What the Presidents Did On the Fourth of July

Researched by James Heintze. All rights reserved

This chronology gives information on what the presidents were doing on the Fourth of July,
but only during their tenures as presidents.  Of course, many of the presidents remained in the
public eye after leaving office, giving speeches and participating in a variety of activities. 
Information on some of the significant post-office activities may be found in the general
chronology.  You will notice that many of the dates have not been filled in.  That is because
the research is ongoing.  Please check back periodically as this chronology is expanded. 
Information on the presidents and the Fourth of July was researched in various newspapers,
including the National Intelligencer, New York Times, Washington Post, 
as well as other sources (Jim Heintze)

George Washington

1789- Washington is in New York and is ill but writes a letter to the New York State's Society of the Cinncinati letting that organization know that he received their congratulations. (Writings of George Washington. Ed. John C. Fitzpatrick. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1939, 30:353); Federal Gazette, and Philadelphia Evening Post, 8 July 1789, 2.

1790- Washington is in New York on the Fourth attending services at Trinity Church. (Writings of George Washington, 31:67). However, the actual celebration occurs on the 5th. Together with members of Congress and other officials, Washington attends a celebration held at St. Paul's Chapel. On that day he also receives many guests. (Diaries of George Washington (1748-1799). Ed. John C. Fitzpatrick. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1925, 4:135-36)

1791- Washington is in Lancaster, Pa. giving an address, dining, and walking "about the town." (NYT, 5 July 1931, 2N; Diaries of George Washington 4:203-04)


1793- Washington is home at Mount Vernon writing a letter to the Secretary of State; on that day he also attends a public celebration in Alexandria, Va. (Writings of George Washington, 33:2-3)


1795- Washington is in Philadelphia

1796- Washington is at Mount Vernon writing letters to the Secretaries of State and Treasury and he also attends a public celebration in Alexandria, Va. (Writings of George Washington, 35:113-18, 125)

John Adams

1797- Adams is in Philadelphia where the Society of the Cincinnati and House of Representatives "and a great concorse of citizens" waited on him. "The volunteer corps pertook of a cold collation prepared for them in the President's garden, drank his health with three huzzas, and then filed off thro' the House."

1798- Adams is in Philadelphia reviewing a parade of military companies and later that afternoon receiving and entertaining guests

1799- President Adams is at the Old South Meeting House in Boston listening to an oration presented by John Lowell, Jr.

1800- the President is in Quincy, Massachusetts

Thomas Jefferson

1801- Jefferson hosts the first public Fourth of July Executive Mansion reception.

1802- The President is in Washington receiving guests.

1803- The President holds a reception at the Executive Mansion between the hours of 12 and 2 p.m. for the various heads of departments, foreign ministers, military officers, and others. He also reviews a military parade.

1804- The President hosts a reception with refreshments at the Executive Mansion and reviews a military parade.

1805- The President holds a reception at the Executive Mansion to the sounds of "a powerful band of music, playing patriotic airs at short intervals."

1806- Jefferson hosts a reception at the Executive Mansion.

1807- The President "standing in the north portico" of the Executive Mansion reviews a military parade and thereafter receives the officers, and opens the Mansion for guests.

1808- The President hosts a reception at the Executive Mansion and reviews a military parade.

James Madison

1809- Madison is in the Executive Mansion entertaining guests, including various "Heads of Departments."

1810- The President attends the ceremony in the Baptist Meeting House in Washington and hears an oration given by Robert Polk there. Following, the President entertains the assemblage at the Executive Mansion.

1811- Madison attends a church on F street, reviews a military parade, and entertains guests in the Executive Mansion.

1812- The President attends a ceremony held in the Capitol and then returns to the Executive Mansion to review a military parade and to entertain guests.

1813- Madison is ill and the "President's Mansion" is closed to the public for entertainments (the Fourth fall on the sabbath and the official holiday is celebrated on Monday, July 5).

