Presidential Fun Facts
On this Presidents Day, we celebrate all forty-six men who have dedicated their lives to public service, sitting in the Oval Office and serving the American people the best way they can. No matter political opinions they all served us through one of the most thankless jobs in the country, and today we honor these men by sharing several interesting aspects about each one, from the most famous to those who are a little less well known.
While many believe that our founding president had wooden dentures for teeth, this fact is actually a myth. His dentures were actually made of gold, ivory and even animal and human teeth.
Before he died on Independence Day in 1826, John Adams muttered the words “Thomas Jefferson survives,” unaware that his friend had also died hours earlier. They along with James Monroe all died on July 4.
The Declaration of Independence’s writer was a certified book-nerd, owning thousands of them in multiple languages- even Latin! He sold over ten thousand of them to the Library of Congress before his death.
James Madison and his wife Dolley were both lovers of ice cream, even having a "House of Ice Cream" built on their property.
James Monroe attended the coronation of Napoleon as Emperor while serving as the ambassador to the United Kingdom.
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams often enjoyed skinny-dipping in the Potomac River at early hours in the morning.
While almost every President has owned a pet, Andrew Jackson was the first to own a parrot named Poll. He taught this bird to swear... which seems very on-brand for the "Old Hickory" president.
Martin Van Buren
In his campaign for president, Martin Van Buren is credited as the one to popularize the term “ok.” The word original meant Old Kinderhook, which is where he was from and eventually generated its current meaning of something being alright.
William Henry Harrison
After giving the longest presidential inauguration speech of all time in pouring rain, William Henry Harrison became the first president to die in office after catching pneumonia. He was also president for the shortest period of time, only being in office for thirty days.
John Tyler was an avid violin player, and was even attempting to become a concert player before being convinced to study law.
James K. Polk
While running for office, Polk actually promised that he would not seek a second term if he were to win the presidency. He would keep his promise upon the completion of his first term.
Zachary Taylor was nominated by his party for president without him being present or even with knowledge that any of it was occurring.
Millard Fillmore married his own academy teacher when he was a student at New Hope Academy at nineteen years old.
Franklin Pierce is the only president to not swear his oath of office on a religious text. Instead of swearing it upon a Bible as traditionally seen, he affirmed it on a law book.
James Buchanan is the only president to be a bachelor, never once being married before, during, or after his presidency.
The 16th president was an experienced wrestler in his twenties, wrestling for over twelve years of his life. It was rumored that he participated in over three hundred matches, only losing one.
Andrew Johnson took care of a family of mice that lived in the walls of his bedroom. He would leave flour and water out for them to make sure they were well nourished.
Ulysses S. Grant
While engaged in a high speed coach race through Central Park, Grant received a speeding ticket while riding on a horse. He ended up paying the twenty dollar bond without contest.
Rutherford B. Hayes
The first Siamese cat to ever set foot in the United States was sent as a gift from Bangkok to Hayes and his wife. It traveled by ship from Hong Kong to America and would be named Siam.
On his porch while campaigning for president, Garfield gave part of a speech in German to a crowd of onlookers. Many of them were German immigrants, and it was one of the first times a candidate spoke to a foreign crowd in their native language.
Chester A. Arthur
Due to the assassination of his predecessor and the laws over succession of power not being truly established yet, Arthur had no vice president during his entire term in office. If Arthur were to die as well, it is unclear who would have assumed the position after him.
Grover Cleveland was the first and only president to be elected for two non-consecutive terms, unseating Benjamin Harrison the next term after being defeated by him four years earlier. This makes Cleveland both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States.
Harrison’s presidency oversaw the implementation of electricity within the White House, but the 23rd President was deeply afraid of it. He was even afraid of simply flicking the light switches, having his staff do it instead.
William McKinley appeared on the $500 bill when it was in circulation for twenty-four years. It was discontinued in 1969 after tremendously high inflation.
Theodore Roosevelt was shot mid-speech while campaigning for his third term for office, however his eyeglass case and fifty page speech blocked the bullet from injuring him. After checking that he was not mortally wounded Roosevelt continued with his ninety minute speech while loudly proclaiming “...it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose!”
William Howard Taft
Taft was challenged by Theodore Roosevelt for president when seeking his second term due to deviating from what Roosevelt wanted, despite once being Roosevelt’s vice president. They both lost to the Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson.
Woodrow Wilson is the only president to hold a Ph.D., making him the most educationally accomplished out of all the presidents. This is even more interesting as Wilson only had two years of political experience as New Jersey’s governor before rising to the Oval Office.
Warren G. Harding
An avid poker player, it is rumored that Warren Harding lost all of the White House china while engaged in an intense game.
Calvin Coolidge would rub Vaseline on his head whilst eating breakfast in bed in the White House. He believed that doing so would benefit his health.
Despite their knowledge of the language being rather limited, Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou would speak Mandarin Chinese around the White House in order to keep their conversations private.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR was the only president in American history to serve more than two terms in office, serving for four consecutive terms throughout the Great Depression and World War II before his death in 1945. The constitutional two term limit on Presidents was established after his administration.
Truman was one of the poorest Presidents in American history, receiving the first Presidential Pension and Medicare benefits when they were signed into law. Even with that, he still lived with an incredible amount of debt.
Eisenhower once developed plans to detonate a nuclear bomb on the moon to answer several questions about astronomy and the science of the moon itself.
John F. Kennedy
Kennedy donated his salary when he was both in Congress and as President, largely due to the immense wealth his famous family already held.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Johnson had a number of meetings in the White House while on the toilet. He would use it as a way to intimidate by making those he was meeting with uncomfortable.
Richard Nixon was a fan of community theater and could play five different instruments. It was while auditioning for theater did he meet his future wife, Pat Nixon.
Gerald Ford won two national titles in football during his sophomore and junior years at the University of Michigan. However, he declined offers to play for the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions and instead attended law school at Yale University.
A frugal man, Carter sold the Presidential yacht the USS Sequoia in 1977 as it took $800,000 a year to maintain. It had been around since Herbert Hoover’s administration.
Ronald Reagan was an established actor long before becoming interested in politics, and starred in a number of films. He was even at one point President of the Screen Actors Guild.
George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara had the longest marriage in Presidential history. They met in 1941 and were married for seventy-three years before Barbara’s death in 2018, far eclipsing the closest second with John and Abigail Adams at fifty-four years.
The president throughout most of the nineties was a prolific saxophone player, an instrument that he played during his youth and played in bands. He even became known as “the MTV President” by conservatives upon playing the instrument on The Arsenio Hall Show.
George W. Bush
George W. Bush was a cheerleader for Yale University. He also served as the head cheerleader for Phillips Academy while a senior in high school.
Barack Obama was nicknamed “Barry O’Bomber” by his basketball team in high school. This was due to the large number of high risk shots he would take during games, most of which he would miss.
Donald Trump has his own board game known as “Trump: The Game.” It was released in 1989 and is played very similarly to Monopoly.
The current President was sworn in as Senator alongside his two sons in the hospital in 1973, after his wife and baby daughter were killed in a car crash. Even with his duties as a Senator from Delaware, Biden would commute every night to the hospital and eventually home to tuck his two sons into bed.
While the position of President may seem like a high and mighty place, it is important to remember that these men are human just like us. We honor them for their public service, and celebrate each and every one this Presidents Day.