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Apr-28-2008 18:48printcomments

New Book by Willamette Professor Chronicles Unusual Presidential Tales

Professor Richard Ellis is the Mark O. Hatfield Professor of Politics at Willamette University.

The Journey from George Washington to George W. Bush, a new book by Willamette University Professor Richard Ellis.
The Journey from George Washington to George W. Bush, a new book by Willamette University Professor Richard Ellis. Image courtesy: Willamette University.

(SALEM, Ore.) - No sitting president has visited Salem, Oregon, since Harry Truman in 1948. In contrast, between 1880 and 1923 six presidents came through Salem. The transportation revolution enabled Americans to travel farther and faster than ever before, so why did it result in presidents seeing less, rather than more, of their fellow citizens?

These and other puzzles in the history of presidential travel are explored in Presidential Travel: The Journey from George Washington to George W. Bush, a new book by Willamette University Professor Richard Ellis.

At the heart of Ellis’s sprightly narrative — chosen as a selection of the History Book Club — is the paradox that while presidential travel is designed to bring presidents and the public closer together, today it often reinforces the image of a remote, even regal leader.

Unearthing little-known tales of our peripatetic presidents, Presidential Travel explores how the public came to foot the bill for presidential trips, why 19th century presidents never left the country, and why earlier presidents — including one punched in the nose on a riverboat — journeyed without protection.

Ellis is the Mark O. Hatfield Professor of Politics at Willamette University. His previous book, To the Flag: The Unlikely History of the Pledge of Allegiance, won the Langum Prize in legal history, was featured on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air, and was selected as the Citizens Read book of the month by the City Club of Portland.




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