Shocking things you didn't know about every US president

AP/Lennox McLendon; Getty/Sean RayfordPresident William Howard Taft, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
  • There are a slew of surprising facts about all 44 US Presidents.
  • Abe Lincoln was an avid wrestler before becoming Commander-in-Chief and JFK donated his entire White House salary to charity.
  • To celebrate President’s Day, take a look back at the most unique fun facts you didn’t know about the US presidents.
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Forget everything you learned in history class. There’s a whole treasure trove of hidden facts about the 44 presidents that haven’t made it into middle school textbooks. From the bizarre (one Commander-in-chief owned a giant block of cheese) to the seriously cool (another won two Grammys), keep scrolling to learn everything about the country’s most important politicians throughout history.


George Washington (1789-1797)

DeAgostini/Getty ImagesA portrait of George Washington with his horse.

Washington had terrible, decaying teeth so he wore dentures made from (among other things) ivory, spring, and brass screws.


John Adams (1797-1801)

Stock Montage/Stock Montage via Getty ImagesAn 1816 portrait of John Adams by Samuel Morse.

John Adams’ last words were “Thomas Jefferson survives.” What he apparently didn’t know was that Jefferson had actually died a few hours prior.


Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)

Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesA portrait of Thomas Jefferson, circa 1780.

He kept pet mockingbirds because he loved to listen to them sing. His favourite of the bunch was named Dick.


James Madison (1809-1817)

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty ImagesAn illustration of James Madison from 1812.

He was Princeton University’s very first graduate student, where he studied Hebrew among other subjects. At the time, he was simple staying for a year of additional studies from the school’s president, John Witherspoon, but today he is considered a grad student, and the very first at that.


James Monroe (1817-1825)

Stock Montage/Stock Montage/Getty ImagesA portrait of James Monroe circa 1800.

Monroe was a law apprentice for another president: Thomas Jefferson. Law apparently didn’t interest him, though and he went into politics.


John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)

National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty ImagesA portrait of John Quincy Adams.

He was a big fan of skinny dipping. Every morning, the president dived into the Potomac for his daily exercise routine.


Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)

Stock Montage/Stock Montage/Getty ImagesA portrait of Andrew Jackson.

Jackson had a giant block of cheese – which weighed 1,400 pounds – that he kept in the White House. He let the public eat the block of cheddar after his time in office was done.


Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)

Universal History Archive/Getty ImagesA print of Martin van Buren taken after his presidency.

Van Buren’s wife died in 1819 and he never remarried. His daughter-in-law filled in with first lady duties.


William Henry Harrison (1841)

VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty ImagesA portrait of William Henry Harrison.

Harrison’s inauguration speech was the longest to date. It went for an hour and 45 minutes and he was out in a snowstorm. He died a month later of pneumonia.


John Tyler (1841-1845)

Everett Historical/ShutterstockA portrait of John Tyler by George PA Healy in 1859.

Tyler had 15 children, which is the most known children by any president.


James K. Polk (1845-1849)

Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesA portrait of James K. Polk.

Polk presided over the building of the Washington Monument, and oversaw the creation of the first postage stamp.


Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)

Bettmann/Getty ImagesA photograph of Zachary Taylor.

Taylor was nominated for president by the Whig Party, and didn’t even realise that it had happened until he received a letter with the news. He also refused to campaign after accepting.


Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)

AP ImagesMillard Fillmore succeeded Zachary Taylor, who died of cholera after only 16 months in office.

Fillmore didn’t have a vice president during his time in office.


Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)

GraphicaArtis via Getty ImagesA portrait of Franklin Pierce, the 14th US president.

Pierce was known as “Young Hickory,” which was a reference to Andrew Jackson, who was known as “Old Hickory.”


James Buchanan (1857-1861)

Everett Historical/ShutterstockA portrait of James Buchanan.

He was the only completely unmarried president to serve in office.


Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

Chicago Historical Society/AP ImagesA portrait of Abraham Lincoln without his signature beard.

Lincoln is in the Wrestling Hall of Fame because of his skills in the ring. As a young man, he only lost one match out of the 300 he participated in.


Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)

Library of CongressA photo of Andrew Johnson.

Johnson never attended school, and had to teach himself how to read.


Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)

Library of CongressCommanding General Grant at the Battle of Cold Harbour in 1864.

The “S” in his name is actually a result of a clerical error when he was nominated to attend West Point. Though he tried to shake it, it stuck.


Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)

Bettman/Getty ImagesA photograph of Rutherford B. Hayes.

The president was the first to be sworn in privately in the White House on a Saturday. He later swore the oath in public.


James A. Garfield (1881)

Everett Historical/ShutterstockFollowing his support of civil service reform, James A. Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau, a disappointed office-seeker.

