A President’s Visit to Dayton

Martin Van Buren

From the Streator Free Press, 24 May 1884:

Speaking of the fine fishing at Dayton, Judge Dickey this morning told an interesting reminiscence of President Martin Van Buren’s visit to Ottawa in 1841. It was just after his defeat by Harrison, and he came here to spend a few days for relaxation. He stopped at the Fox River House and stayed ten days. With him was Spaulding, his secretary of the navy, and a celebrated novelist. Van Buren was the most polished of politicians, an uncle of J. V. A. Hoes, while Spaulding was a blunt, plain spoken man who wanted no nonsense. It was arranged for the party to go fishing at Dayton, and a procession of about 150 men on horseback piloted the distinguished party. At Dayton Col. John Green, a big democrat and friend of the party, had a big crowd assembled, and a little cannon was posted on the hill and fired a rattling salute, so much so that it nearly scared the horses to death. This made Spaulding mad, and he got madder and madder as the boss idiot at the gun kept it booming until Spaulding’s horse careered wildly. Finally the distinguished visitor could contain himself no longer and cried out that if somebody didn’t stop that infernal idiot he would go down and lick him himself. Of course the party caught no fish, and they attributed it to the fact that the secretary of the navy swore so at the gunner.

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