Presidents visit Mississippi through the years
AMERICAN FLAG A gleam of sunlight radiates an American flag held by a group of Madison Central High School cheerleaders seen here in silhouette. The cheerleaders were at the school Wednesday to hear President George W. Bush speak. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star.
By William F. West / community editor
August 11, 2002
President Bush's visit to Jackson was his first as commander-in-chief, but it was hardly the first time the sounds of "Hail to the Chief" have resonated in Mississippi.
In 1999, President Clinton went to Clarksdale for a forum, part of his longstanding promise to help the impoverished Delta.
However, the visit was marred by several problems, chiefly from the oppressive summer heat. The warehouse in which the forum took place lacked air conditioning and several people either could not attend or even get a close look at Clinton.
Files at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson have more than a few clippings and listings about past presidential visits to Mississippi.
In 1992, then-President George Bush made a campaign stop in Gulfport after the Republican National Convention and a campaign stop the same year at the Greenville airport. The elder Bush also visited Meridian in 1991.
President Reagan's 1984 campaign dipped into one of his strongholds, the Mississippi Gulf Coast region, for a political rally before 20,000 and to show off the growing crop of local GOP officials.
Reagan had made clear his commitment to the South by kicking off his 1980 presidential campaign at the Neshoba County Fair.
Other presidential trips of note over the years include those by Jimmy Carter, who went to Yazoo City in 1977; Gerald Ford, who campaigned in the state in 1976 seeking a full term; and Richard Nixon, who spoke in Jackson in 1974.
Nixon also went to Naval Air Station Meridian in 1973 and toured the Mississippi Coast in 1969 after Hurricane Camille.
In addition, President Franklin Roosevelt visited North Mississippi and South Mississippi during his years in office. The northern part of the state was important because of his commitment to the Tennessee Valley Authority and the southern part was important because of Camp Shelby.
But his cousin Theodore's visit to Vicksburg in 1907 was arguably one of the biggest, if not the most colorful, of all in Mississippi. An arch of cotton bales greeted the presidential parade as well as a crowd of 15,000 people. And he gave a speech at the hilltop Warren County Courthouse.