1814- The President is in the Executive Mansion and receives guests, including "the Mayor, aldermen and Common Council of the city." (On August 24, the Executive Mansion is burned down by the British.)

1815- Madison attends a ceremony held at the Capitol and later entertains the assemblage at the Octagon House.

1816- The White House is being rebuilt.

James Monroe

1817- The White House is not yet ready for receptions, so Monroe, on tour in New England, is in Boston with various government officials and naval commodores and participates in the ceremony there by giving a speech. He visits the ship-of-the-line Independence 74, Fort Warren, and stops off at the Exchange Coffee House. From there he visits the Governor of Massachusetts in Medford.

1818- Monroe is in Washington and issues a proclamation that the trade in "Plaster of Paris" is no longer to be exported to the "Province of New-Brunswick."

1819- The President is in Lexington, Kentucky, in the company of General Andrew Jackson, and visiting the Lexington Athenaeum and attending a ceremony at Dunlap's Hotel there.


1821- The President is ill in the Executive Mansion which is closed to the public.

1822- The President is at his farm in Virginia.

1823- The President attends a ceremony held at the Capitol where he hears the Declaration of Independence read by Richard Bland Lee (National Intelligencer, 7 July 1823, 3). Back at the Executive Mansion, because members of his family are ill, he does not receive visitors (National Intelligencer, 2 July 1823, 3).

1824- The President rides in a carriage in a procession to the Capitol, attends a ceremony there, and later holds a reception at the Executive Mansion.

John Quincy Adams

1825- Adams is at the White House where he hears the Marine Band perform; at 10 a.m. he and various Secretaries review several volunteer companies. He then goes to the Capitol to hear the Declaration read. Following that, he returns to the White House to receive numerous guests.

1826- The President, accompanied by the Vice President and others, joins a procession that marches to the Capitol and later returns to the Executive Mansion to receive guests.

1827- The President attends services held in Washington at "the Church of Dr. Laurie," and later holds a public reception at the Executive Mansion.

1828-John Quincy Adams attends ground-breaking ceremony for the excavation of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal at Little Falls located just above Georgetown, and gives an address, with music supplied by the U.S. Marine Band.

Andrew Jackson

1829- The President hold a public reception at the White House at 1 p.m. and at 3 p.m. is supposed to participate in a ceremony for the laying of a cornerstone of one of the "Eastern locks of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, near the mouth of Rock Creek," but a driving rain forces the cancellation of the ceremony

1830- The President is on his way to his residence in Tennessee, with arrival expected on July 6.

1831- Jackson is at Fortress Monroe in Norfolk and turns down an invitation to a public dinner there. Later, he returns to the Executive Mansion in the steamboat Potomac.

1832- The President is at the White House examining a bill to extend and modify the Charter of the Bank of the United States. He vetoes the bill.

1833- Jackson returns to the White House on July 4 from his tour of New England and is ill on this day.

1834- The President is in Washington and plans to leave for the Hermitage in a few days.

1835- The President is in Washington and leaves the Executive Mansion on July 6 in the steamboat Columbia for Fort Calhoun in Virginia.


Martin Van Buren

1837- The President reviews a military parade in Washington.


1839- Van Buren is in New York attending a festival and sabbath school celebration with thousands of children participating


William Henry Harrison

1841- Harrison dies on 4 April 1841

John Tyler

1841- Tyler is in the Executive Mansion receiving guests.

1842- The President is in the White House receiving "an unusually large number of citizens. President Tyler, dressed in a full suit of black silk, from the manufactory of Mr. Rapp, of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, received them with his accustomed frank courtesy, and all seemed in the highest spirits." In the morning, the President received the Sunday Schools, listened to two addresses made to him by children, and the "temperance people made a desent upon the White House, too, and the President made a capital speech to them."


1844- The President is in the White House.

James K. Polk

1845- Polk and the First Lady entertain guests at the White House, including Rev. John C. Smith and the Sunday School of the Fourth Presbyterian Church.