Garfield became the president of his college, Eclectic Institute, at the tender age of 26.


Chester Arthur (1881-1885)

Bettman/Getty ImagesPresident Chester Arthur posing for a photograph.

Arthur’s critics tried to persuade the public that the presidential hopeful was not actually an American citizen. He was born in Vermont.


Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897)

Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty ImagesGrover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms as President.

Cleveland – who served two nonconsecutive terms – won his presidency by the most razor sharp of magins. He nabbed the job thanks to 1,200 votes in New York.


Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)

Library of CongressA photo of Benjamin Harrison in 1896.

Harrison was the first president to use electricity in the White House. But he and his wife refused to touch the lights for fear of electric shock.


William McKinley (1897-1901)

Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty ImagesWilliam McKinley in his presidential portrait.

McKinley’s team was the first to conduct telephone campaigning.


Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)

AP ImagesA portrait of Theodore Roosevelt ranching and hunting in the Dakota Territory in 1895.

Roosevelt watched Lincoln’s funeral procession when he was a child.


William Howard Taft (1909-1913)

Archive Photos/GettyWilliam Howard Taft posing for a photograph.

Taft almost served in another high office: he was apparently offered a Supreme Court seat by both McKinley and Roosevelt but turned it down.


Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)

AP ImagesWoodrow Wilson throwing the first pitch at a baseball game.

Wilson nominated the first Jewish justice – Louis Brandeis – to the Supreme Court.


Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)

Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty ImagesA photo of Warren G. Harding taken around 1920.

Harding held many jobs before taking office including being a teacher, an insurance agent, a reporter, and the owner of “The Marion Daily Star.”


Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)

Bettman/Getty ImagesCalvin Coolidge is photographed at his desk.

Calvin was actually his middle name – he was born John Calvin Coolidge.


Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)

Topical Press Agency via Getty ImagesHerbert Hoover listening to a one valve radio set.

Before becoming president, Hoover was a self-made millionaire. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in geology and then globe trotted throughout his 20’s, locating valuable mineral deposits.


Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)

AP ImagesFranklin D. Roosevelt.

He was an avid stamp collector, and used that hobby as a stress reliever while he was in the White House.


Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)

Bettmann/Getty ImagesHarry S. Truman is photographed at his desk.

The President once said that the “S” in Truman’s name didn’t actually stand for anything and it’s been the subject of controversy ever since.


Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

Fox Photos/Getty ImagesBefore becoming president, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe.

Camp David is named after Eisenhower’s 5-year-old grandson, David.


John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)

William J. Smith/AP ImagesA photograph of John F. Kennedy in front of the White House in 1963.

Kennedy donated his entire White House salary ($US100,000 a year) to charity.


Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)

AP ImagesLyndon B. Johnson at his desk in the White House in Washington on August 26, 1966.

Johnson nearly died in World War II. He boarded a plane, then exited to use the restroom. When he came back, he boarded a different plane. The original plane he was on was destroyed in battle but the second plane survived.


Richard Nixon (1969-1974)

APRichard Nixon in 1977.

His middle name, Milhous, was actually his mother’s maiden name.


Gerald Ford (1974-1977)

Charles Tasnadi/APPresident Gerald Ford.

He was the only politician to serve as both president and vice president without actually being elected to either office.


Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)

Wilson/AP ImagesJimmy Carter in the Oval Office.

He created the Department of Energy, in response to the energy shortage crisis.


Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)

Walt Zeboski/AP ImagesRonald Reagan enjoying a cold drink.

It may be well-known that Reagan loved jelly beans, but, according to his wife, he was a fussy eater who despised brussels sprouts and tomatoes.


George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)

Charlie Riedel/AP ImagesGeorge H.W. Bush acknowledging the crowd during an appearance at the University of Kansas.

Bush was the youngest pilot in the Navy when he served. He flew for 58 combat missions.


Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

Samir Hussein/Getty ImagesBill Clinton decided to become vegan after his poor diet impacted his health.

Clinton has won two Grammys. The first for the album “Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf/Beintus: Wolf Tracks,” and the second for the reading of his autobiography, “My Life.”


George W. Bush (2001-2009)

APGeorge W. Bush at a speaking engagement.

He’s the first president who has an MBA. He graduated from Harvard Business School in 1975.


Barack Obama (2009-2017)

Susan Walsh/AP ImagesBarack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House.

Obama’s first job was scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins and he says that he ate so much he no longer likes it.


Donald Trump (2017- )

Jonathan Ernst/ReutersDonald Trump addresses a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Trump has appeared in numerous movies including “Zoolander” and “Home Alone 2.”

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