President Lead Foot

President Ulysses S. Grant
President Ulysses S. Grant

US President Ulysses S. Grant was known for his military exploits and for being the 18th President of the United States. He was also known for being a bit of a lead foot, and he holds the dubious honor of having been arrested for speeding while he occupied the White House.

Grant was driving his horse-drawn coach down M Street NW at such a great speed, that after a police officer grabbed the horse’s bridle, it took half a block to stop the hasty president.

The police officer, William West, was so embarrassed when he discovered he had pulled over Grant that he offered to ignore the infraction. Grant would hear nothing of it, however. The president was reported as saying, “I was speeding, you caught me and I’ll pay the ticket.” At the time speeding tickets were payable by a $5 fine.

It was not Grant’s first. Racing through the streets was something of a favorite hobby of Grant’s. Even after being elected, he did not want to give up his life as a horseman. In fact, Grant rather liked to show off his equestrian skills. In 1866, two years before being elected President, while being dragged along on a political junket through New York City with President Andrew Johnson, Grant found himself riding in a carriage through Central Park. Grant challenged the driver of Johnson’s coach to a road race to the top of the parks’ Great Hill and won handily.

A few years later Grant’s driving skills led to a rather terrible incident. While traveling outside of Washington, the president’s coach ran over a young boy’s foot by accident. Grant wrote a letter apologizing and wishing the boy a speedy recovery, but was not ticketed for the run-in.


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