The First Sitting U.S. President To Receive A Speeding Ticket Was?
Answer: Ulysses S. Grant
When you think of speeding tickets, you likely think of a lead-footed driver getting pulled over in their automobile by the police officer who chased them down with an automobile, light bar blazing. What you likely don’t think of is a policeman chasing down a carriage only to find out that it belonged to the U.S. President—yet that’s exactly how we come to the first instance in history of a U.S. President getting a speeding ticket.
How exactly did this intersection of a speeding president and law enforcement come to be? Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th U.S. President who served from 1869 to 1877, was quite a fan of horseback riding, horsemanship, and by every historical account, potentially the finest equestrian to bear the mantle of President. There was nothing Grant enjoyed more than a good horse race and when he wanted to blow off steam after a day of presidential duties, he’d grab a horse or a horse and carriage and race through the streets of Washington D.C.
During his presidency, however, there was a crackdown around the D.C. area on such antics since racing horses and their carriages had killed several people and the populace was fed up with showy and reckless horsemanship posing a danger to the public. On one fateful day, one William West saw a horse, carriage, and rider rocketing down M Street NW at such a tremendous speed that it took some effort to overtake him and half a block to slow the horse down. Upon bringing the carriage to a halt, Mr. West was greeted with the face of none other than Ulysses S. Grant. By all accounts, Grant was good-natured about the whole affair and owned up to the misdeed, paid the fine, and, by most accounts, kept his horse racing outside the city limits afterwards.
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