I was watching a PBS special recently with President Harry Truman taking the three networks on a tour of the renovated White House in 1952. He stopped at a portrait of John Quincy Adams (on the left) and smiled as he told the story of a woman reporter who wanted an interview with Adams.
Here’s the story.
President Adams had a passion of going for a swim before sunrise. The White House didn’t have a swimming pool in the early 1800’s and Adams would rise a couple of hours before dawn and walk to the Potomac river for a quick dip.
Those were the days when Presidents had a lot more freedom. They were not as protected as they are today which is probably the reason Adams would occasionally run into a little trouble.
He liked to swim in the nude.
Enter Anne Royall, a newspaper reporter who had been trying to get an appointment to see the President for some time. When the President’s secretary continued to put her off, M’s Royall decided to try to see him informally. She apparently watched the White House and observed that Mr. Adams went for an early morning swim.
She waited for an opportune morning and hiding near the spot where the President swam, she waited for him to disrobe and dive into the water and then she went a sat on his clothes.
Anne Royall then shouted to President Adams, “I am sitting on your clothes and you don’t get them until I get an interview on the State Bank Question.”
The President reportedly asked her to go behind the bushes while he dressed and then he would give her an interview. She refused and threatened if he tried to get out of the water and get his clothes she would scream and said that she saw three fisherman just around the bend.
She got her interview.
History does not tell us if President Adams continued his daily dips in the buff after that.