1846- Polk is in the White House and briefly addresses about 200 young students.

1847- From Polk's Diary: "Spent the day in Portland [Maine] and attended a Unitarian church in the morning, in company with the Hon. John Anderson; and a congregational church in the afternoon, in company with the Mayor."

1848- The President receives guests in the Executive Mansion, attends the laying of the cornerstone of the Washington Monument and also reviews a military parade.

Zachary Taylor

1849- Taylor receives guests in the White House, including the E Street Baptist School children, and Master R.W. Wilcox.

1850- Taylor attends a ceremony at the Washington Monument, eats a bowl of cherries and milk, gets sick, and dies a few days later.

Millard Fillmore

1850- Vice-President Fillmore attends a ceremony held at the Washington Monument and takes over as President on July 9 upon the death of Zachary Taylor.

1851- The President has a busy day attenting a ceremony at the Washington Monument in the company of various military officials and other dignitaries, then joins in a procession from City Hall to the Capitol where he ceremonially participates in the laying of the "cornerstone of the new Capitol edifice."


Franklin Pierce

1853- Pierce is in the White House, but walks over to the Post Office to see about having an employee there reinstated after his firing. He writes a letter of acceptance that he will attend the opening of the new Crystal Palace in New York on July 15.

1854- The "Chief Magistrate" is in the Executive Mansion and receives guests, including members of the Western Presbyterian Sabbath School. Pierce later views the fireworks set off on Monument Square.

1855- The President and First Lady are in Cape May, N.J. vacationing and they return to the White House on 7 July.


James Buchanan


1858- Buchanan is in the White House entertaining guests.

1859- The President is in the White House.


Abraham Lincoln

1861- Lincoln calls an "extraordinary" session of Congress and presents an address regarding the suspension of Federal government functions by seccessionists in the South; the President also reviews 29 New York military regiments in front of the White House and also raises the stars and stripes (the flag presented to the city of Washington by the Union Committee of New York) on a 100-foot high flagstaff located at the south front of the Treasury Department.

1862- Lincoln is in the White House and receives the "Soldiers of the War of 1812"; "Mr. Lincoln replied appropriately, thanking them for the call."

1863- The President issues an address to the people honoring the Army of the Potomac and "for the many gallant fallen." There was a ceremony on the grounds of the Executive Mansion. Upon hearing of the news of the surrender of Vicksburg, the President gives a "Fourth of July" speech on July 7 from the upper window of the White House to an "immense" crowd.

1864- The President is at the White House reviewing the Reconstruction Bill and meeting with various officials.

Andrew Johnson

1865- Due to illness Johnson cancels a trip to Gettysburg where he is to honor the return of peace by consecrating a national monument. He remains in the Executive Mansion. (Letter, Andrew Johnson to David Wills, 3 July 1865. Papers of Andrew Johnson, Paul H. Bergeron, ed. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989, 8:344-45).

1866- Johnson is in the White House entertaining guests, including members of the Survivors of the Associated Soldiers of the War of 1812 (National Intelligencer, 6 July 1866, 3).


1868- Johnson issues a Third Amnesty Proclamation to all participants in the Confederate rebellion. Papers of Andrew Johnson, Paul H. Bergeron, ed. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989, 14:317-18).

Ulysses S. Grant

1869- July 4th falls on Sunday and the official celebration occurs on the 5th. The President is at the White House having declined to attend the reunion meeting in New York of the Army of the Potomac.

1870- Grant is on the Presidential train in New England on his way to Woodstock, Conn. He stops in several towns along the way where he is received by cheering crowds. In Woodstock, he participates in that town's celebration and hears speeches by several persons, including one given by Henry Ward Beecher.

1871- The President issues a proclamation in Washington regardng the "Treaty of Washington" between the U.S. and Great Britain regarding the settling of certain "cases of difference."

