Monday, February 20, 2012

Interesting Facts About Each of America's Presidents

Okay, so let's get away from finances for just a moment. There will be a heavy-hitter post on Thursday of this week, so we'll take it easy today.

I thought to celebrate President's Day today (since I don't get off of work), we would learn one interesting fact about each of our commanders in chief.

George Washington - He didn’t have enough money to get to his own inauguration so he had to borrow $600 from his neighbor.
John Adams - Taught himself to speak Dutch. Then hopped in a boat to the Netherlands, where he borrowed money to keep America from going broke.
Thomas Jefferson - Spoke 6 different languages. On his epitaph, which he composed, it mentions that he was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statuette of Virginia for Religious Freedom and that he was the father of the University of Virginia. He neglected to mention he had been the President of the United States.
James Madison - At 5'4" and under 100 pounds, James Madison was our shortest and smallest President to date.
James Monroe - once chased his Secretary of State from the White House with a pair of fire tongs.
John Quincy Adams - Swam nude (weather permitting) in the Potomac River every day.
Andrew Jackson - Jackson the only president of a debt free United States.
Martin Van Buren - When he wrote his autobiography after serving as president from 1837-1841, he didn’t mention his wife of 12 years. Not even once.
William Henry Harrison - holds the record for the longest inauguration speech in history at 8,578 words long and one hour and 40 minutes. Unfortunately, he gave the speech during bad weather and a month later, he was dead from pneumonia, making his the shortest presidency on record.
John Tyler - Five years after he left the White House, he was so poor that he couldn't even pay a bill of $1.25 until after a corn harvest.
James K. Polk - At age 17 he had a gallstone surgically removed without any anesthesia or antiseptics.
Zachary Taylor - Never voted for a President
Millard Fillmore - Vice President under Zachary Taylor, but Fillmore did not meet Taylor until after they were elected. Fillmore couldn't not read Latin and refused an honorary degree from Oxford University, saying a person shouldn't accept a degree he couldn't read.
Franklin Pierce - Memorized his entire inaugural speech - 3,319 words
James Buchanan - Quietly but consistently bought slaves in Washington, D.C., and then set them free in Pennsylvania.
Abraham Lincoln - Known for a number of things, but you probably don't know that he is the only U.S. president who was also a licensed bartender. He was co-owner of Berry and Lincoln, a saloon in Springfield, Illinois
Andrew Johnson - Has was buried beneath a willow tree he planted himself with a shoot taken from a tree at Napoleon's tomb.
Ulysses S. Grant - It was so cold at this presidential inauguration that the canaries that were supposed to sing at the inaugural ball froze to death
Rutherford B. Hayes - First President to use a phone - his phone number was 1
James Garfield - Could write with both hands at the same time - in different languages
Chester A. Arthur - Arthur told a temperance group that called on him at the White House, "I may be President of the United States, but my private life is my own damn business." Arthur destroyed all of his personal papers before his death.
Grover Cleveland - While sheriff of Erie County, New York, Cleveland was also the public executioner and personally hanged two murderers.
Benjamin Harrison - An excellent extemporaneous speaker, he once made 140 completely different speeches in 30 days.
Grover Cleveland - Yep. Here he is again. Although our current guy is the 44th President, there have really only been 43. Cleveland served two terms like many before him. However, unlike the others before (or after) his terms were not consecutive, so he gets counted twice.
William McKinley - the first to ride in a self-propelled vehicle—the electric ambulance that took him to the hospital after he had been shot.
Theodore Roosevelt - Every member of Teddy Roosevelt’s family owned a pair of stilts, including the First Lady
William Howard Taft - He inaugurated the custom of the president throwing out the first ball to start the baseball season. Mrs. Taft was responsible for the planting of the Japanese cherry trees in Washington.
Woodrow Wilson -would paint his golf balls black during the winter so he could continue playing in the snow.
Warren G. Harding - Gambled away a set of White House china
Calvin Coolidge - Liked to have his head rubbed with petroleum jelly while eating his breakfast in bed. Also he would press all the buttons on the President’s desk and hide and watch his staff run in. He would then pop out from behind the door and say that he was just seeing if everyone was working.
Herbert Hoover - Spoke Chinese to his wife to keep their stories private. Also gave his White House servants strict orders to hide from him whenever he passed by. Those who failed to do so were at risk of being fired
Franklin D. Roosevelt - He was related by blood or marriage to 11 former presidents.
Harry S Truman - Read every book in his hometown library. You probably already know that he middle initial is not an initial at all - it doesn't stand for anything and therefore doesn't have a period after it.
Dwight D. Eisenhower - A skilled chef, he was famous for his vegetable soup, steaks, and cornmeal pancakes. He was the first president licensed to fly an airplane.
John F. Kennedy - Father gave him $1,000,000 when he turned twenty-one. (Each of his nine brothers and sisters got a million dollars too!)
Lyndon B. Johnson - Johnson rejected his official portrait painting, saying it was the ugliest thing he ever saw.
Richard M. Nixon - Offered a position as a player's representative to the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1965. He declined, stating that he was needed in politics.
Gerald R. Ford - Ford was the only president whose two assassination attempts against him were made by women. Ford was a model for Cosmopolitan and Look magazines in the 1940's.
James Carter - Is the first known president to go on record as seeing a UFO. Jimmy Carter is the only president to have been commander of both a nuclear submarine and a peanut farm.
Ronald Reagan - Announced Chicago Cubs games for WHO radio in Des Moines. Also loved jelly beans and used to keep a bowl of them on his desk.
George H. W. Bush - Survived 4 planes crashes during World War II
William J. Clinton - When Bill Clinton was in high school he shook hands with President John F. Kennedy in the Rose Garden
George W. Bush - Has a collection of over 250 signed baseballs
Barack Obama - He does not like ice cream as a result of working at an ice cream shop as a teenager.  Collects Spiderman and Conan the Barbarian comic books.

Source: Random FactsMr. G World, Pocantico Hills, Little Known Facts, White House, & PBSKids


  1. I read this whole post and thoroughly enjoyed it!! I wish I could remember all of these random facts - or at least decide what my favorite ones are so I could spout them off whenever I wanted to. I kind of like that Hayes had the first phone number of 1. Or that Garfield could write a different language with each hand at the same time. wow. cool stuff! thanks!

  2. Thanks! I love learning things like that about the "less famous" Presidents! Funny thing was - it was hard to find "unknown" facts about Lincoln, JFK, Clinton, and Reagan. Their popularity made it hard to find something I didn't already know! So glad you enjoyed!

  3. wow, a lot of really interesting things I did not know. Loved it, though!