The Great Presidential Road Trip
Have you ever wondered where our country’s leaders are buried? Are their graves ornate or simple? Are they buried in large cemeteries or in their family plots? Read below to learn more about some of the graves of 39 past Presidents of the United States.
When President George Washington died in December 1799 at the age of 67, it was read in his will that he wished to be entombed in the vault located on his family property of Mount Vernon, Virginia. However, the House and Senate felt that President Washington should be honored by erecting a marble monument, located in the United States Capitol, which would then serve as a crypt for the late president. Despite knowing her husbands wishes and her own beliefs, Martha Washington consented to the request of Congress to build a new crypt and move President Washington’s body. After nearly thirty-five years of back and forth in Congress about cost, material and what would be fitting for our nation’s first president, Congress once again appealed to the family in 1832 to move President Washington’s remains from Mount Vernon. Washington’s great nephew, who now owned Mount Vernon, denied the request and his body remains at rest at the family estate, Mount Vernon.
John Adams & John Quincy Adams
The first (and only one of two) father & son pair to both serve as President of the United States are buried side by side in the United First Parish Church in Quincy, MA. The elder Adams, who died on Independence Day, 1826 at the age of 90 was buried alongside his late wife and former first lady, Abigail Adams following a funeral service by Pastor Peter Whitney. John Quincy Adams, who was currently serving his presidency, did not hear the news of his father’s death until after the burial had taken place, largely due to the speed at which news was able to be passed along. The younger Adams, who lost his reelection in 1828 to Andrew Jackson, continued his political career until his death in 1848, after collapsing on the floor of the House of Representatives. He was laid to rest next to father, making them the only two presidents to be buried side by side.
President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C. as part of a larger conspiracy to revive the Confederate cause. His assassination, the first of any president, set forth a three week long series of events to mourn his death and memorialize his life. A procession, lying in state and a funeral were held in Washington, D.C. before President Lincoln’s body transported over 1600 miles to Springfield, Illinois. The trip spanned seven states and made several stops, where Americans gathered to pay their respects to the late president. The last stop was Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, where his burial service was held on May 4, 1865. The coffins of President Lincoln and his son, William, who died during his presidency were placed in a public receiving vault. Over the course of the next six years, a tomb is built for the Lincoln family and the late president’s coffin is officially placed in his final resting place on September 19, 1871.
President Woodrow Wilson served his terms of presidency from 1913-1921. Toward the end of his second term, President Wilson suffered a stroke, leaving him paralyzed on his left side and with limited vision in his right eye. After leaving office, President Wilson tried his hand at practicing law and writing, but he struggled as his health had not improved much since his first stroke. In fact, it began to rapidly decline in January of 1924 and after suffering a second stroke, Woodrow Wilson died on February 3, 1924, at the age of 67. At his wishes, services were held privately for his family, and he did not lie in state. President Wilson’s body was entombed in the National Cathedral, making him the only president to lay to rest in Washington D.C.
President Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004, following a nearly decade long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. At the time of his death, President Reagan was 93 years and 120 days old, the longest-living U.S. president until the passing President Gerald Ford two years later. President Reagan’s state funeral lasted seven days, first beginning with his transport to the Kingsley and Gates Funeral Home for preparation, then to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and ultimately to Washington D.C.. After his state funeral in Washington D.C., President Reagan’s body was flown on the VC 25-A Presidential Aircraft from Andrews Air Force Base to Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California for the final leg of his journey. In a service of 700 invited guests, President Ronald Reagan was finally laid to rest in a tomb at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
When a United States President dies, there are often varying degrees of pomp and circumstance. Some have had long state funerals and others have preferred simple, private affairs. Today’s blog touched on just a few of the gravesites of the 39 past United States Presidents who have died. Have you ever visited a presidential gravesite? Who else would you like to know about?