Monmouth Beach’s Almost President
Monmouth Beach can’t claim that a resident was ever a President of the United States of America. Very nearly though.
Garret Augustus Hobart, born in neighboring Long Branch on a farm, was America’s Vice President under President William McKinley from 1897 until his death in 1899. Hobart also owned a home on Ocean Avenue in Monmouth Beach, according to the 1889 Wolverton’s Atlas of Monmouth County map. He was also a member of the Monmouth Beach Country Club in 1899 (see letter below). That’s pretty official.
Students of history know that Hobart was replaced as VP on the 1900 Republican ticket by Theodore Roosevelt who went on to become the nation’s Chief Executive (indeed, a great one) when McKinley was assassinated in September 1901. There’s little doubt that had Hobart lived he would have remained on the ticket in 1900 for a second term (McKinley greatly respected and trusted him, calling him the “Assistant President”) and would have become the President after McKinley’s death.
A Rutgers College graduate and self-taught lawyer, Hobart was a powerfully-connected NJ state politician and banker. He served as the NJ State Assembly Speaker and NJ State Senate President and was chairman of the state Republican Party when he was nominated for VP in St. Louis in June 1896.
“I am a businessman; I engage in politics for recreation.”
It was Hobart’s strong fund raising connections with Eastern big businesses and his ability to help carry New Jersey’s electoral votes that secured his place as the nation’s 24th vice president. The McKinley-Hobart ticket won with 51% of the national vote against Democrat William Bryan and the Republicans carried New Jersey for the first time in 24 years. Back then as today, New Jersey was inhospitable to Republicans. In fact, Abraham Lincoln didn’t carry New Jersey in either of his two successful presidential races.
Born in Long Branch in June 1844, Hobart grew up in the Marlboro Twp. area. He also owned homes in Long Branch and West Long Branch. He died of a heart attack at the age of 55 on Nov. 21, 1899 in Patterson, NJ. Wealthy industrialists and borough residents George F. Baker, E.A. Walton and William Barbour would serve as VP Hobart’s pall-bearers. The only other NJ native to be elected US Vice President (1801–1805) was Aaron Burr.
Note: President Teddy Roosevelt would have his own very brief MB connection. As part of a steamship-to-shore excursion in August 1902, the president’s train passed though MB on the way to his review of the NJ National Guard in Sea Girt.