Featured The Life and Presidency of Harry S. Truman
The White House Historical Association’s 2018 White House Christmas Ornament honors Harry S. Truman, the thirty-third president of the United St...
No sport created more excitement, enthusiasm and interest in the colonial period and the early republic than horse racing. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson took immense pride in their horses and bred them to improve the bloodlines of saddle, work, carriage and racehorses. Early presidents loved horse racing, the most popular sport in America at that time.
George Washington, considered by his peers as the best horseman of his era, helped organize races in Alexandria, Virginia, and frequently attended race meetings throughout the region. Jefferson rarely missed the meets at the National Race Course in Washington, D.C., which opened just outside the city boundary two miles north of the White House in 1802. The best horses in the country competed there into the 1840s, and the Jockey Club dinner and ball, a highlight of the social season, concluded the meeting.
Andrew Jackson's passion for horse racing and gambling was renowned and he once fought a duel over an argument sparked by a wager. Jackson bred racehorses at the Hermitage and operated a racing stable from the White House during his presidency. It was an open secret that Jackson entered runners in the name of his nephew and private secretary Andrew J. Donelson. Ulysses S. Grant was the last president actively involved in horse racing. He bred Arabians and loved mounting a sulky and driving trotters at high speed down Pennsylvania Avenue.
One day at the National Race Course in Washington, D.C., President Andrew Jackson took Vice President Martin Van Buren up to the course to watch Busiris train. General Callender Irvine owned and stabled Busiris with Jackson when he raced in Washington. While on the track the horse became unruly and Jackson shouted, "Get behind me, Mr. Van Buren. He will run you over!" For a long time afterwards, newspapers and cartoonists used this incident to ridicule Van Buren's reliance on Jacksons fatherly political support. The faces of William Henry Harrison, Martin Van Buren, Daniel Webster and Hugh Lawson White have been