Warwick’s Rocky Point Was the Site of the First Presidential Phone Call
Warwick, Rhode Island’s Rocky Point Park was one of New England’s most beloved destinations, but did you know it was also an important part of presidential history?
Way back in June of 1877, the first presidential phone call ever took place at Rocky Point, as President Rutherford B. Hayes spoke to telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell while Bell was 13 miles away in Providence.
Hayes had been elected the year prior in 1876 – an election fraught with claims of electoral fraud (sounds oddly familiar) and that was only settled through a compromise that awarded Hayes one more electoral vote than his challenger, Samuel Tilden, who had won the popular vote. Still, many thought Hayes’ election was illegitimate, and he was referred to by nicknames such as “Rutherfraud.”
In the very month of the first presidential phone call, June of 1877, Hayes was also dealing with a crisis of ongoing lawlessness at the U.S.-Mexican border (also sounds oddly familiar). It’s no surprise that after a tumultuous first few months in office, Hayes sought the refuge of Rocky Point.
As mentioned on RoadsideAmerica.com, Hayes was at Rocky Point to attend a clambake and to address a gathering of Civil War veterans. It was during this visit that he received the phone call from Bell; although it was the first official presidential phone call, Bell was not a stranger to the idea of a telephone. The previous month, he had a phone installed in the White House’s telegraph room. Its phone number? “1.”
A number of presidents would later get into some hot water over conversations had over the telephone, but for Hayes, the only real trouble was that he could only make out bits and pieces of the call with Bell. But it may have gone something like this…
Also, there’s no confirmation that this was President Hayes’ favorite song, but we’d like to think that he was a fan: