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Savannah Morning News – By Walter C. Jones and Larry Peterson

ATLANTA – President Obama will be in Savannah to stump for his economic program March 2, the next stop on his White House to Main Street Tour, according to a White House press release.

The day-long visit represents the president’s third stop on the tour that began in Allentown, Penn., on Dec. 4, and stopped last in Cleveland late last month. Both trips wound between small businesses and a town hall meeting.

The goal of the tour is to give ordinary people a chance to describe their economic challenges, according to the White House official, speaking on background. It also provides him an opportunity to deliver his message directly about the efforts he’s made to shore up the economy. No specific policy announcements are expected in Savannah, the official said.

Although Obama narrowly lost Georgia in the 2008  election, he’ll be on friendly turf on March 2. He carried Chatham County with 57 percent of the vote even though he didn’t campaign here.

Obama spokesman Adam Abrahms said the president will meet with workers, small business owners, families and local leaders. Obama “will share ideas for continuing to grow the economy and to put Americans back to work,” a news release said.

Although it is lower in the Savannah area, the national unemployment rate has hovered around 10 percent.

The release also said Obama will speak to local people “about the challenges they face” and listen “to their ideas for working together to turn the economy around.”

A White House spokesman, who declined to be named, said the event may include some sort of town hall meeting, as did the two other ones.

The spokesman didn’t say why Savannah was picked for the stop.

Other Savannah Presidential Visits

President Nixon – 1970

In this WSB clip, filmed on October 8, 1970, President Richard Nixon and his family visit Savannah to unveil architectural plans for the Ocean Science Center at the Oceanographic Institute at Skidaway Island. Crowds gather to greet the President and his wife Pat as, waving and shaking hands, they cruise through the city in a convertible in a motorcade organized on the President’s behalf. The “Royal Eagle,” a forty-four foot yacht, carries the President and his party to the private dedication on the remote island.

On Skidaway Island, Nixon opens his speech with thanks to Republican Hal Suit, who invited the President to Savannah. He then jokingly refers to the bipartisan nature of his visit. He states that Democratic Governor Lester Maddox would agree that “everybody goes to Atlanta” and that it was due time for a visit to Savannah. Maddox and Suit shake hands after the President’s comment.

President Taft – 1909

On the evening of November 4, 1909, President William Howard Taft arrived in Savannah, via the Central of Georgia Railroad, for a two-day visit at the tail end of his tour of the United States during the first year of his term. He stayed at the home of General W. W. Gordon on the corner of Oglethorpe Avenue and Bull Street. An elaborate banquet was given that night by the City of Savannah in honor of the President at the De Soto Hotel. Each guest received numerous souvenirs of the event, including a solid gold scarf pin with the seal of the City of Savannah, a small dinner plate hand-painted in gold with the President’s monogram, and cigars with a picture of the President on the cigar band and individually wrapped in pouches with the name of each guest embossed on the outside.

The following day, labeled “Taft Day” by the Savannah Morning News, numerous events were held throughout the city, including a concert by the Savannah City Band in Wright Square, acrobatic performances by the Six Flying Banvards in Forsyth Park Extension, flyovers of airships, inspection of torpedo boats off the Barnard Street dock, and a parade with President Taft driven through the city’s streets, surely passing by City Hall which was decked out for the occasion with American flags and bunting. Taft left Savannah from Union Station on November 6, 1909 at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

Source:  City of Savannah

“All Savannah Host to President Taft.” Savannah Morning News (6 November 1909) 12:1.

DeBolt, Margaret Wayt. Savannah: A Historical Portrait (3rd Edition). Gloucester Point, VA: Hallmark Publishing Company, 2001. p128.

“Fine Fireworks Seen in Park.” Savannah Morning News (5 November 1909) 16:6.

Myrick, Shelby, Sr. “Savannah’s Dinner for President Taft.” Savannah Morning News Magazine (8 March 1959) 8.

“Other Presidential Visits.” Savannah Morning News (12 November 1933) 6A:2.

President James Monroe – 1819

A few days after Savannah‘s arrival in Savannah Harbor, the President of the United States, James Monroe, visited the nearby city of Charleston, South Carolina as part of an extended tour of inspection of arsenals, fortifications and public works along the Atlantic Coast. On hearing of the visit, Savannah‘s owner William Scarborough instructed Rogers to sail north to Charleston to invite the President to return to the city of Savannah onboard the steamship.

Savannah departed under steam for Charleston on April 14, and after an overnight stopover at Tybee Lighthouse, arrived at Charleston two days later. Scarborough’s invitation was sent, but as the locals objected to the President leaving South Carolina on a Georgian vessel, he pledged to visit the ship at a later date. On April 30, Savannah made steam for her home port once again, arriving there the following day after a 27-hour voyage.

