Presidents in Washington (state)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

U.S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Barack Obama

Presidents in Residence

This week celebrates Presidents Day with a look at the three U.S. presidents who briefly called Washington their home before making their way to the White House. We begin with Ulysses S. Grant, who in 1852 arrived at Columbia Barracks on the Columbia River in what is now Clark County. He served 15 months there as camp quartermaster and it was here in the Northwest that the future president grew out his beard, which would characterize his appearance for the remainder of his life.

In 1940, Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower reported for duty at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma. His wife Mamie preceded him to establish their home, in a building that still stands and is marked with a plaque. Their son John attended Stadium High School and the Eisenhowers had a very active social life. While stationed at Fort Lewis, Ike was promoted to colonel before he and his family left for Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in 1941. Following that, Eisenhower went to war where he rose to the rank of five-star general. In 1952, he was elected president and returned to Washington several times in that capacity.

President Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was a teenager when she moved to Seattle with her family in 1955, living in Columbia City, then Wedgwood, and finally on Mercer Island. After graduating from high school, Dunham enrolled in the University of Hawaii, where she met and married Barack Obama. Their son, Barack Hussein Obama, was born on August 4, 1961.

Shortly after his birth, baby Barack and his mother moved back to Seattle, where Stanley enrolled at the University of Washington. Mother and son lived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood for less than a year, returning to Hawaii before the autumn of 1962. Although Obama's stay in Seattle was brief, it was the beginning of a journey from this Washington's Capitol Hill to the other one.


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