First Public Presidential Car Ride 

U.S. #296 – Issued in 1901 to commemorate the Pan-American Expo and World’s Fair in Buffalo, New York. President McKinley was assassinated at the fair, leading Theodore Roosevelt to become President.

Touring New England on August 22, 1902, Theodore Roosevelt became the first sitting President to publicly ride in an automobile.

Less than a year before, Roosevelt became America’s youngest President when his predecessor, William McKinley, was assassinated at the Pan-American Expo and World’s Fair. Roosevelt quickly became a leader in the Progressive Era and set about fulfilling his own political agenda.

Roosevelt proved popular among the people and toured often. In August 1902, he took a yacht to New Haven, Connecticut and then embarked on a state-wide tour in a Columbia Electric Victoria Phaeton automobile. It was the first time a sitting president publicly rode in a car. An estimated 20,000 people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the president and cheer him on as he passed by.

President Roosevelt made several stops along the way, including a visit to New Haven Coliseum, where he spoke before a crowd of 5,000. He also visited Hartford’s Pope Park, where he expressed his appreciation for the 10,000 workers there. Roosevelt noted, “I should, of course, be wholly unfit for the position I occupy if I did not give my best thoughts and best purpose to trying to serve the interests of the toiler of America – the man who works with his hands, and, of course, also the man who works with his head.”

U.S. #557

Because of the maximum speed of Roosevelt’s car (13 miles per hour), his police guards couldn’t keep up with him on foot. Instead, they rode bicycles, effectively creating America’s first presidential motorcade.

A pioneer and adventurer, Roosevelt had several other presidential firsts. These include the first to be submerged in a submarine, own a car, have a telephone in his home, and entertain an African American at the White House – Booker T. Washington. He also went on to become the first former president to fly in an airplane.

Click the images to add this history to your collection.

Did you like this article? Click here to rate:
Share this Article


  1. Great story was surprised to read about McKinley ‘s assassination at the world’s fair.TR was a great president.He would turn this country upside down if he were president today.

  2. This is a great series of historical items. Some I know about, but even those I find new information from these posts. Thank you for this information.

  3. I was born and raised in Taberg, NY, about 6 miles south of Camden, and graduated from Camden Central School in 1964. Mystic Stamp was just a small business back then, but nevertheless, had an excellent reputation from the small town in Upstate NY. Your company has grown to be THE source of stamps for collectors around the world. Your posting of This Day in History, highlighting the important events from the past that are supported by stamps issued in commemoration is an excellent example of how you folks ‘think out of the box’ to provide the highest level of service to your customers. Congratulations and keep it up!

  4. Wonderful story. Theodore Roosevelt is an excellent role model for our children. When I taught sixth grade reading, his life story was featured in the reading book. He is one of our heroes. Mystic is to be recognized for your love of American History. thank you.

  5. Where else would u find 8 firsts in a short synopsis. I like this series and enjoy it very much. My thanks to the creators of each article. Did you know TR also owned a ranch out west?

  6. Roosevelt’s predecessor, William McKinley, was the first president to ride in a car, but Roosevelt was the first to make it part of his official presidential duties when he toured Hartford, Connecticut in 1902.

  7. Technically, as others have noted, Teddy Roosevelt was not the first president to ride in a car. That distinction goes to William McKinley who after being shot at the World’s Fair in Buffalo was transferred to a hospital in a motorized vehicle.
    Does anyone know what kind of car it was? Gas vs. electric?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *