Louis Armstrong

We previously talked about the 10th US President, John Tyler. Another US President, Richard Nixon, is on our radar today.

According to multiple accounts, in 1958 Nixon smuggled three pounds of marijuana into the country for legendary entertainer Louis Armstrong.

Here’s how it all allegedly went down, according to the book “Nixon’s Secrets: The Rise, Fall and Unknown Truth About the President, Watergate and the Pardon” by Roger Stone:

Jazz musician Louis Armstrong was appointed as a goodwill ambassador by the US State Department in the late 50s. As such, he toured Asia and Europe playing concerts and sampling the finest ganja from around the world. It’s said that Louis enjoyed a good smoke.

Armstrong and his entourage finished two tours and upon returning home from abroad realized that with the status of goodwill ambassador, US customs routinely waived any searches and waved them all through the customs line. This gave Louis an idea.

The musician and his entourage did a third tour and returned home to Idlewood Airport in New York, this time with a meager stash of three pounds of marijuana in his bag.

Richard Nixon

That same day, US Customs had received a tip to be on the alert for smugglers. Because of this, Louis and his crew were sent to the customs line like everyone else. Knowing he was screwed, Louis mopped the sweat from his brow as he waited in the customs line and for his unavoidable arrest.

Richard Nixon was the Vice President of the US at the time. He happened to be at the airport that day and when he found out Louis was there he wanted to get a press photo with the goodwill ambassador.

Nixon walked up to Louis and asked what he was doing there. Louis explained the part about being told to get in line. Nixon grabbed both of Louis’s suitcases and carried them through customs for him.

Richard Nixon’s reaction upon being told of the situation years later was simply, “Louis smokes marijuana?”