Fanfare, golf and boos have marked July Fourth for US presidents. Zachary Taylor’s was the worst

July 2, 2023  -WASHINGTON (AP) — Through history, the Fourth of July has been a day for some presidents to declare their independence from the public. They’ve bailed to the beach, the mountains, the golf course, the farm, the ranch. In the middle of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt was sailing to Hawaii on a fishing and working vacation.

It’s also been a day for some presidents to insert themselves front and center in the fabric of it all.

Teddy Roosevelt drew hundreds of thousands for his July Fourth oratory. In 2019, Donald Trump marshaled tanks, bombers and other war machinery for a celebration that typically avoids military muscle.

Richard Nixon enraged the anti-war masses without even showing up. As the anti-Nixon demonstrations of 1970 showed, Independence Day in the capital isn’t always just fun and games. It has a tradition of red, white and boo, too.

In modern times, though, presidents have tended to stand back and let the people party.

George W. Bush had a ceremony welcoming immigrants as new citizens. Barack Obama threw a South Lawn barbecue for troops. Bill Clinton went to the shores of Chesapeake Bay to watch a young bald eagle named Freedom be released to the wild.

In 2021, Joe Biden gathered more than 1,000 people on the White House South Lawn to eat burgers and watch fireworks. That event was noteworthy because such gatherings were unthinkable in the first year of the pandemic. Many wished Biden had not thought of doing it even then — the rampage of the omicron COVID-19 variant was still to come.

Still, the burgers were an improvement from July 4, 1850, when Zachary Taylor wolfed down apparently spoiled cherries and milk (and died five days later. )

A look at what some presidents have done on the Fourth of July:

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