Jacksonville isn’t generally known as a mecca for Presidential visits, but in February 1888 it happened. Grover Cleveland and his wife, accompanied by others, left Washington on a special Presidential coach to fulfill the invitation they received to attend the Sub-Tropical Exposition. This was an attempt to lure tourists from California back to the area which an editorial called “Let Us Dish California”. The exposition was described by historian T. Frederick Davis “as the most pretentious undertaking of its kind ever attempted in the state.”
In the Rare Books section of the Jacksonville Historical Society library, the invitation sent to President Cleveland is housed. In it, the City Council and Board of Trade suggested that he might want to visit during February of 1888. Indeed, he did!
The invitation is hand-lettered, and hand-decorated with water-color vignettes and some closed captions. It is bound in magnolia wood boards with hand-painted oil of a magnolia blossom with buds and leaves on the cover. For protection, it is covered in special paper with a hand-lettered title in ink.
Cleveland revisited Jacksonville in 1889.
Librarian, Jacksonville Historical Society