11. Automobile: 1909

The automobile — what’s more American than that? President William Taft was the first president to embrace the new invention. You can see how pleased he looks in that photo at the top of the panel. That’s a big smile beneath a big mustache!

By contrast, Taft’s predecessor - Theodore Roosevelt - was no fan of the automobile: he preferred horses.  But when President Taft was elected, he ordered — for the first time — presidential automobiles. And in 1909, the White House horse stables were converted into a car garage.

Taft’s endorsement of the automobile — and photographs like the one you see here — helped the car go mainstream in America.