1872- Grant is at Long Branch, N.J., amidst canons firing, bells ringing, and fireworks going off.

1873- The President has his proclamation read in Philadelphia announcing the future Cenntennial which is to be held there. Grant does not attend the Philadelphia ceremony, due to the recent death of his father Jesse R. Grant on 29 June. President Grant is in Covington, Kentucky, at the funeral.


1875- Grant visits Heightstown, N.J., and returns to the "President's Cottage" at Long Branch later that evening.

1876- The President is in the Executive Mansion where Mr. Cadwallader, Acting Secretary of State, introduces a Mr. Schlozer, the German Minister, who delivers an autograph letter of congratulations from the Emperor of Germany to the President.

Rutherford B. Hayes


1878- Hayes is in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., being entertained by friends

1879- Early on the Fourth, Hayes is at Fortress Monroe in Virginia with Secretaries of the Treasury, War, Navy, the Attorney-General, and others, and witnesses test firing of bombs and large guns. Later that afternoon, he spends two or three hours on the U.S. steamboat Tallapoosacruising around in the ocean. The evening is spent viewing fireworks.

1880- Hayes celebrates the fourth on 5 July when he returns to Washington from a trip to New Haven, Conn.

James A. Garfield

1881- Garfield lays gravely ill in Washington, D.C. as a result of an assassin's bullet there.

Chester A. Arthur



1884- Arthur spends the Fourth in his office from about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. signing bills and receiving calls.

Grover Cleveland

1885- Cleveland is at the White House with no callers admitted. In the early evening, he receives a cable dispatch from Cyrus W. Field in London which announces the celebration of the Fourth there. The President ends the evening with a drive around Washington which lasts about two hours.


1887- Cleveland declines an invitation to attend a meeting of the Tammany Society in New York, but his letter (June 25) declining the offer is read at the July 4th ceremony there.

1888- Cleveland declines an invitation to attend a meeting of the Tammany Society in New York, but his letter (June 29) to them is read at the July 4th ceremony there.

Benjamin Harrison

1889- Harrison is in Woodstock, Conn., giving a traditional Fourth of July speech


1891- Harrison is in Cape May, N.J., vacationing

1892- Harrison spends "a very quiet and uneventful day [in Washington]. In the morning he drives to the Monument Grounds with Secretary Halford to witness the celebration there, returning to the Executive Mansion about 11 o'clock. He occupied his time until the luncheon hour arrived by looking over his mail and going through some official papers. In the afternoon he took a drive with Mrs. Harrison out into the country, away from the noise and din of the city."

Grover Cleveland

1893- On the evening of July 3, Cleveland is on the steamship Oneida on his way to Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts, where he is expects to stay during the month of July. On July 4, he is ill with rheumatism in his foot and knee, limits his visitors, and prepares to write a message to Congress for the extra Congressional session that is scheduled.




William McKinley

1897- McKinley spends the day with his mother in Canton, Ohio, and attends services at the First M.E. Church.

1898- McKinley is in the White House receiving hundreds of telegrams congratulating him on the progress of the war with Spain

1899- McKinley is in the White House

1900- McKinley is in Canton, Ohio, reviewing a parade.

1901- The President is in the White House. Note: McKinley dies from a gunshot wound on September 14.

Theodore Roosevelt

1902- Roosevelt gives a speech before 200,000 persons at Schenley Park, Pittsburgh.

1903- President Roosevelt gives a speech in Huntington, N.Y., as the town celebrates its 250th anniversary.



1906- The President gives an address using a text by Lincoln at Oyster Bay, N.Y.



William Howard Taft

1909- On Sunday, 4 July, Taft is in Beverly, Mass., visiting "the new Summer White House." He attends church in that town. On Monday, 5 July, the President is in Norwich, Conn. assisting in that town's 250th anniversary of its founding. He reviews a military parade, gives a speech, and holds a public reception.

