Theodore Roosevelt becomes the first sitting president to make a public appearance riding in an automobile, during a tour of New England on Aug. 22, 1902. Supporters greeted Roosevelt at all points along the route, which he traversed in "a handsome victoria automobile, in charge of two expert New York chauffeurs," The New York Times reported.
Less than a year before, Roosevelt became America's youngest president when his predecessor, William McKinley, was assassinated at the Pan-American Expo and World's Fair in Buffalo, N.Y.
McKinley was the first president to ever ride in a car. It was a steam-powered vehicle.
Roosevelt, a pioneer and adventurer, proved popular among the people and toured often. In August 1902, he took a yacht to New Haven, Conn., and then embarked on a statewide tour in a Columbia Electric Victoria Phaeton automobile. It was the first time a sitting president publicly rode in a car. An estimated 20,000 people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the president.
President Roosevelt made several stops along the way, including a visit to New Haven Coliseum, where he spoke before a crowd of 5,000. He also visited Hartford's Pope Park, where he expressed his appreciation for the 10,000 workers there. Roosevelt noted, "I should, of course, be wholly unfit for the position I occupy if I did not give my best thoughts and best purpose to trying to serve the interests of the toiler of America -- the man who works with his hands, and, of course, also the man who works with his head."
The maximum speed of Roosevelt's car was 13 mph and his police guards couldn't keep up with the car on foot. So they rode bicycles, effectively creating America's first presidential motorcade.
Roosevelt had several other presidential firsts. These include the first to be submerged in a submarine, own a car, have a telephone in his home and entertain an African American at the White House -- Booker T. Washington. He also went on to become the first former president to fly in an airplane.