As I began my quest to visit different presidential sites around the country, I failed to realize that there were some in my own backyard. As a native North Carolinian, I realized that my great state claims three presidents from within its borders. I started off in Raleigh, the capital city, where I found Mordecai Historic Park, located not far from the State Capitol. The park gives a glimpse into early Raleigh life. For me the highlight was the birthplace of Andrew Johnson, our 17th president, while not elaborate by any stretch of the imagination, is still worthy for me to pay a visit. Also located on the grounds is the Mordecai House, once the county's largest plantation. The tour of the plantation grounds includes the Allen Kitchen and the herb garden. Other buildings include the Badger-Iredell law offices which date back to 1810 as well as St. Mark's Chapel, which is the site of many weddings.
My next stop took me to Pineville, a small town located outside Charlotte. This is where James Polk, our 11th president was born and raised for eleven years before moving to Tennessee; he then returned to attend college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The site has recreated the log buildings as they were in Polk's time. This is a North Carolina Historic Site and guided tours are offered daily with no admission fee.
The first president to hail from North Carolina is still shrouded in mystery. Andrew Jackson, our 7th president, claims to have been born in Lancaster County, South Carolina. Historians believe that his mother while en route to SC, stopped off at her sister's house in Union County, NC where she gave birth to Jackson. The matter has never been fully resolved. The Andrew Jackson Memorial, in Waxhaw, North Carolina, is dedicated to the life of Jackson and preserving the region of the Waxhaws. Located about twenty miles away in Lancaster, SC is the Andrew Jackson State Park. The park contains a blockhouse that is filled with antiques from the era as well as some that belonged to Jackson himself. There are two monuments located on the grounds and admission is free unlike the Jackson Memorial in NC. The two states worked out a unique settlement in order to claim Jackson as theirs. Each year high school footballs teams from each county compete in the Old Hickory Football Classic. The winner gets to claim Jackson as a native son for the upcoming year.
To honor all three presidents, a statue was dedicated on the grounds in front of the State Capitol. It depicts Andrew Jackson on horseback, Polk seated holding a map, and Johnson seated holding the US Constitution.