1910- Taft is in Somerville, Mass., reviewing the parade there, and receives the news that Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller dies.

1911- Taft is in Indianapolis as the guest of former Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks. The President gives a speech there about the "third most important measure" of the administration, i.e., reciprocity with Canada. Taft also reviews the parade in Indianapolis.

1912- Taft rides in the Beverly, Mass., parade. He also gives a speech. From there he goes to Parramatta, the Summer White House, has his picture taken with members of the Taft Club, and then goes to Magnolia to have lunch with Mr. & Mrs. John Hays Hammond, followed by a round of golf.

Woodrow Wilson

1913- President Wilson is at Gettysburg giving a Fourth of July battle reunion speech. After one hour, he leaves by train for New York on way to Cornish, N.H. to spend a few days with his family.

1914- President Wilson gives an address on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and utters the famous words, "Our country, right or wrong," at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

1915- President Wilson is in Cornish, N.H., and takes an auto ride with his family and stops to offer assistance to persons involved in an automobile wreck. Otherwise, Wilson, staying at the Harlakenden House, spends a quiet Fourth.

1916-In Washington, D.C., President Wilson gives a speech at the dedication of the new American Federation of Labor building.

1917- The President is in the White House faced with the challenge of assembling a war machine for the impending conflict. He receives a Fourth of July congratulatory letter from Jean Jules Jusserand who notes the similarities of the "fight for liberty" that France and the United States share.

1918- President Wilson gives a speech at an "International Fourth of July celebration" at Mount Vernon and in Washington, he attends a presentation of a pageantry entitled "Democracy Triumphant," presented at the Capitol.

1919- Wilson in on board the USS George Washington and presents a Fourth of July address to the passengers.

1920- The President is in the White House reading and writing correspondence.

Warren G. Harding

1921- Harding spends the weekend at the home of Senator Joseph S. Frelinghuysen at Raritan, N.J., attends a service at the Third Dutch Reformed Church, holds a public reception, and plays a round of golf.

1922- Harding and the First Lady are in Marion, Ohio, with family. Harding participates in centennial exercises there at the Fair Grounds.

1923- In Meacham, Oregon, President Harding participates in the 80th anniversary of the arrival of the first immigrant wagon there. He rides in a Concord stage coach drawn by six horses and gives a speech. Note: Harding dies while in office on August 2, 1923.

Calvin Coolidge

1924- President Coolidge addresses the national convention of the National Educational Association in Washington, D.C. in the morning but spends most of his time at the bedside of his son, Calvin Coolidge, Jr. who is very ill with septic poisoning.


1926- Coolidge plants a willow tree (the same kind of tree near the grave of George Washington at Mount Vernon) on the South Jersey exposition grounds in connection with the opening of the Delaware River bridge, and on 5 July he gives a speech in Philadelphia at the Sesquicentennial Exposition there.

1927- Coolidge is in Rapid City, S.D., celebrating the Fourth and his 55-th birthday and he appears in western attire.

1928- President Coolidge is at the Cedar Island Lodge in Superior, Wisc., fishing for trout.

Herbert Hoover


1930- Hoover is at his Virginia retreat on the Rapidan with a large group of guests. On that day he issues a proclamation to the Senate asking that that body take the London naval treaty under its consideration.

1931- The President is in the White House waiting for news regarding the War Debt Accord proposal. In addition, he has his message read by Ambassador Willys at the unveiling of the Woodrow Wilson Monument at Poznan, Poland.

1932- President Hoover is at his "retreat" with Secretaries Hyde and Hurley and Representative Snell of N.Y. and is enjoying a quiet Fourth of July.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

1933- Roosevelt is on board the cruiser Indianapolis in the Chesapeake Bay, returns later that evening and sends an urgent cable to Secretary Hull in London "instructing the American delegates to the World Economic Conference to do everything in their power to prevent adjournment until important items on the agenda had been dealt with."

1934- Roosevelt is vacationing in the Bahamas.

