This coming Monday is President’s Day…so what better way to celebrate than to take a look back at those men who have held this office before and learn something weird and wacky about them?
Illustration credit: Patrick Moberg
From George Washington to Donald Trump, here are 44 Fun Facts about POTUS’s past and present!
44 Fun Facts about Our US Presidents
George Washington was one of our sickest presidents. He suffered from diphtheria, tuberculosis, smallpox, dysentery, malaria, quinsy (tonsillitis), carbuncle, pneumonia, and epiglottitis, just to name a few.
John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved into the White House in 1800 and became the first presidential couple to occupy the home…but he only got to enjoy the comforts of The White House for four months before his term ended.
Thomas Jefferson was a science enthusiast and loved technology and innovation. One of his favorite machines was a rotating book stand that held up to five books at a time.
James Madison once graced the front of the $5,000 bill. However, the government stopped printing these in 1945.
James Monroe was one of three of the Founding Fathers to die on July 4th. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826 and Monroe died on July 4, 1831.
John Quincy Adams loved skinny dipping. Every morning at 5:00 am, he would swim in the Potomac River – naked.
Andrew Jackson was a convicted killer. A man with a horrible temper, he actually killed a man in a duel in 1806 for insulting his wife, Rachel, who died shortly before Jackson took control of the country.
Martin Van Buren was the first American-born president, becoming the first candidate born after the American Revolution.
William Henry Harrison had the longest inauguration speech to date (90 minutes) but the shortest term. His tenure as president lasted only 33 days before he died.
John Tyler was not a well-liked president. In fact, many considered him a traitor to the US. His obituary stated, “He ended his life suddenly, last Friday, in Richmond – going down to death amid the ruins of his native State. He himself was one of the architects of its ruin; and beneath that melancholy wreck his name will be buried, instead of being inscribed on the Capitol’s monumental marble, as a year ago he so much desired.” Wow. He was even dubbed “His Accidency”. Yikes, John Tyler.
James Knox Polk spent most of his young years sick in bed and didn’t start formal educational training until about 18 years old. His wife, Sarah Childress, was extremely well-educated and would often help Polk write speeches and letters.
Zachary Taylor was nominated for president without being formally told of his nomination. The now deceased Whig Party chose him to be president, even though he wasn’t at their convention. They sent him a letter, but didn’t pay postage. When the letter arrived, Taylor refused to pay for the postage and didn’t technically find out about his nomination until several weeks later.
Millard Fillmore was one of three presidents who did not have a vice president (Tyler, Johnson and Arthur were the other three).
Franklin Pierce was said to have the best hair of any US president. One witness described it approvingly as a “mass of curly black hair” combed on a deep slant over his wide forehead. So, essentially, Pierce perfected the comb over.
James Buchanan was the only president who was a life-long bachelor.
Abraham Lincoln was a licensed bartender.
Andrew Johnson became mayor of Greeneville, Tennessee at 22 years old…despite never attending a day of school in his entire life.
Ulysses S. Grant lost everything to a scam artist after his run as president. In order to make money for his throat cancer treatments, he contacted Mark Twain to write his memoirs.
Rutherford Birchard Hayes eliminated booze at the White House. He wanted to maintain the dignity of the office by removing all beer, wine and liquor from the kitchen. Wine would sometimes be served for State dinners or visitations, but the president and first lady would not partake.
James Abram Garfield’s mother was the first president’s mother to attend her son’s inauguration.
Chester Alan Arthur owned at least 80 pairs of pants. I don’t think I even own 80 pieces of clothing…
Grover Cleveland was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms (he was both the 22nd and 24th president).
Benjamin Harrison is the first and only president thus far to hail from Indiana.
William McKinley‘s inauguration was the first to be filmed.
Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest president in our history, taking office at the age of 42 after McKinley’s death.
William Howard Taft clocked in at about 354 pounds, but lost about 70 pounds after his presidency. He did so by cutting out bread, potatoes, pork, and liquor…so, like, the best things.
Woodrow Wilson is the only president thus far to earn a Ph.D. degree.
Warren Harding was known for having extramarital affairs. Interestingly, the Republican Party paid off one of Harding’s mistresses to keep her quiet while he was running for president.
Calvin Coolidge was the only US president born on the 4th of July.
Herbert Clark Hoover was fluent in Chinese and would often speak Chinese with his wife in the White House when they wanted a private conversation.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was distantly related to his wife (Eleanor Roosevelt) and 11 other presidents.
Harry S. Truman married his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth “Bess” Virginia Wallace, however she did not enjoy her role as First Lady and spent as little time in Washington as she could get away with.
Dwight David Eisenhower spent 35 years in the military and served in both World War I and World War II; however, he never saw a day of active combat.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy is the only US president to have a Purple Heart, which was awarded to him after he was wounded in action in August 1943.
Lyndon Baines Johnson bought his wedding ring at Sears for $2.50.
Richard Nixon was a Quaker. As a boy, Nixon went to Quaker meetings four times on Sundays and played piano at church services. He enrolled at Whittier College, a Quaker institution, and attended mandatory chapel hours every day.
Gerald Rudolph Ford was the only president to also be an Eagle Scout. Scouting was so important to Ford that, at his funeral, an honor guard of about 400 Eagle Scouts stood watch during the procession.
James Earl Carter founded the Carter Center, which has played an active role in human rights and disease prevention issues globally. Carter actually won a Nobel Prize in 2002 for his decades of work fighting for democracy, human rights, and economic and social developments.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was said to be a great kisser by one Shirley Temple. In 1947, they starred in the film That Hagen Girl, where the 36-year-old Reagan married the 19-year-old Temple. Though Temple said he was a great kisser, the film was a box office flop and was key in starting the decline of both of their film careers.
George Herbert Walker Bush was captain of the Yale baseball team and he actually met Babe Ruth several months before Ruth’s death.
William Jefferson Clinton, despite his personal scandal, left office with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any US president since World War II.
George Walker Bush‘s 2002 State of the Union Address was the first to be broadcast live on the internet.
Barack Obama collects Spider Man and Conan the Barbarian comics.
Donald Trump owns around 18 golf courses around the world.
Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!