Fun facts about Amer­ica’s lead­ers, some un­be­liev­able

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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.


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 Africa's Liberia 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.

Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Martin Van Buren

An­drew Jack­son

Thomas Jef­fer­son

Abra­ham Lin­coln

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