1935- The President is in the White House working on his tax bill with various officials. He gives up "all idea of a holiday because of this and other legislative affairs."

1936- The President visits Monticello and presents a eulogy to Thomas Jefferson.

1937- Roosevelt attends a church fair on July 3 at Mount Marion, on the west bank of the Hudson, and on July 4, attends services at St. James' Episcopal Church and gives a picnic at his Val-Kill farm for White House staff and newspapermen.

1938- Roosevelt returns to Washington from Gettysburg on the evening of July 3 after having assisted in the dedication of the "Peace Eternal" flame dedication there by presenting his own "Gettysburg Address."

1939- The President gives a press conference on neutrality legislation at Hyde Park.

1940- Roosevelt is at his Hyde Park, N.Y., residence. On this day he officially turns the library bearing his name over to the Federal Government. Earlier in the day, he reads the Declaration of Independence and Preamble to the Constitution to a group of 50 of his estate employees assembled there. In addition, the President from his home touches "a button" officially turning on the lights in the Chicago Coliseum, opening the American Negro Exposition there.

1941- Roosevelt is at Hyde Park where he delivers a live radio address to the nation from the Roosevelt Library.

1942- The President is in the White House working, and purchases a set of "Win the War" stamps to help symbolically to support the war effort. He also issues a Fourth of July freedom and independence statement to the nation.



Harry S. Truman

1945- Truman issues a Fourth of July statement congratulating the American people for bringing the United National Clothing Collection program to a climax and he marks this historic day by asking all Americans to honor this country's fighting men.

1946- Truman is in the Catoctin Mountains (Maryland), near Thurmont.

1947- President Truman is at Monticello giving a speech denouncing the Soviet stand against a joint European recovery project. He also lays a wreath on the tomb of Jefferson.

1948- Truman is on a train heading for Bolivar, Missouri, and a July 5 dedication of a statue in honor of Simon Bolivar.

1949- Truman is aboard the presidential yacht Williamsburg relaxing and preparing for his semi-annual economic report to Congress. He returns to the White House later that day.


1951- Truman is on the Washington Monument grounds giving an address commemorating the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

1952- Truman is at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., watching a baseball game, but leaves after 3 innings due to rain.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

1953- Eisenhower is at Camp David. He plays golf at the Monterey Country Club course at Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., 12 miles from Camp David.

1954- Eisenhower is at Camp David.

1955- Eisenhower is at Camp David where he signs legislation providing Federal aid for irrigation projects in the West. He also spends time on that day at his Gettysburg, Pa., farm.

1956- The President is at his Gettysburg farm.

1957- Eisenhower plays a round of golf nearby his Gettysburg farm.

1958- Eisenhower plays a round of golf nearby his Gettysburg farm

1959- President Eisenhower gives a speech and lays the third cornerstone in the 166-year history of the U.S. Capitol. He spends the remainder of the day at Camp David with military officials.

1960- Eisenhower plays golf nearby his farm at Gettysburg.

John F. Kennedy

1961- Kennedy is at his summer home at Hyannis Port, Mass. spending time on his father's yacht and watching fireworks. The President also replies to a congratulatory note sent to him on July 3 from Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev on the 185th anniversary of the Fourth of July, stating the United States is still dedicated to the "revolutionary principles of individual liberty and national freedom."

1962- Kennedy gives a speech on "Atlantic Partnership" at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, with 42 state governors in attendence. Following that event, the President leaves for Camp David.

1963- President Kennedy chooses 31 persons to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom and sends an Independence Day request to Congress for 108 million dollars to increase the size of the Peace Corps by one-third. Kennedy spends the remainder of the Fourth at Hyannis Port, Mass.

Lyndon B. Johnson

(Johnson is sworn in as President on November 22, 1963 upon the death of Kennedy)

1964- President Johnson is at his ranch in Texas entertaining guests Texas Gov. and Mrs. John B. Connally

1965- Johnson is at his ranch in Texas.

