- 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.
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)
Washington had terrible, decaying teeth so he wore dentures made from (among other things) ivory, spring, and brass screws.
John Adams (1797-1801)
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)
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 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)
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 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 magins. 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 20’s, 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- )
Trump has appeared in numerous movies including “Zoolander” and “Home Alone 2.”
- Read more:
- 10 incredible things you didn’t know about Mount Rushmore
- What 15 presidents, first ladies, and their children looked like at the same age
- 7 ways America has changed since the last impeachment hearing
- Before-and-after photos show how dramatically presidents aged in office
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