30 years ago today, Vice President Dan Quayle visited and eleven other sitting VP’s who came to Rochester

30 years ago today, Vice President Dan Quayle visited and eleven other sitting VP’s who came to Rochester

[“Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” — the chastising zinger made by Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Lloyd Bentsen (TX) towards Republican vice-presidential candidate Senator Daniel Quayle (IN) in response to Quayle’s mentioning John F. Kennedy during the 1988 United States vice-presidential debate.

1988 campaign button [David Kramer’s collection]

Notwithstanding, Quayle defeated Bentsen in the 1988 election, becoming the 44th Vice President of the United States. See The Presidential Visits Series in its entirety: James Monroe to Joseph Biden]

Recently, we discovered that on June 17th, 1991 Vice President Dan Quayle and his wife Marilyn spent 3 1/2 hours in Rochester, touring a Xerox copier plant, appearing at a $l,000-a-ticket Republican cocktail party and making an impromptu motorcade stop at a Wegmans in Webster.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 18 Jun 1991

In 1988, Quayle carried Monroe County, but lost the county in 1992 to Al Gore.

On October 8th, 1993, Quayle returned as the keynote speaker for the Lakeside Memorial Hospital benefit in Brockport. In Blair Claflin’s Inside Politics column, he notes that Quayle “made no apologies for the Murphy Brown flap.”

Democrat and Chronicle, Oct 11, 1993 Note that reporters were not allowed to tape Quayle’s speech. Compare to today when everything is videoed or live streamed.

During the 1992 vice presidential campaign, Quayle had referred to Murphy Brown, a popular TV character:

It [an example of how popular culture contributes to this “poverty of values”] doesn’t help matters when prime-time TV has Murphy Brown—a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid, professional woman—mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another “lifestyle choice.”

Quayle’s jibe roiled the culture wars of the 1990s. To many, the Brown character was a cultural hero who broke glass ceilings as a journalist, while also a role model for single moms. To others, she signaled the decline of traditional values, if not a symptom of feminism gone awry.

Of the vice presidency, Quayle said: The job is just awkward, an awkward job.


Like the mighty Mississippi during flood season, our magisterial series The Presidential Visits Series in its entirety: James Monroe to Joseph Biden, has overflown its banks, now encompassing vice presidents, a king, a marquis, failed candidates and three presidential assassins.

At least 12 sitting vice presidents have definitively visited Rochester: Joseph Biden (Obama), Albert Gore (Clinton), Quayle (George H. W. Bush), Walter Mondale (Carter), Nelson Rockefeller (Ford), Hubert Humphrey (Lyndon Johnson), Richard Nixon (Eisenhower), Alben Barkley (Truman), Calvin Coolidge (Harding). Today we add Richard Cheney (George W. Bush) and John T. Marshall (Wilson) to the monumental series.


While finding sitting veep visits, I also looked for other vice presidents with at least marginal ties to Rochester.

For example, Roger S. Sherman (R) was raised in Utica, became its mayor and also its representative when Sherman served in New York’s 23rd congressional district. In 1908 when he ran as William Howard Taft’s running mate, Sherman was well known in western NY. During the vice presidential campaign, Sherman visited Rochester, speaking at Convention Hall.

Democrat and Chronicle, 10/27/08

The Democrat and Chronicle backed Taft/Sherman, and its effusive coverage — “Turn Out en Masse,” “Greeted With Unstinting Applause,” “Augurs Party Victory,” “Keeps Interest At A High Pitch” — may have been based on the newspaper’s endorsement.

Alas, Sherman came tantalizingly close to joining the sitting veep club. On August 23rd, 1909, the D & C presented a reassuring headline —  Sherman Sure to Be There — in reporting that Sherman was scheduled to speak in Canandaigua at a Civil War reunion of the 126th Regiment, NY Volunteers.

Democrat and Chronicle, 8/23 and 27/1909

At the last moment, however, the vice president cancelled and was replaced by NY State Senator John Raines. In 1896, Raines authored the Raines Law, prohibiting liquor sales on Sundays, except in hotels — leading to the unintended consequence of fostering prostitution.

There is no record of any visits to Rochester by Henry Wilson, 18th Vice President who served with Ulysses S. Grant from March 4, 1873 until Wilson’s death on November 22, 1875.  Nonetheless, in 1971 University of Rochester students and faculty members celebrated the anniversary of Wilson’s 100th birthday.