1966- President Johnson is at his LBJ Ranch where he signs the freedom of information bill

1967- Johnson begins his day travelling from his ranch in Texas to attend the christening of his grandson Patrick Lyndon in the St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church in Stonewall. From there he goes to Texarkana to attend the funeral of the wife of Rep. Wright Patman (D., Tex.). He then returns to his ranch.

1968- Johnson gives an Independence Day address at the HemisFair exhibit grounds in San Antonio, Tex., after having arrived from the LBJ Ranch, some 65 miles away. He visits several pavilions at the exhibit.

Richard M. Nixon

1969- Nixon spends the holiday weekend in Key Biscayne, Fla., where he watches a parade and exchanges messages with anthropologist Thor Heyerdawl, who is on the boat "Expedition Ra" on his way across the Atlantic.

1970- Nixon is at the Western White House in San Clemente, California, meeting with Vietnam peace talks envoy David K.E. Bruce. Meanwhile, Nixon's tape recorded July Fourth message is played at the Mall in Washington, D.C. at 7:30 p.m.

1971- The official Fourth celebration occurs on the 5th this year and Nixon witnesses the certification of the 26th Amendment to the Constitution in the East Room of the White House on that day.

1972- Nixon gives a Fouth of July radio address from San Clemente, Calif., in which he unveils plans to issue an invitation to people around the world to visit the U.S. during its forthcoming Bicentennial celebration.

1973- Nixon is in San Clemente, California.

1974- President Nixon is at Key Biscayne, Florida vacationing after having returned from Moscow on the previous evening.

Gerald R. Ford

(Gerald Ford is sworn in as President on August 9, 1974 following Nixon's resignation)

1975- President Ford gives speech at Fort McHenry before a crowd of 7,000.

1976- President Ford begins this historic anniversary with a trip to Valley Forge, Pa., where he gives a speech and signs legislation transferring ownership of the Valley Forge Park from the state of Pennsylvania to the National Park Service. Next, he visits Independence Hall in Philadelphia where he gives another speech and recites the "Pledge of Allegiance" along with Mayor Frank Rizzo. From there he goes to New York where aboard the carrier USS Forrestal he views the parade of tall ships as part of "Operation Sail" festivities there.

James Earl (Jimmy) Carter

1977- The President returns from a holiday weekend trip to Camp David and entertains invited guests at the White House. That evening he views fireworks.

1978 The President and First Lady, together with the Vice President and Mrs. Mondale, watch fireworks from the balcony of the White House.

1979- Carter is at the Camp David mountaintop retreat.

1980- President Carter attends a town-hall meeting at Merced College in California, followed by an outdoor fundraiser event in Modesto, Calif. From there he flies to Miami Beach, Florida, where he gives a political speech at the NAACP's 71st annual convention. He ends the day by flying to Plains, Georgia.

Ronald Reagan

1981- President Reagan continues to recover from an assassin's bullet.

1982- Reagan gives a welcome speech for astronauts Thomas K. Mattingly and Henry W. Hartsfield as they land the space shuttle Columbia at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

1983- Reagan spends this holiday at his California ranch.

1984- Reagan opens a "three-day campaign swing on a patriotic note," first at the Firecracker 400 stock car race at Daytona Beach, Florida. He starts the race "by radiotelephone while airborne on Air Force One." His Fourth address focuses on criticism of "totalitarian" governments.

1985- The Reagans cancel their vacation plans at their California ranch due to the hostage crisis in the Middle East. Instead, they view the fireworks in Washington from the Truman balcony at the White House.

1986- Reagan is in New York where he visits the battleship USS Iowa, reviews a parade of tall ships with French President Francois Mitterrand, and later attends a Governor's Island ceremony with Mitterrand where in an address notes the Soviet's willingness to negotiate an arms control agreement. Later that evening he is on the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy where he views the fireworks in New York harbor.

