What Early-20th Century American Presidents Sounded Like
Everyone knows JFK's Boston accent and, thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, is more than familiar with the voices of recent presidents like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama (who, according to some, sounds more than a little bit like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). But what did President Calvin "Silent Cal" Coolidge sound like when he deigned to speak? Or how about 23rd President Benjamin Harrison, the first president to be captured on audio? Wonder no more—here's what nine presidents sounded like. (You'll have to continue using your imagination for Chester A. Arthur and all of his predecessors.)
1. BENJAMIN HARRISON
Twenty-third U.S. president Benjamin Harrison, who actually served his term in the 19th century, is believed to be the first POTUS to have his voice preserved for the ages. The 1889 recording was made on a Edison wax cylinder.
2. WILLIAM MCKINLEY
McKinley was known for making campaign speeches right from the front porch of his home in Canton, Ohio—this is one of them. He won the election, of course, and a second term as well—but was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz six months in.
3. THEODORE ROOSEVELT
During his 1912 campaign, Roosevelt recorded several speeches for commercial release through the Edison company. This one addresses the poor wages and grueling hours experienced by industry workers of the day, but you can also listen to three others at the Library of Congress.
4. WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT
This campaign speech about how the Republican party values the American farmer was recorded in 1908 in Hot Springs, Virginia. Taft won the election later that year.
5. WOODROW WILSON
Compared to today's fiery speeches, this 1912 campaign stop by then-Governor of New Jersey Woodrow Wilson seems downright dull.
6. WARREN G. HARDING
Harding's famous "Return to Normalcy" campaign speech from 1920 struck a chord with Americans who were eager to get back to how life was before World War I. They voted Harding into the White House by a landslide.
7. CALVIN COOLIDGE
8. HERBERT HOOVER
Hoover may not have campaigned so hard had he known what was about to happen. This clip shows the future 31st U.S. president asking voters to visit the polls for the 1928 election.
9. FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
All of the presidents make speeches, but not many deliver lines that become as historic as FDR's "a date which will live in infamy." You can listen to the full speech, delivered the day after the Pearl Harbor attacks, above.