Fun facts about America’s leaders, some unbelievable
In honor of Presidents Day and George Washington’s birthday on the third Monday of February, TOTI Media presents fun facts about U.S. presidents. The list is compiled from various sources, including the Old Farmer’s Almanac. We wanted to include a quote from George Washington upon assuming the presidency in 1789: “My movements to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution.”
Washington, it should be noted, refused a $25,000 salary. The president since 2001 has earned $400,000 annually, as well as a $50,000 expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account and $19,000 for entertainment.
OTHER FUN FACTS
No president has been an only child.
George Washington gave the shortest inauguration speech on record—133 words and less than two minutes long. William Henry Harrison gave the longest at 8,578 words, or one hour and 40 minutes. He died from pneumonia not long after, making his the shortest term.
John Quincy Adams skinny-dipped in the Potomac River.
Grover Cleveland held the job of hangman. A f ormer sheriff, he twice sprung the trap.
The “S” in Harry S. Truman doesn’t stand for anything. The capital of Liberia in Africa is called Monrovia after James Monroe.
James Garfield was the first left-handed president. He also was the first president to talk on a telephone. He could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other hand, simultaneously.
The term OK derives from Martin Van Buren, known as “Old Kinderhook” because he was raised in Kinderhook, New York. “O.K.” clubs were created to support Van Buren’s campaigns. Van Buren was also the first president to be a United States citizen; the others were born British subjects.
Andrew Johnson was a tailor, wearing only suits that he made himself.
Warren Harding was caught in a White House closet with a woman. On one occasion, Secret Service agents had to stop his wife from beating down the closet door. Harding was also obsessed with poker and once bet a set of priceless White House china―and lost.
Andrew Jackson fought more than 100 duels. He had bullets in his chest and arm.
Calvin Coolidge had his head rubbed with petroleum jelly, believing it was good for his health.
As a young man, Rutherford Hayes fought lyssophobia, or the fear of going insane.
James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were once arrested together riding a carriage in Vermont on a Sunday, violating a state law. Ulysses S. Grant was issued a $20 speeding ticket for riding his horse and buggy too fast.
There have been six presidents with James as a first name: Madison, Monroe, Polk, Buchanan, Garfield and Carter. Carter was the first president born in a hospital. He is also the first known president to go on record as seeing a UFO.
John Tyler had eight children by his first wife and seven by his second. He was 70 when his last child, Pearl, was born.
Ronald Wilson Reagan won the Most Nearly Perfect Male Figure Award from the University of California in 1940.
Gerald Ford’s name before he was adopted was Leslie Lynch King Jr. He worked as a model during college, and he was a Yellowstone National Park ranger directing traffic and feeding the bears. He has the distinction of being unelected as both president and vice president.
Herbert Hoover was an orphan whose first job was picking bugs off potato plants, which paid $1 per 100 bugs.
Abraham Lincoln was a licensed bartender. He was co-owner of Berry and Lincoln, a saloon in Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln was also the first president photographed at his inauguration. In the photo, he is standing near John Wilkes Booth. At 6 feet, 4 inches tall, Lincoln was the tallest president; James Madison at 5 feet, 4 inches was the shortest. George Washington was about 6 feet, 2 inches tall. The average height of presidents since 1901 has been 5 feet, 10.7 inches.
The youngest president was Teddy Roosevelt at age 42, taking office when William McKinley was assassinated. John Kennedy was the youngest elected president at 43. Teddy Roosevelt was also the first to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Woodrow Wilson have also won the award. Al Gore co-won it in 2007 as vice president.
At 325 pounds, William Howard Taft often got stuck in his White House bathtub.
Martin Van Buren George Washington