1987- In Washington, Reagan gives an "Economic Bill or Rights" address on 3 July in anticipation of the Fourth of July celebration.

1988- Reagan returns to the White House from Camp David and comments publicly on the downing of an Iranian passenger jet by the USS Vincennes on 3 July

George Bush

1989- Bush is vacationing in Kennebunkport, Maine.

1990- Bush is in Kennebunkport, Maine.

1991- The President and First Lady Barbara Bush are in Marshfield, Mo., and Grand Rapids, Mich., leading bands and floats in the parades and giving speeches, and they later return to Washington, D.C. to watch fireworks on the Mall.

1992- Bush is in Faith, N.C., giving a speech praising U.S. success in the Persian Gulf War. Earlier in the day, he signals the start of the Pepsi 400 race at the Daytona International Speedway.

William Clinton

1993- Clinton is in Philadelphia at a ceremony ringing the Liberty Bell and later in Davenport, Iowa, at a town meeting in that flood-ravaged city.

1994- Clinton is in Warsaw, Poland as a guest of President Lech Walesa.

1995- The President and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton leave for Camp David after entertaining her "Class of 65" schoolmates from her Chicago suburban high school at the White House.

1996- Near the Pautauxent River in Maryland, President Clinton watches as an eagle named "Freedom" is released.

1997- Clinton is at the White House.

1998- Clinton returns from his trip to China where he met with President Jiang Zemin.

1999- The President and First Lady are in the White House. Clinton spend three hours talking with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif about the India and Pakistan conflict over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Later that evening Clinton views the fireworks from the mansion's Truman Balcony.

2000- Clinton and his family are in New York in the harbor viewing the largest maritime assemblage ever in this country and giving an Independence Day speech. He reviews the "International Naval Revue 2000" military ships parade from the missile cruiser U.S.S. Hue City, then boards the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier to witness the tall ships "parade of sails" with 150 vessels participating.

George W. Bush

2001- Bush and the First Lady are in Philadelphia at a block party sponsored by the Greater Exodus Baptist Church, for children and families that take part in mentoring programs run by churches and religious charities. Following that, he presents an address at Independence Hall there and is presented a keepsake box (made out of wood from the last surviving "liberty tree" that stood on the campus of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland) from Philadelphia Mayor John Street.

2002- The president visits Ripley, West Virginia, where he gives a speech in which he says, "People need to celebrate freedom and . . . go about their business knowing full well that our government is doing everything we can to protect them." In the evening, Bush is back in the White House viewing the fireworks taking place on the mall.

2003- Bush is at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of powered flight by Wilbur and Orville Wright, and Bush gives a speech with comments on the U.S.-led global war on terror. The president returns to Washington after spending about an hour in Dayton and watches fireworks from the balcony of the White House.

2004- The president is in Charleston, West Virginia, presenting a 24-minute speech in which he praises U.S. troops in Iraq for their efforts there and thanks National Guard members for their services

2005- President Bush is in Morgantown, West Virginia, at West Virginia University, asking an audience to hold firm and that America should "finish the fight" in Iraq

2006- The president addresses troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, advising against setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq

2007- Bush is in Martinsburg, West Virginia, addressing the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard. He recited the Pledge of Allegiance and reads from a newspaper published in 1777 about the Fourth of July celebration in Philadelphia that year

2008- President Bush is at Monticello, presiding over naturalization ceremonies for 72 new U.S. citizens, representing 30 countries and is the 4th sitting president to visit Monticello on the Fourth of July

Barack Obama

2009- The president spends part of the day at Camp David and the remainder at the White House where he hosts a Fourth of July picnic

2010- Obama hosts a barbecue for about 1,200 members of U.S. Armed Forces at the White House South Lawn.

2011- The president host a barbecue at the White House for invited troops and includes a USO concert

This page last updated December 2011.

Go back to Fourth of July homepage