Lots of holidays this week, no? Pączki Day, Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, and on Monday, Presidents’ Day! Yay! I know you probably feel like you’ve heard enough about US politics to last you a lifetime, but since I love a good theme AND I actually read a really interesting book about the US presidents last year, I thought I’d post some fun facts about our chief executives throughout the years. I promise these are solely amusing trivia tidbits – nothing that will make you want to smash your head against the wall or angrily take to Facebook.
1 – George Washington was an avid marble player.
2 – John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same oddly fitting day: July 4th, 1826. James Monroe also died on July 4th (five years later in 1831).
3 – Thomas Jefferson loved pasta and designed and built his own “macaroni machine”.
4 – James Madison was the shortest president (Lincoln was the tallest).
5 – James Monroe ran uncontested in 1820 ushering in the “The Era of Good Feelings”.
6 – John Q Adams liked to swim naked across the Potomac.
7 – Andrew Jackson was known for dueling and occasionally taking a bullet for his wife’s honor.
8 – Martin Van Buren had the nickname “Old Kinderhook”, which many believe is where we get the expression “O.K.”
9 – William Harrison got sick after his long, outdoor inaugural address and died after only 1 month in office.
10 – John Tyler was called “His Accidency” as he was the first “Act of God” president.
11 – James Polk banned alcohol and dancing (among other things) from the White House.
12 – Zachary Taylor laid the cornerstone of the Washington Monument while snacking on cherries and milk, which might have given him the bacterial infection that eventually killed him.
13 – Millard Fillmore married his teacher, Abigail Powers.
14 – Franklin Pierce was friends with Nathanial Hawthorne.
15 – James Buchanan never married, the only president thus far to remain a bachelor.
16 – Abraham Lincoln had the legislation for creating the Secret Service agency on his desk the night he was assassinated (although at the time it was an agency meant to stop counterfeiting, not bullets).
17 – Andrew Johnson’s wife, Eliza McCardle, taught him how to write.
18 – Ulysses Grant hated wearing uniforms and received many demerits during his time at West Point.
19 – Rutherford Hayes and his wife Lucy were given a Siamese cat from Bangkok, it was the first Siamese cat in the US.
20 – James Garfield was shot by an assassin in July 1881, but died 79 days later due to the misuse of the newly-invented metal detector as well as unsanitary conditions.
21 – Chester Arthur had Louis Tiffany of Tiffany & Co. redecorate the White House.
22 – Grover Cleveland was distantly related to the guy whom the city of Cleveland was named after.
23 – Benjamin Harrison was the first president to have his voice recorded.
24 – Grover Cleveland (again): after being diagnosed with mouth cancer, he had part of his upper jaw removed in a clandestine operation on a yacht.
25 – William McKinley used to be on the $500 bill, which was last printed in 1934.
26 – Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest person to assume the role of president at age 42.
27 – William Taft might have never gotten stuck in a bathtub, but he did install custom-made tubs throughout the White House and various US ships.
28 – Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of sheep on the White House lawn.
29 – William Harding’s death might have been caused by an intentional poisoning.
30 – Calvin Coolidge was sworn into office by his father, an official notary public. Also, Coolidge was the only president (thus far) to be born on the 4th of July.
31 – Herbert Hoover was the first president born west of the Mississippi.
32 – Franklin Roosevelt was extremely passionate about his hobby of stamp-collecting. (Bonus fact: FDR’s wife Eleanor once had the KKK put out a $25,000 reward for her assassination.)
33 – Harry Truman’s solo initial “S” was given to represent both of his grandfathers: Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.
34 – Dwight Eisenhower changed the name of the famous presidential getaway from Shangri-La to Camp David. He didn’t want to sound too fancy.
35 – John Kennedy was once marooned on an island and sent a successful SOS message via coconut in order to be rescued.
36 – Lyndon Johnson had to deal with the assassinations of JFK, MLK Jr. and Robert Kennedy although he, himself, was never targeted.
37 – Richard Nixon’s daughter, Julie, married the grandson of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower.
38 – Gerald Ford is the only person to have been both vice president and president without ever being elected by the public/Electoral College.
39 – Jimmy Carter was the first president born in a hospital.
40 – Ronald Reagan frequently consulted with an astrologist during his presidency, even keeping a calendar of “good” and “bad” days. Somehow the assassination attempt just wasn’t in the signs…
41 – George H W Bush considered asking Clint Eastwood to be his running mate in 1988.
42 – Bill Clinton has won two Grammy Awards (other presidential Grammy recipients include Jimmy Carter and Barak Obama).
43 – George W Bush’s daughters, Jenna and Barbara, were the first First Family twins.
44 – Barack Obama’s first job was as an ice-cream scooper at Baskin Robbins.
45 – Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, is from Novo Mesto, Slovenia (formerly a part of Yugoslavia) in Central Europe.
46 – Joe Biden’s German shepherd, Major, is the first rescue dog to reside in the White House.