and then moved to town following the second of his nonconsecutive terms in office. He became a University trustee in 1901, and a few years after his death in 1908, the tower at the Graduate College was dedicated in his name. Cleveland’s son, Richard, was a member of the Class of 1919.
When alumnus and former University president Woodrow Wilson 1879 won the nation’s highest office in November 1912, the news “was jubilantly celebrated in Princeton,” according to PAW. “President Hibben ordered the bell rung and the national flag raised on Nassau Hall, suspended the exercises of the University and made Wednesday a holiday…” Undergraduates marched to Wilson’s home on Cleveland Lane, where he greeted visitors on his front porch and made his first address as president-elect. Wilson was inaugurated March 4, 1913 — 100 years to the day after James Madison 1771’s second inaugural.
President George H.W. Bush was on campus at Princeton Reunions in 1948 as captain of the visiting Yale baseball team. His May 1991 return came with fanfare of a different sort. Dedicating the new Fisher/Bendheim social sciences building, Bush dominated the headlines. (He was appearing in public for the first time after a minor health scare a week earlier.) “Devotees of the building, designed by Princeton’s favorite architect, Robert Venturi ’47 *50, needn’t worry,” PAW wrote. “Nearby Robertson Hall, home to the Woodrow Wilson School, was similarly upstaged by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, the last time a sitting president visited. But the Wilson School’s since made a name for itself.”