Foreign Travel Was Once Taboo for American PresidentsBreaking News
tags: presidents, Trump, Foreign Travel
One of the jobs of being a modern U.S. president is to make official state visits abroad. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama visited dozens of countries during their respective terms, and Donald Trump is poised to do the same. Yet during the 1800s, the idea of a U.S. president making even one or two international visits—let alone over 50—was unheard of.
Part of the reason early presidents didn’t leave the country has to do with the transportation available at the time. It took Woodrow Wilson, one of the first presidents to make an official visit abroad, nine days to sail to Europe in 1918. Four decades later, it only took Dwight D. Eisenhower nine hours to make the same trip by jet, notes scholar Richard Ellis in his book Presidential Travel.
But slow transportation wasn’t the sole reason 19th century presidents stayed in the U.S. As Ellis—a professor of politics at Willamette University—writes in his book, there was also a strong taboo against presidents going abroad and associating with European monarchs.
“The taboo against foreign travel by a president owed its staying power to the continuing hold that the republican fear of monarchical pomp and power had on the American imagination,” he writes. “A president who traveled abroad, Americans feared, would be invited to visit palaces and courts, to exchange pleasantries and genuflections with kings and queens.”
comments powered by Disqus
- Did Squanto meet Pocahontas in London?
- Thanksgiving: Early Colonists Ate Turkey... But Also Horses, Rats And Snakes, Archaeologists Say
- Sources: McMaster Mocked Trump’s Intelligence at a Private Dinner
- The JFK assassination files lead back to Seattle
- Princeton investigates its connection to slavery at a two-day symposium
- OAH historians say events of the past year show they were right to emphasize freedom as the theme of the 2019 annual convention
- Why being a historian is about so much more than producing displays for museums
- Historian Says Textbooks Have Shaped Our Attitudes On Race
- Heather Ann Thompson says what went on at Attica is worse than we thought
- Princeton’s Jan T. Gross warns that Poland’s showing signs of turning decisively in a fascist direction