Presidents Who Have Visited French Lick Resort

Thomas Taggart, Sr.
Election Day is here and regardless of your politics, it’s interesting to discover what US Presidents have visited French Lick Resort over the years.
French Lick Springs Hotel became a political hotbed when three-time Indianapolis mayor, Thomas Taggart – owner of the hotel – served on the National Democratic Committee from 1900 to 1916. Taggart was chairman of the group from 1904 – 1908 and was considered to be one of the most politically powerful men in the Hoosier State during the first quarter century.

The most influential political event ever held here was in 1931 when French Lick Springs Hotel hosted the annual National Governor’s Conference. Numerous notables attended what would become known as the most important meeting of governors since the conference’s inception in 1908.
Among those speaking was a New York governor who used the conference to propel himself forward as the likely candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination for 1932. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) went on to become the 32nd President of the United States, a position he held from 1932 until his death in April 1945.

President Harry Truman
“Give’em Hell Harry” Truman ran a tumultuous presidential campaign in 1946 due to his strong civil rights platform. Close friend Thomas Taggart Jr. welcomed the president to the hotel and assured Truman of privacy, and a chance to relax and unwind. -  offering the president a dose of true Hoosier hospitality.

President Gerald Ford
President Gerald Ford made a quiet trip to the resort during the 1970s. Ford, an avid golfer, came to get in a few rounds of golf and to relax during a turbulent presidency after taking over following the first-ever resignation by a US President – Richard Nixon.

Governor Ronald Reagan
It was another Governors Conference at French Lick Springs Hotel, held 40 years after the infamous FDR speech that brought another governor into the nation’s limelight. On this evening, the governor of California spoke in favor of re-electing Richard Nixon as president for 1972. That governor, Ronald Reagan, would make his own run for president in 1980 and seek re-election in 1984. Reagan later said that he had been to French Lick before. Back in the 1950s, Reagan had visited as a spokesperson for General Electric.

By Joy Neighbors