Before presidents traveled in limousines, they rode in carriages. The carriage above carried President Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, Major Henry Rathbone, and his fiancée Clara Harris to Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. Robert Lincoln, the president’s son, sold the carriage shortly after his father’s assassination.
After his stroke President Woodrow Wilson used to take a drive in his presidential limousine. The White House maintained that the ride was a help in his stroke recovery, but the real reason was for the photographers to make pictures of a president that no one had seen in public for months. The photographs were to show the American public that their president was a well and able leader, but everyone could see that Woodrow Wilson was a very sick man.
As part of the inauguration proceedings, it is a tradition for the president- elect to come to the White House and have coffee.
The president and the president-elect ride to the Capitol for the swearing in ceremony.
Before the Kennedy administration the arrival ceremonies for visiting dignitaries were held on the tarmac of Washington National Airport. President Truman and Princess Elizabeth ride in the presidential limousine in 1951.
The 1961 Lincoln Continental that carried the Kennedys on November 22, 1963 had a long history of carrying presidents.
After November 22nd the Lincoln was driven back to Washington, DC for investigation. Later is was armored, fitted with a solid roof and put back into service. It was used by presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford.
Presidential limousines are loaded on jets to carry presidents on foreign trips. President Nixon was happy for the protection of the limousine during a demonstration during his limit to Rome in 1969.
During the campaign of 1976, President Ford found that the trappings of presidential power, Air Force One and the presidential limousine, were the things that would draw crowds.
President Carter continued to use the convertible limousines on foreign trips. The parade in Alexandria, Eqypt was one of the best parades for photographs.
The prize for the longest parade has to go to Liberia. The Carters got tired of waving to the unending crowds, so they let their daughter Amy do the honors.
The open limousines ended in the Reagan administration.
Visitors have to catch a brief view of presidents and their families as seen through super bullet proof windows of the limousine. Today a common name for the president’s limousine is “The Beast”.