Later, Reverend Hayes Hamilton Rockwell became the fourteenth rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church on the Upper East Side in NYC. Rockwell’s church was one of the first to divest from investments in apartheid South Africa. Rockwell (Brown University ’58) was a personal friend of Bishop Desmond Tutu who helped Rockwell and his wife celebrate their silver wedding anniversary at the Brown chaplain in 1997. University of Rochester’s Campus Times, 2/16/71 p6 [Courtesy of Melissa S. Mead, John M. and Barbara Keil University Archivist and Rochester Collections, Librarian Department of Rare Books and Special Collections University of Rochester]

Democrat and Chronicle, Editorial, Feb 19, 1971. Note that the editorial criticizes Wilson for his role as a Radical Republican who supported the impeachment and failed conviction of President Andrew Johnson. Also note the Campus Time’s article described Wilson as an “ardent Abolitionist,” while the D & C editorial calls Wilson a “zealous Abolitionist” — a term with negative connotations. Today, the critique of Wilson feels off base, as does its praise of Johnson, a former slave owner, for “favor[ing] a more humane approach” towards the defeated Confederacy and its slavocracy. For example, the Radical Republicans wanted more Confederate leaders jailed, while Johnson provided for amnesty and the return of property to those Confederates who would take an oath of allegiance to the United States.

Wilson’s death. Democrat and Chronicle, Nov 23, 1875. According to the note in the archive, a portion of the article is mutilated.

Wilson’s long standing and vocal opposition to slavery certainly merited the celebration, one that should have been repeated last February on the 150th anniversary of his birth.

In a 1953 rather snarky article, “Joe Can Name Them U. S. Vice Presidents ‘Forgotten Men,’ Eh? Well, Now, Let’s See,” Arch Merrill tried his hand at uncovering newsworthy trivia on obscure vice presidents, “concentrating on the ‘forgotten men.’ Most of them turned out to be blaring nonentities.” Merrill writes:

I made a bet with myself that I could dig up at least one interesting thing about each “Throttle-bottom,” no matter how obscure. [Merrill takes the term “Throttlebottom” from the musical comedy hit,  “Of Thee I Sing,” in which Vice President “Throttlebottom” was depicted as so obscure that when he came to Washington, he couldn’t scare up two references for a library card.] I think I lost but that’s for you to say.

Merrill looks at two vice presidents, Schuyler Colfax (Grant) and Levi P. Morton (Benjamin Harrison), with tenuous connections to Rochester — as Merrill says, “rather remote ‘local angles.'” Merrill fails to mention that Colfax’s papers are held in the Rare Books Collection at the University of Rochester.

Some of Schulyler Colfax’s papers. Courtesy of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester.

Democrat and Chronicle, May 17, 1953

Two of the Vice Presidents have rather remote “local angles.”

One is Schuyler Colfax of Indiana, elected with Grant in ’68. Neat, nimble, pious and always smiling, he was dubbed “Smiler” Colfax when Speaker of the House. He lost his fight for re-nomination as Vice President. Like the man who defeated him, Henry Wilson, Colfax was mildly tarred with the Credit Mobilier brush of scandal. His son, Schuyler Jr., from 1910 to 1918 was head of Eastman Kodak’s – cinematographic (motion picture) division and lived in the handsome stone house at 666 East Ave., until recently the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Harold C. Townson, granddaughter of a Vice President.

Colfax’s home on 666 East Avenue is now the East Avenue Apartments complex. His neighbor’s home at 660 East Avenue still stands. [Photo: David Kramer 5/12/21]

Democrat and Chronicle, 1/18/53  Merrill asked us to judge whether he found enough interesting tidbits about obscure vice presidents. On Schuyler Colfax, Merrill slipped. His article,”Joe Can Name Them” was written in May 1953. Yet, four months earlier his newspaper reported that Mrs. Schuyler Colfax’s inauguration dress was held at the Rochester Museum of Arts and Science (now the RMSC). (left) The grandmother of a Rochesterian owned dress at right, also in the museum. It was worn in Washington by Mrs. Schuyler Colfax, wife of the vice president under Grant. They were grandparents of Mrs. Harold C. Townson, who gave dress to museum. Looking at the Colfax dress is Mrs. Edward T. Mulligan, also Washington bound. Sorry Arch to bring up the lapse almost 80 years later. (right, The South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Indiana) 12 Jul 1987) Mrs. Schuyler Colfax wore this extremely heavy gown at the inauguration of her husband as Vice President of the United States in March, 1869. The two piece dress has an ornate pattern of jet and crystal beading, black cut velvet and lace over heavy white silk. A black cut velvet decorative apron forms a bustle in the back  over a skirt of black beaded lace against white. The bodice is beaded lace and cut velvet.

