Cigars are a White House tradition stemming back to the earliest days of the country. In fact Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, was such a fan of tobacco he had brass spittoons added throughout the White House. Jackson and his wife made cigar smoking a family affair as the two would sit outside or by a fire and smoke together. Cigars were the overall choice of presidents, when it came to enjoying a nice evening.
Considered the first president to smoke cigars, James Madison never had a cigar out of reach. Although Madison began the tradition, perhaps the most celebrated cigar-using president was Ulysses S. Grant. He brought the confederate army down as a general and was constantly photographed with cigars. Grant later revealed that after his war triumphs he was showered with celebratory cigars as gifts. He said that due to this, his cigar smoking increased and the habit stuck. Later on, he used his love for cigars in his presidential campaign. It was a successful way to promote his personality to the people. The campaign worked well because he was elected for two terms.
Some controversy came into play with John F. Kennedy’s love for cigars. He signed the embargo against Cuba that restricted the sale of cigars to America. On the night before the embargo went into effect, JFK sent his press secretary to purchase any and all the Cuban H. Upmann cigars he could find. By the end of the night he had a rumored 1,200 cigars.
Later presidents liked to enjoy their cigars in private or in casual settings like the golf course. Cigars symbolize indulgence in life and give a more personable look to the presidents. No matter what their relationship with cigars was, presidents have made a legacy of smoking cigars. The continuing tradition seems to be going strong and in light of President’s day weekend, enjoy a nice cigar to celebrate our nation’s leaders.