First President to see the Pacific

The question raised by **Simplicio **in this thread peaked my interest, so I thought I’d bring it to General Questions. Who was the first President to see the Pacific Ocean? I’d be interested to know both who was first at any time in their life, and who was the first to see the Pacific during their Presidency.

At the absolute latest, Warren Harding made a tour of the US (he died in California), visiting Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California. That was during his presidency, of course.

Ulysses Grant saw San Francisco during the gold rush:

I also don’t know if any earlier presidents saw the Pacific, in or out of office.

Hayes visited California during his presidency. It’s a fair bet he saw the Pacific while he was there.

Zachary Taylor might have seen the Pacific during the invasion of Mexico.

From two minutes on wikipedia, doesn’t appear that way: apparently he didn’t make it any farther west than Texas (during the war, anyway)

The US invasion of Mexico never got much further west than Mexico City and mostly took place along the Rio Grande.

California’s admission to the union happened during Taylor’s term of office, finished out by Millard Fillmore after Taylor died. However, it appears that they dispatched people to CA, and did not visit the state in person during the negotiations. Following presidents would have then concerned themselves with CA’s electoral votes. We’re probably after the first one to travel there during a campaign. I would guess that didn’t happen until after the transcontinental railroad was finished in 1869.

From googling, Hayes’ visit took him to LA and San Francisco, so I think pan1 has it for the in-office portion.

From that same cite, Grant was the first in California when not president. I realize that’s not the same as the first to see the Pacific, but other possible contenders I thought of (Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams), I couldn’t find anything to support it.

If Grant was in Fort Humboldt at Eureka, he could hardly avoid it:

I think Grant’s a pretty safe bet.

Grant traveled to California through the Pacific via Panama in 1852. Travel to the Pacific from the eastern US before that date would have involved either a lengthy and arduous journey across what is now the western US, crossing Mexico or Central America, or a voyage around Cape Horn (or an even longer trip via the Indian Ocean). I can’t recall any episodes in any earlier president’s career that would have taken them on that extensive a trip. J. Adams and Jefferson and perhaps some others visited Europe, but that would have been about it.

Teddy Roosevelt visited Panama during his presidency during the building of the Panama Canal, and would have had a view of the Pacific from the hotel where he stayed, but that post-dates Hayes.

I was trying to see if any President’s had served in the Navy, or were on whalers or some such. Looks like most of them were lawyers.

I mentioned in the earlier thread that William Henry Harrison was ambassador to Colombia in 1828. I presume he would’ve gotten there via an Atlantic sea voyage, and the capital is a considerable distance from the Pacific Coast, so I don’t know if he would’ve made it to the Pacific, but it seems possible.

I think it would be unlikely. He was only in Colombia for about six months (Dec 1828-June 1829). The Pacific coast of most of Colombia would have been quite difficult to reach from Bogota by land in that era; it was remote and barely settled and as far as I know not accessible by road. (This map shows no towns on the Pacific aside from Panama City.) Colombia was in a state of near anarchy and I don’t think the US ambassador would be likely to be gadding about. Colombia’s main port on the Pacific at that time would have been Panama City (Panama was then part of Gran Colombia) but it was pretty much a backwater.I’m pretty sure I would have read something about it if Harrison had visited Panama City during his tenure.

I remember learning about Hayes’s big cross-country trip at the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, O. It was the longest presidential trip up to that time, IIRC.

In the latter days of the Civil War, Lincoln mentioned offhandedly to one of his aides that he’d like to visit California sometime. Had he served a full second term, he just might have done it.