Democrat and Chronicle, Mar 30, 1925

I was rather startled to see in a corner of a dining room ot the Clark Haven Hotel at Brockport a marble bust of Levi P. Morton, Vice President under Benjamin Harrison. Morton, who rose from Vermont farm boy to international banking fame and millions, lived in New York City. He was an occasional visitor to that 28-room double house where his nephew, Morton Mynott, a Brockport banker, lived long before it became an inn.

The Clark Haven Hotel was razed in 1959 and the whereabouts of Morton’s bust unknown. “The Clark Haven Hotel in Clarkson, just north of the Brockport village opened as a hotel in the 1820s. One wing was a toll gate on a turnpike that ran from 1848 to 1868 from Brockport to Hamlin [Ed. note: the town of Hamlin was named for Lincoln’s first vice president Hannibal Hamlin]. Levi P. Morton, vice president of the United States from 1889 to 1893, was a guest there while visiting his nephew, the proprietor.” Image and text William From William G. Andrews’ Around Brockport (2008).

Morton, smooth-shaven, suave, eminently respectable and of generous instincts, had an avid craving for political glory. His prodigious fund raising for the GOP was rewarded by the Governorship of New York and the Ministry to France, as well as the Vice Presidency. What he really wanted was the top place. He was an ally of two mercenary New York bosses, Conkling and Piatt. Political ambitions sometimes brings strange bedfellows.

If you want more substantial data on “the Throttlebottoms,” look up Joe O’Connor  any rainy afternoon in the Public Library. Maybe this time he has dug up something interesting about William A. Wheeler. [In the article, Merril writes of Joe O’Connor, then residing at the Powers Hotel and whose hobby was gathering statistics in the Public Library about American statesmen (dead politicians).]

As both Colfax’s residence and the hotel which held Morton’s marble bust are gone, the “local angles” are even more remote — even if you can read Colfax’s letters at Rush Rhees Library or look at his wife’s dress at the RMSC.

On 6/23, Elizabeth Pietrzykowski, Assistant Director of Collections and Registrar Rochester Museum & Science Center, kindly showed me Mrs. Colfax’s gown. The gown was last publicly displayed about ten years ago for an exhibition on Lincoln at the Rochester Public Library [Photo: David Kramer]

During the course of research, I was struck by the relatively few vice presidential visits. The limited number is partly because prior to adoption of the Twenty-fifth Amendment in 1967, an intra-term vacancy in the office of the vice president could not be filled until the next post-election inauguration.

Between the elections of 1830 (about the time when Rochester was emerging as a major city) and 1964, the office was vacant fourteen times: Vice President John C. Calhoun resigned in 1832 to enter the Senate and 13 vice presidents and presidents died in office. When VP Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973, there was a lag before Gerald Ford’s VP confirmation, and another lag when President Nixon resigned in 1974 and before Nelson Rockefeller’s confirmation as Ford’s vice president.

Two vice presidents have briefly acted as president under the 25th Amendment: George H. W. Bush on July 13, 1985 and Dick Cheney on June 29, 2002 and on July 21, 2007. Also, there was no vice president (or president) on March 4, 1845
as it was a Sunday and neither President James K. Polk nor Vice President George M. Dallas would take their oath that day.  Rochester was technically founded in 1811 when William Fitzhugh and Charles Carroll began laying out streets in the 100 Acre Plot. As such, the empty VP terms of April 20, 1812-March 5, 1813 (VP George Clinton died) and Nov. 23, 1814 – March 4, 1817 (VP Elbridge Gerry died) would fall within Rochester history. I don’t include them because vice presidential or presidential visits before the Erie Canal boom were highly unlikely. Michael Nighan calculates that for the full period, 1789 – 2021, we were without a VP for 37 1/3 years or 16%.

Remarkably, from 1830 – 1974, the office was vacant for a little over 35 years, or about 26% of the time.


In 2014, Biden spoke at Monroe Community College; in 2015 at Canal Ponds Business Park

Of the vice presidency, Biden said the job was: a bitch.

