- John Quincy Adams was a huge fan of skinny-dipping and he did it every morning.
- Thomas Jefferson’s favourite mockingbird was named Dick.
- Andrew Jackson kept a 1,400-pound block of cheddar cheese in the White House.
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Forget everything you learned in history class.
There’s a whole treasure trove of hidden facts about the 46 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)
Washington had terrible, decaying teeth so he wore dentures made from (among other things) ivory, spring, and brass screws.
John Adams (1797-1801)
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)
He kept pet mockingbirds because he loved to listen to them sing. His favourite of the bunch was named Dick.
James Madison (1809-1817)
He was Princeton University’s very first graduate student, where he studied Hebrew among other subjects.
At the time, he was simply 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)
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)
He was a big fan of skinny-dipping. Every morning, the president dived into the Potomac River for his daily exercise routine.
Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)
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)
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)
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)
Tyler had 15 children, which is the most known children by any president.
James K. Polk (1845-1849)
Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)
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)
Fillmore didn’t have a vice president during his time in office.
Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
Pierce was known as “Young Hickory,” which was a reference to Andrew Jackson, who was known as “Old Hickory.”
James Buchanan (1857-1861)
He was the only completely unmarried president to serve in office.
Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
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)
Johnson never attended school, and had to teach himself how to read.
Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
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)
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)
Garfield became the president of his college, Eclectic Institute, at the tender age of 26.
Chester Arthur (1881-1885)
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)
Cleveland – who served two nonconsecutive terms – won his presidency by the most razor-sharp of margins. He nabbed the job thanks to 1,200 votes in New York.
Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)
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)
McKinley’s team was the first to conduct telephone campaigning.
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
Roosevelt watched Lincoln’s funeral procession when he was a child.
William Howard Taft (1909-1913)
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)
Wilson nominated the first Jewish justice – Louis Brandeis – to the Supreme Court.
Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
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)
Calvin was actually his middle name – he was born John Calvin Coolidge.
Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
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 20s, locating valuable mineral deposits.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
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)
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)
Camp David is named after Eisenhower’s 5-year-old grandson, David.
John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
Kennedy donated his entire White House salary ($US100,000 a year) to charity.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)
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)
His middle name, Milhous, was actually his mother’s maiden name.
Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
He was the only politician to serve as both president and vice president without actually being elected to either office.
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
He created the Department of Energy, in response to the energy shortage crisis.
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
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)
Bush was the youngest pilot in the Navy when he served. He flew for 58 combat missions.
Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
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)
He’s the first president who has an MBA. He graduated from Harvard Business School in 1975.
Barack Obama (2009-2017)
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 (2017-2021)
Trump has appeared in numerous movies including “Zoolander” and “Home Alone 2.”
He’s also the only president to be impeached twice.
Joe Biden (2021-)
At age 78, Biden became the oldest president in the history of the US. Previously, this title was held by Reagan who was 77 when he left office.