Peculiar Presidents Facts for Presidents’ Day


Photo Courtesy of CNN

Grace Cruikshank, Backpage Editor

Monday, February 19 we will celebrate President’s Day. Here are some fun facts about our nation’s leaders.

US Presidents came in all sizes. James Madison was the smallest president. He was only 5’4″ and weighed 100#. Abraham Lincoln was the tallest president at 6’4”. William Taft was the heaviest president. He reportedly got stuck in a bathtub because he was so fat.

Some of the presidents had some strange rituals. Thomas Jefferson thought that if he soaked his feet in a bucket of cold water every day he would never get a cold. John Quincy Adams skinny dipped in the Potomac River every morning. William McKinley thought that carnations were lucky so he always wore one on his lapel. On September 6, 1901 he gave a little girl his carnation and was shot by an assassin shortly after.

The 4th of July is an important day in US History, but it might not be a lucky day for our presidents. There are three US Presidents that died on the 4th of July, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson (1826 on the same day) and James Monroe (1825). Zachary Taylor celebrated the 4th of July eating cherries and milk, but it made him sick and he died a few days later. On a happier note, Calvin Coolidge was born on the 4th of July (1872).

Some presidents had strange pets. Andrew Jackson had a parrot that he trained to curse. Calvin Coolidge had pet raccoons that ran around the White House. Herbert Hoover’s son had two pet alligators that ran around the White House grounds

Interesting Implants? George Washington’s dentures were made from hippopotamus ivory, bone and animal and human teeth, lead, brass, screws and gold wire. Grover Cleveland’s had surgery to remove cancer on a boat so that it could remain a secret. The hold in his mouth was filled with vulcanized rubber.

Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson visited Shakespeare’s home together and chipped off a piece of Shakespeare chair as a souvenir.

Some Presidents had interesting jobs before coming to the White House. Andrew Johnson was a tailor. Gerald Ford was a fashion model and was once on the cover of Cosmopolitan. Ronald Reagan was a movie star. Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer in Georgia. A farming accident left one of his fingers permanently bent. George W Bush was a cheerleader in High School.

Some presidents had interesting family ties. Woodrow Wilson’s wife, Edith Bolling Galt was a descedent of Pocahontas. Franklin D Roosevelt married his cousin, Eleanor. Eleanor was Teddy Roosevelt’s niece. Harry Truman met his wife at Sunday school when he was six years old.

Martin Van Buren was the first president to be born in the United States.

William Henry Harrison had the longest inauguration speech in history (8445 words, 90 minutes) which he delivered in a cold rain. He fell ill soon after and died 33 days into his presidency.

Some presidents were smart cookies. James Garfield was ambidextrous and could write in Greek with one hand and Latin with the other at the same time. Herbert Hoover spoke Chinese.

Teddy Roosevelt was one tough cookie. He was shot while delivering a speech and he continued the speech for an hour and a half with a bullet in his chest. But he had a soft side too. Teddy Bears are named after Teddy Roosevelt because he refused to shoot a bear cub on a hunting trip.

Benjamin Harrison was the first president to have electricity in the White House. He was afraid of getting electrocuted so he slept with the lights on.

Richard Nixon liked to bowl so much he had an ally installed in the White House.

Some pretty terrible things happened to U.S. Presidents. Teddy Roosevelt’s mother and wife died on the same day of different things. Franklin D Roosevelt had polio and was paralyzed. George HW Bush Sr. once vomited on the Japanese Prime Minister. (OK that’s kind of funny!)