In 2003, Cheney spoke at the Riverside Convention Center.

Democrat and Chronicle, 11/18/03 Vice President Dick Cheney addressed 200 supporters at a $1,000-a-plate fundraising lunch Monday in Rochester. See 
Remarks by the Vice President at a Luncheon for Bush-Cheney ’04

Of the vice presidency, Cheney said: It’s an uncomfortable position to be in. The vice president is there sort of as an overall generalist … He’s here as the president’s understudy, in a sense.

In 2000, Gore spoke at the University of Rochester.

Democrat and Chronicle, 2/15/00 Support Vice President Al Gore, a Democratic presidential candidate, shakes hands with University of Rochester during his visit to the River Campus at the River Campus yesterday. He called for improvements at all levels of education. From At least 17 recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize visited Rochester

In 1984, Bush spoke at the annual meeting of the Monroe County Long-Term Health Care Program. Bush also jogged with the University of Rochester’s women’s track team.

Democrat and Chronicle, 10/26/84 George Bush jogging with UR women’s track team. Secret Service agents also ran. From November 1st, 1984: Ronald Reagan five days before his 49 state landslide. And Jesse Jackson at MCC. And a liberal enclave.

In 1980 during the vice presidential campaign, Mondale spoke to the National Conference of Catholic Charities at United Presbyterian Church. Mondale would be back in Rochester less than two weeks after his defeat. Still Vice President, Mondale stayed at the Hilton Inn on Jefferson Road while traveling to Buffalo to watch his daughter’s St. Lawrence University football team play Canisius College. At the Hilton, Mondale’s entourage paid for 40 rooms at $35 each. That evening, Mondale had dinner in Pittsford with Chris and Nancy Collins.

Democrat and Chronicle, 9/24/80 Vice President Walter Mondale’s message is that Carter is better for America’s cities than Reaganhe was speaking to a crowd gathered at the United Presbyterian Church during his three-hour campaign visit to Rochester. and 11/16/80 Vice president watches game from October 29th, 1980: Carter at a rally six days before the Reagan revolution. And when Bernie Sanders campaigned for Barry Commoner

Of the vice presidency, Mondale said: Over most of America’s history, the vice president has been standby equipment.

In 1976, along with Bob Dole, Ford’s vice presidential running mate, Rockefeller held a joint news conference at the Rochester-Monroe County Airport. Serving as Vice President from December 19th, 1974 – January 20th, 1977, Rockefeller did not seek nomination for a full term at the 1976 Republican Convention.

Democrat and Chronicle, 9/17/76 ‘Hiya Fella’ Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, with the traditional outstretched hand, campaigned at the Rochester airport yesterday morning vice-presidential candidate Robert Dole. They held a news conference and met with area Republican for about an hour during a five-city whirlwind tourm seen by some as a means to boost Dole’s recognition in the East. From October 31st, 1976: Gerald Ford two days before the unelected president’s comeback falls just short.

On LBJ’s vice presidency, Rockefeller said: The “real shocker,'”he relates, was an encounter with an “absolutely frustrated, absolutely furious’ Lyndon Johnson in a hotel room in Miami where “nobody was paying attention to him.”

In 1968 during his presidential campaign, VP Humphrey spoke at the Rochester-Monroe County Airport. Like Mondale, Humphrey returned to Rochester after his defeat, addressing the Kodak Management Club and spending an evening in the Town of Mendon with his friend James P. Wilmot.

Democrat and Chronicle, 9/18/68 New Day for Hubert Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Mayor Frank Lamb, aspiring Democratic candidates both, wrestled with a young Democrat symbol yesterday at the Rochester-Monroe County Airport. The burro is named “New Day.” and 12/9/68 VIP Hunting FORMER Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey flew into Rochester for a day of hunting for a day of hunting with friends. James P. Wilmot, a persona friend of Humphrey escorted him to his farm in the Town of Mendon. Humphrey will address the Kodak Management Club tonight (AP WIREPHOTO) Ed. Note: FORMER in the headline must have been after Humphrey’s term expired. From In ’68 when Vice President Humphrey and former Vice President Nixon campaigned in Rochester

In 1960 during his presidential campaign, VP Nixon spoke at the War Memorial.

Democrat and Chronicle, 11/2/60. Clutter of placards in human sea in Memorial follows Nixon down center aisle toward stage. From Nixon at the War Memorial one week before he lost a razor thin election to JFK

In 1950, Barkley spoke at a Democratic luncheon at the Seneca Hotel. In 1948, when a Senator, Barkley visited Rochester during his vice presidential campaign.

