Martin Van Buren was President from 1837 to 1841. In 1839, due to bad economic times, he vetoed an annual appropriation for the repair and upkeep of the National Road, the first federal highway, which ran from Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois. That road is now US Highway 40. In 1840, William Henry Harrison defeated Van Buren for the presidency but Van Buren decided to run again in 1844. So he hit the campaign trail in 1842, leaving New York state for St. Louis and then down the Mississippi River. In early July, he spent two nights in Indianapolis and left one morning by stagecoach for Terre Haute, planning to stop at Plainfield, Indiana, for breakfast at a place called Fisher Tavern. The stagecoach driver was a man named Mason Wright, who was angry at the poor condition of the National Road and the veto of funds in 1839. On the outskirts of Plainfield, he steered the stagecoach, probably deliberately, over the roots of a large elm tree, tipping the stagecoach over into a very large mud hole. Van Buren was covered with mud and spent the next several hours trying to get cleaned up. The elm tree was damaged in a storm on June 30, 1929. The partial trunk stood until the 1940s when it was cut down. A gavel was made of the wood and given to President Truman, at his request, by Plainfield High School industrial arts classes. A plaque commemerates the spot today.