Criminals in the White House


Several of our Presidents have actually run afoul of the law during their lives, two while they were President.

The first to get in trouble with the law was Franklin Pierce. He was riding through Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. A policeman stopped him for riding to quickly and recklessly though the park, and presenting a danger to the pedestrians. When asked to identify himself, Pierce replied that he was Franklin Pierce, President of the United States. The policeman did not believe him and was not amused at what he thought was a sarcastic answer. Pierce was taken to the police station where he was held until someone from the White House came and verified his identity.

Ulysses S. Grant had a similar problem. He, too, was riding through Rock Creek Park when he was stopped by a policeman for riding recklessly. This policeman recognized the famous President, and immediately apologized. Grant told the man to write him the ticket. Grant not only paid the fine, but wrote a letter to the policeman’s superiors praising his dedication to duty.

One President, Andrew Johnson, was a fugitive with a price on his head. Johnson and his older brother were apprenticed to a tailor in North Carolina. By the terms of the contract, they had to serve the tailor for seven years. The tailor would teach them to be tailors and they would work for him to pay him back. Johnson and his brother ran away to Tennessee, where Andrew set up a tailor shop and went into business for himself.

The tailor swore out a warrant and wanted posters went up offering a reward of $10.00 for the return of both brothers or for Andrew alone. (Andrew must have been a much better tailor than his older brother.) Johnson worked for several years and finally paid off his contract with the tailor, thereby clearing his name.

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