Although Leesburg is only a stone's throw from the nation's capital, it has been 187 years since a sitting president made an official visit to town.
According to Leesburg Research and Communications Manager Betsy Fields, Obama is the first sitting president to visit the town in an official capacity since Aug. 9, 1825, when John Quincy Adams came with the Marquis de Lafayatte on the French nobelman's farewell tour of the United States. The two were accompanied by former president James Monroe, who lived south of Leesburg at Oak Hill.
James W. Head chronicled Adams and Lafayette's visit in his 1909 book, History and comprehensive description of Loudoun County. Head wrote that much of the attention was paid to Lafayette during the visit, which included a toast by Mayor John Henry McCabe. It was described by a Mrs. A.H. Throckman as "the greatest social event in the history of Leesburg."
After a banquet in the courthouse square attended by some 200 people, Head wrote, Adams toasted Lafayette, a hero of the Revolutionary War, saying, "The living records of the war of Independence, like the prophetic books of the Sibyl, increasing in value as they diminish in numbers."
Head estimated that 10,000 people attended the ceremony, significantly more than the expected capacity for Obama's visited Thursday night.
In the late 1940s until 1952, President Harry S. Truman visited Gen. George C. Marshall in his home at Dodona Manor four times, but none in an official capacity, Fields said.
More recently presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton visited Loudoun while they were in office, but neither made it inside the town's limits. Obama campaigned in Leesburg at Ida Lee Park in 2008, before he was elected.