Democrat and Chronicle, (right) 9/29/48 WELCOMED TO THE FLOWER CITY Mrs. Roy F. Bush, wife of the Monroe County Democratic leader, extends welcome from the Flower City to Senator Alben W. Barkley last night on his campaign visit here. (left) 10/29/50 POINTING OUT A DEMOCRATIC POINT Vicepresident Alben W. Barkley listens attentively as Monroe County Democratic Chairman Roy F. Bush emphasizes a bit of discussion at noon rally at which the Vicepresident was principal speaker. Abraham D. Chatman, manager of Joint Board of Amalgamated Clothing Workers, which was co-sponsor of the political meeting, boosts audience to two for Bush’s remark. From When President Truman campaigned in Rochester en route to his upset win over NY Governor Thomas Dewey

In 1922, Coolidge spoke to the Rochester Chamber of Commerce,

Democrat and Chronicle, 7/12/22 “Welcome to our city,” said Mayor Clarence D. VanZandt to V ice-President Calvin C Coolidge at Genesee street and Elmwood avenue late yesterday afternoon when the Vice-President’s party arrived in the city by motor from Buffalo. The national executive was made to feel that Rochester really did welcome his coming. He spoke at a dinner at the Chamber of Commerce and departed by train later In the evening. From October 21st, 1920 in Rochester and Governor Harding’s return to normalcy. And the school named after him.

In 1914, Marshall spoke at Convention Center.

The sub-headline, Too Much Representation Now, He Declares, to me, is confusing. Only the year before, the 17th Amendment — supported by Marshall — was ratified, putting in place the direct popular election of senators. The Amendment gave more representation, yet Marshall says now we have too much representation. In his call to trust men in public life, Marshall seems to claim the exact contours of the electoral schema are not as important as electing trustworthy office holders.

Democrat and Chronicle, 11/29/14 NEXT TUESDAY EVE., Dec. 1 at 8:15 O’Clock Hon. Thomas R. Marshall Vice-President of the United States WILL SPEAK AT CONVENTION HALL Subject: “NATIONAL TENDENCIES” Management of Frederick D. Lamb. Price $1.80, $1.00 and 50c Reserved Seats Now en ala at Gibbons & Stone’s 172 E. Main St. THE EVENT OF THE SEASON and 12/2/14 from When Wilson spoke at Convention Hall and the Shubert Theatre four days before elected President

Of the vice presidency, Marshall said: Once there were two brothers. One ran away to sea; the other was elected vice president of the United States. And nothing was heard of either of them again.

In addition, in 1968 then Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew successfully campaigned in Rochester for the vice presidency; in 1948 former Vice President Henry Wallace (FDR) campaigned in Rochester as the Progressive Party presidential candidate; in 1928 then Kansas Senator Charles Curtis successfully campaigned in Rochester for the vice presidency.

Democrat and Chronicle (top) 9/13/69 Gov. Spiro Agnew, right of center, officiates at opening of Monroe County GOP headquarters in East Avenue  From In ’68 when Vice President Humphrey and former Vice President Nixon campaigned in Rochester (bottom left) 9/18/48 Henry A. Wallace, shown making his bid for Rochester votes at the rally at Edgerton Park Sports Arena last night.  From When President Truman campaigned in Rochester en route to his upset win over NY Governor Thomas Dewey (bottom right) 9/29/48 Senator Charles Curtis, Republican candidate for vice-president, greeted here by Harry J. Bareham, chairman of the Monroe County Committee.

Of the vice presidency, Agnew said: It is a damned peculiar situation to be in, to have authority and a title and responsibility with no real power to do anything. I think it is the hardest adjustment for a man to make.


In 1976, Kansas Senator Robert Dole (R) held a press conference at the Rochester-Monroe County Airport; in 1964 New York Representative William E. Miller spoke from the platform of train at the New York Central station.

(left) 1/17/76 Robert Dole and Nelson Rockefeller find something amusing . . they didn’t always agree on the issues at a news conference in Rochester From October 31st, 1976: Gerald Ford two days before the unelected president’s comeback falls just short.; (right) 10/25/64 MILLER SPECIAL — Rep. William E. Miller, Republican vice presidential candidate, and his wife Stephanie, recognize friends from of rear coach on train that brought them to Rochester on 400-mile campaign tour through upstate New York. From LBJ and RFK in Rochester, October 15th,1964 and November 3rd, 1964: When Rochester’s Senator Keating lost to RFK in the wake of LBJ’s landslide.

