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History: A Brush with the President (Monett, Missouri)

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

From whistle-stop campaign tours to receiving prestigious honors, Monettans have had the chance to interact with the President of the United States. This list commemorates those memorable moments.

26th President Teddy Roosevelt (9/23/12)

Upon losing the Republican nomination to incumbent William Taft, Roosevelt decided to run as a third-party candidate for the 28th president with the Progressive Bull-Moose party. Many campaigns of this time involved traveling the United States by train and stopping at depots to deliver brief speeches.

After visiting Drury College in Springfield and making a quick stop in Aurora, Missouri, Roosevelt addressed a crowd of approximately 1,500 in Monett. Despite his efforts, Roosevelt came in second, and Woodrow Wilson became President.

33rd President Harry Truman ( 9/23/1948)

After a full day of campaigning on his whistle-stop tour in Oklahoma on September 29th, President Truman, along with his wife Bess and daughter Margaret, visited Monett. Around 9 pm, Truman helped dedicate the new hall of the American Legion, presenting a gavel to Post Commander Art Jackman, followed by comments about the "Do-nothing 80th Congress" and general appeals for votes in the upcoming election on November 2nd. Unfortunately, time constraints only allowed for a brief speech from the back of Truman's train. The presidential incumbent then proceeded to Springfield and Marshfield. Truman would later go on to defeat New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, who also stopped in Monett during the election.

40th President Ronald Reagan (5/9/1984)

It was a pleasant spring morning when President Ronald Reagan hosted numerous entrepreneurs from across the United States, including Puerto Rico, in the White House's East Room. Along with discussing the significance of small businesses in the American economy and campaigning for the upcoming presidential election, Reagan awarded EFCO founder William Fuldner the 1984 Small Business Person of the Year for his 32 years of business. Fuldner's enterprise employed 410 workers and was the second-largest producer of nonresidential aluminum windows in the United States.

41st President George H.W. Bush (2/18/1988)

Upon announcing his run for the presidency in October 1987, Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush made a hurried trip to Missouri to address Republican voters participating in the Super Tuesday primary on March 8, 1988. Flying in on Marine Two, Bush's helicopter landed on the practice field by Burl Fowler Stadium. The candidate, accompanied by his entourage, entered the E.E. Camp Gymnasium via the band room behind it. As the Vice President entered the gym, he was greeted by an overflowing crowd of community members and students throughout the R-1 District. Student Body President Kelly Garrett introduced Mr. Bush, presenting him with gifts from the community while Secret Service agents looked on.

After the standard stump speech, Mr. Bush and his crew boarded the helicopter and flew to the Trinity Lutheran School gym in Freistatt, then proceeded to Joplin for a speech at Missouri Southern State College. Vice President Bush would go on to win the bid for President against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

43rd President George W. Bush (11/22/2006)

The exact time of the first presidential turkey pardon is often debated. However, for two turkeys, Flyer and Fryer, the timing was inconsequential. Raised in Monett by Lynn Nutt, the birds received a pardon from President George W. Bush in the Rose Garden on November 22, 2006. Following the ceremony, the relieved birds were flown cross-country to Disneyland to serve as honorary Grand Marshals for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Honorable mention: Franklin Roosevelt stopped in Monett in 1932 but did not address the crowd. His wife, Eleanor, emerged from the train and spoke a few words. Apart from a recent mention in a Monett Times article, there is no other record.


Sources:  History of Presidential Visits to Monett




Speech/General Info Time To Lay By- Jay Mondy


Photo Images of Monett-Elaine L. Orr  Dewey  Life Magazine, “Editorial: Election Time” November 1, 1948 


Reagan Businessman of the Year Presentation Transcript    Businessman of the Year Presentation Video



George H.W. Bush Photo (This is temporary since no photos can be found of this event at the time of publishing, so we opted to use a photo from the event afterward since it featured many of the same people)



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