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Shocking things you didn't know about every US president

By Hannah S October 22, 2019 0 comments

Forget everything you learned in history class. There’s a whole treasure trove of hidden facts about the 45 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.
  • 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 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). Polk presided over the building of the Washington Monument, and oversaw the creation of the first postage stamp.
  • Zachary Taylor (1849-1850). Taylor was nominated for president by the Whig Party, and didn't even realize 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 elecric 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 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 ($100,000 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."

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