Before Obama, Calvin Coolidge Was The Last Sitting President To Visit Cuba

Mar 23, 2016

President Barack Obama and the first family touched down in Cuba on Sunday, making him the first sitting U.S. President to visit the island nation since 1928. Before Obama, the last and only American president to visit Cuba while in office was native Vermont son Calvin Coolidge, who traveled to Cuba to address the sixth Annual International Conference of American States in January 1928.

Coolidge was greeted with fanfare and booming cannons as thousands of Cubans flooded the city to hear the visiting U.S. leader.

While a different era under different circumstances, Coolidge's mission was not entirely different from Obama's. His speech focused on showing Cuba the path to democracy and independence, and trying to strengthen relations with the country.

To learn more about Coolidge's visit and the significance of president Obama's historic trip, VPR's Mitch Wertlieb spoke with Amity Shlaes, the chairman of the Coolidge Foundation and author of the biography "Coolidge", who says the Vermont-born president wanted to protect his state's best-known natural product from the cheap price of sugar coming out of Cuba.