NARA has a lovely online exhibit called Tokens and Treasures that showcases various gifts to our Presidents. Every president has received gifts and today the President receives up to 15,000 a year! Early America tried banning foreign gifts, but this prohibition proved impossible to uphold. The exchange of gifts between nations is an integral part of diplomacy. This exhibit features gifts given to Presidents Hoover through Clinton.
So the fun part...what are these gifts? Let's take a look at some of them (and then you go browse the rest!). The gifts range from simple to ostentatious, from personal to representative, from handmade to perfect. Some gifts came in sympathy, in friendship or with thanks while others came in protest.
This is a needlepoint pillow made for President Hoover by an anonymous donor in honor of his love of fishing.
President Kennedy received these miniature rocking chairs in honor of his use of a rocking chair to combat back pain.
President Ford received many service medals from Vietnam veterans in the mail as a protest of his offer of amnesty to draft dodgers.
This Desert Storm chess set was made by Mr. Kellogg of North Carolina while his nephew was held captive in Iraq. After the war ended and his nephew came home, he sent it on to President Bush.
I chose to focus on personal gifts here, but the exhibit also features some state gifts, such as a glass mosaic from Pope John Paul II to President Clinton. Go browse this fun and interesting exhibit!