In 1960, Henry Cabot Lodge II (R), former ambassador to the United Nations, spoke to 5,000 outside the Manger Hotel; in 1956 Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver (D) spoke to 1,000 at West High.

11/2/60 HAPPY SIGHT — Lodge and wife respond with big smiles along way from airport. Crowds along the route were slime but dense downtown. From Nixon at the War Memorial one week before he lost a razor thin election to JFK (right) 10/11/56 “FELLOW CITIZENS . . .” Sen. Estes Kefauver, Democratic candidate for the vice presidency, greets Rochester via a microphone , upon arrival in the city. Below at left is William N. Posner, Monroe County Democratic chairman. William Mostyn is standing at right with hat in hand beside Detective Albert Diamond. Right, above, N. Y. State Agricultural Commissioner Daniel J. Carey. From October 23rd and 24th, 1952 when Ike and Adlai were in town back to back. And School 29.

In 1948, California Governor Earl Warren (R) spoke outside the New York Central Station; in 1920 Franklin Delano Roosevelt (D), former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, spoke at Convention Center.

(left) 1/28/48 Here’s a section of the crowd that filled the New York Central Station right back to the Central Ave. doors to greet Gov. Earl Warren, Republican vicepresidential candidate, on his appearance here yesterday at 8:15 a. m. for a 15-minute campaign talk. Warren was talking as photo was snapped. From When President Truman campaigned in Rochester en route to his upset win over NY Governor Thomas Dewey (right) 9/22/20 from FDR’s first visit to Rochester as a national candidate, September 23rd, 1920 and the League of Nations.

In 1908, William Jennings Bryan’s running mate John W. Kern (D) was expected to speak at Convention Hall. However, like Sherman in 1909, Kern was a no-show.

10/11/08 Monroe county Democrat are planning to carry on a lively campaign for the next three weeks. It is intended to hold a mass meeting in Convention Hall on the night of Tuesday, October 27th, and Chairman Slosher is trying to land John W. Kern, of Indiana, the Democratic candidate for vice-president as the principal speaker. See The 2020 Republican National Convention and William Jennings Bryan’s speech at Brown’s Square, August 26th, 1896

In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt’s running mate on the Progressive Party ticket, California Governor Hiram Johnson spoke at Convention Hall. Roosevelt/Johnson won 88 electoral votes.

In 2009, a little over a year after former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s (R) failed vice presidential bid, she signed copies of her book, Going Rogue: An American Life, at Borders Books & Music in Henrietta.

11/22/09 (top 1A; bottom 8A)

Researcher Michael J. Nighan examined four 19th century Rochester appearances by vice presidents before and after their term in office: Aaron Burr in 1798 (later serving as vp with Thomas Jefferson), President Martin Van Buren in 1839 (after serving as vp with Andrew Jackson), President Milliard Fillmore (after serving as vp with Zachary Taylor) and Chester Arthur (as a boy, later serving as vp with James Garfield).

The First Big Name – and (Almost) Third President – Comes to Rochester….Probably

Martin Van Buren: The Little Magician pops up in Rochester

Destruction of the Caroline

Destruction of the steamer Caroline during the so-called Patriot War of 1837 from Martin Van Buren: The Little Magician pops up in Rochester

Millard Who?

e Port of Rochester in 1851

Port of Rochester in 1851 from Millard Who?

Master Rutherford Hayes Comes to Town . . . and Perhaps Little Chet Arthur as Well

Mural on the Broad Street Bridge, downtown Rochester, NY [Photo: David Kramer 7/12/18] from Master Rutherford Hayes Comes to Town . . . and Perhaps Little Chet Arthur as Well

One sitting vice president, Garett Hobart with McKinley. had a street in Rochester named after him: Chapel Street, between West and Chili avenues was renamed Hobart Street. The D & C clipping notes that Hobart had the now-dubious distinction to make the case against Filipino independence.

Democrat and Chronicle, June 1938. Courtesy Local History/Rochester Public Library. See The 2020 Republican National Convention and William Jennings Bryan’s speech at Brown’s Square, August 26th, 1896


The Presidential Visits Series in its entirety: James Monroe to Joseph Biden

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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