On May 7 and 8 Savannah took on coal, and on the 11th, President Monroe made good on his promise and arrived to take an excursion on the ship. After the President and his entourage had been welcomed aboard, Savannah departed under steam around 8am for Tybee Lighthouse, arriving there at 10:30am, and departing for town again at 11. Monroe dined on board, expressing enthusiasm to the ship’s owner, Mr. Scarborough, over the prospect of an American vessel inaugurating the world’s first transatlantic steamship service. The President was also greatly impressed by Savannah‘s machinery, and invited Scarborough to bring the ship to Washington after her transatlantic crossing so that Congress could inspect the vessel with a view to purchasing her for use as a cruiser against Cuban pirates.

Source:  Wiki & Historical record of the city of Savannah

President George Washington, 1791

After the Revolution, Savannah was the first capital of Georgia, relinquishing that role to Augusta in 1786. President George Washington visited Savannah in 1791.

During his stay he called on Catharine Greene of nearby Mulberry Grove plantation. She was the widow of General Nathanael Greene, commander of the Continental army in the southern theater, who had been awarded Mulberry Grove in recognition of his services to the cause of independence. A monument to Greene was dedicated in Savannah in 1825 by another famous Revolutionary hero, the Marquis de Lafayette, during a visit to the city that year. It was at Mulberry Grove plantation in 1793 that Eli Whitney, a tutor to the Greene children, perfected the first working cotton gin suitable to combing seeds from short-staple (upland) cotton.

Source:  New Georgia Encyclopedia

The Battle of Savannah

Date: December 29, 1778

Location: Savannah, Georgia

Weather: ~50-60`F, winds calm

American Casualties: 83

British Casualties: 13

American Leaders: General Howe

British Leaders: LtC. Archibald Campbell

Overview:  The American commander Brigadier General Robert Howe of North Carolina, with only 700 men, made a feeble attempt to defend the city. But with troops in their rear, the American defense was broken. With the loss of well over 550 men, and all the artillery, Howe was forced to retire into South Carolina.

Synopsis: Henry Clinton, in charge of British troop in America, is ordered to move to the South. Intelligence reports in Britain indicate that both Georgia and South Carolina have a large Loyalist population who will side with the British. However, to do so means Clinton will have to reduce his manpower in the North. This would open his troop in the northern theater to attack by George Washington. Clinton and his advisors come up with a plan. They send 8,500 troops to Savannah.

The troops from New York, under the command of Lt. Colonel Archibald Campbell, arrive at Tybee Island on December 23, 1778. They are a month late. Forces from St. Augustine under the command of Augustine Prevost join them. Together they march on Savannah.

American forces under General Robert Howe include local militia and Continental soldiers. As the British forces attack the locals flee. There is little the Continentals can do. They retreat in an orderly manner, leaving the small community to the British oppressors. American losses total 83 men with 450 captured. British lose 9 men, with 4 wounded.

Conclusion: The British has now entered the South to look for loyalist support. Many believe that this was the biggest mistake that Cornwallis had made as a General.

Related Previous Savannah Posts:

Savannah History: War, Music, And Southern Sophistication

Skidaway Island: The Eye of the Beholder

Related Links:

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DoE: Obama Administration Announces Loan Guarantees to Construct New Nuclear Power Reactors in Georgia

NRC: Backgrounder on Nuclear Power Plant Licensing Process

Southern Company: Building New Plants – Nuclear Energy

Wiki: Vogtle Electric Generating Plant

BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE: Petition For Review (PDF)

Updated Links:

AJC: In Savannah, Obama expected to focus on energy rebates, jobs, not politics

SAV Tea Party: Obama is coming to Savannah!

SAV Morning News: Obama to unveil $6 billion energy-saving proposal in Savannah

Augusta Chronicle: Obama to discuss energy saving today in Georgia


Pavilion for President Monroe’s
Visit to Savannah in May 1819

Johnson Square
Savannah, Georgia

October 4, 1819
Council Met.On motion of Alderman Henry,
Resolved that all the proceedings relative to the appropriations made for the entertainment of the President of the United States, as well as the sum appropriated for the building of the ball room be laid before the board.

The petition and documents of Mr. Jay were then laid before the board.

On motion of Alderman Henry,
Whereas Council having appropriated five hundred dollars on the [blank] 1819 for the purpose of erecting a pavilion for the ball and supper given in honour of the President of the United States which as was stated in the estimate given in by Mr. Jay would amount to eleven hundred and five dollars, and the balance it was stated would be paid by private subscription.

Resolved, that Council will make no further appropriation on this subject.

The yeas & nays being called for on this resolution, the result was as follows:

Yeas
Hubert
Henry
D Lyon
Bourke
Davenport
Sheftall
Nays
Kelley
Cope
White
Morrison

…Savannah City Council Meeting Minutes, October 4, 1819

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