April 27 is the birthday of Ulysses S. Grant, hero of the U.S. Civil War, and, as far as history tells us, the only person to have been arrested while serving as president of the United States.
This was back in 1872, a time when presidents didn’t travel around in giant motorcades surrounded by security.
In Grant’s case, he drove a carriage pulled by horses, and he was all too happy to race through town whenever he could.
The trouble was, Washington DC had been having trouble with speeding carriages, including an accident in which a woman and her son had been trampled and injured by a driver.
The next night, at the same intersection, 13th and M Street, President Grant was racing through with his horses, and he was stopped by William West, a Black police officer who’d served under Grant in the Civil War.
West told the president he had to slow down, and Grant promised he would.
But the very next day, at the very same spot, West caught Grant speeding again.
It’s said that president may have tried to suggest he didn’t realize how fast he’d been going, like so many fast drivers have done.
But he also reportedly told the officer, if you think I’m speeding, then I was speeding, and went with West to the police station.
Grant posted $20 as bond – and he had to walk home.
In other words, when he got picked up for speeding, U.S. Grant gave an unconditional surrender.
Today is also the birthday of telegraph pioneer and code-maker Samuel Morse.
My favorite Morse Code story is at the headquarters of Capitol Records in Los Angeles, which uses lights to send Morse Code messages promoting upcoming record releases.
So if you live in LA and want to know when the next Katy Perry single is going to drop, learn Morse Code.
Capitol Records Building Morse Code (Atlas Obscura)
Grant on horseback image: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution via Creative Commons