Interesting Facts About Each U.S. President, Part 2

Theodore Roosevelt (1901 to 1909)

Both Roosevelt’s first wife and mother died on the same day, which happened to be Valentine’s Day.

He was shot just before a scheduled speech, but instead of seeking medical treatment, he went ahead with the speech. He started with the following statement: ‘I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot… I give you my word, I do not care a rap about being shot; not a rap!’. The speech went for an hour and a half, and he had a bullet lodged in his chest the entire time.

 

William H. Taft (1909 to 1913)

Taft had a big waist line and reportedly got stuck in a bathtub, though historians say this didn’t actually happen.

 

Woodrow Wilson (1913 to 1921)

In 1919, Woodrow Wilson was under incredible stress. He ended up having a series of strokes, leaving him partially paralysed and almost blind. Despite this, he stayed in office until 1921. He had to rely heavily on his wife though, who became known as the “Presidentress”.

 

Warren G. Harding (1921 to 1923)

Harding had quite a few affairs. He had one with a close friend of his wife and another with a woman named Nan Britton. Britton later wrote a book called The President’s Daughter, explaining that her daughter’s father was Harding. A DNA test was done in 2015, and it proved that the daughter was, in fact, Harding’s.

 

Calvin Coolidge (1923 to 1929)

Every morning, Coolidge had someone rub Vaseline on his head while he ate breakfast. He also had two pet raccoons named Rueben and Rebecca.

 

Herbert Hoover (1929 to 1933)

Before becoming President, Hoover and his wife had once lived in China for a while. While in the White House, they would talk in Mandarin when they wanted to have a private conversation.

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933 to 1945)

The only President to have been elected to more than two terms, Roosevelt is also known as FDR.

He was the fifth cousin of Theodore Roosevelt, and he married his other fifth cousin (once removed), Eleanor Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt was Eleanor’s uncle. FDR was also distantly related to: George Washington; both John and John Quincy Adams; James Madison; Martin Van Buren; both William and Benjamin Harrison; John Tyler; Ulysses Grant; and William Taft. FDR was also distantly related to Winston Churchill.

FDR was terrified of the number thirteen. He refused to have meals with that number of people and leave for a trip on the 13th of any month.

He was crippled with polio; he was disabled from the waist down. But while he was President, the public didn’t know exactly how bad his disability was. The news media hardly mentioned it, and he always tried to be photographed standing up (he had to use heavy metal braces to do so, though).

He was obsessed with his dog, Fala. He was the only one who was allowed to feed him, and he also made him an honorary army private during WWII.

 

Harry S. Truman (1945 to 1953)

Truman’s middle initial doesn’t actually stand for an actual name. He got it from his grandmothers’ names, both of which started with “S”.

He met his wife, Bess, in Sunday school when he was six.

 

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953 to 1961)

Eisenhower changed the name of the presidential retreat in Maryland from Shangri-la to Camp David.

 

John F. Kennedy (1961 to 1963)

Kennedy got $1 million when he turned twenty-one.

His father wrote him a recommendation letter for Harvard. In it, his father wrote that Kennedy was ‘careless and lacks application’, but Kennedy got in anyway.

 

Lyndon B. Johnson (1963 to 1969)

During WWII, Johnson boarded a plane, but he urgently needed to use the bathroom, so he immediately disembarked. When he returned, the plane had taken off without him. It ended up crashing, killing everyone on board.

 

Richard M. Nixon (1969 to 1974)

Nixon loved tenpin bowling. He loved it so much that he had a one-lane alley installed in the basement of the White House.

 

Gerald Ford (1974 to 1977)

Ford’s real name was Leslie Lynch King, Jr.

Ford is the only President to have not been elected President or Vice President by the voting public.

 

Jimmy Carter (1977 to 1981)

Carter appeared in Playboy during the presidential election. He copped quite a bit of criticism for it, because he’d told the magazine: ‘I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do – and I have done it – and God forgives me for it.’ He never apologised for the comments.

 

Ronald Reagan (1981 to 1989)

Reagan consulted with an astrologer before making decisions and scheduling events.

 

George H.W. Bush (1989 to 1993)

Bush inspired “Bushusuru”, a Japanese word that means ‘to do the Bush thing’. This thing is to vomit in public, which Bush did (all over the Japanese Prime Minister) in 1992.

 

Bill Clinton (1993 to 2001)

Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III.

He has two Grammys: one for Best Spoken Word Album, the other for Best Spoken Word Album for Children.

 

George W. Bush (2001 to 2009)

Bush was head cheerleader in high school.

 

Barack Obama (2009 to 2017)

Obama had a pet ape when he lived in Indonesia. He was called “O’Bomber” for his basketball skills in high school.

 

Donald Trump (2017 to present)

Trump was a registered member of the Democrat Party between 2001 and 2009.

 


Words by Callum J. Jones

 

Interesting Facts About Each U.S. President, Part 1

 

 

George Washington (1789 to 1797)

When he was inaugurated as the first President of the United States on 30th April 1789, George Washington only had one natural tooth. He had dentures, and there’s a popular myth that they were made of wood. This is false. They were actually made from a combination of materials, including bone and lead, all held together with brass screws and gold wire. The reason people think they were made of wood was because his false teeth were stained with dark wine, which he had a fondness for.

 

John Adams (1797 to 1801)

Before being elected America’s second president in 1796, John Adams was best friends with Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson was elected as Adams’ Vice President, but ran against him in the 1800 presidential election, during which both men developed a hate for each other. Adams said that a potential Jefferson presidency would have extremely negative effects on the United States.

They both reconciled in their old age, and ironically died on the same day (4th July 1826), which, coincidently, was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

 

Thomas Jefferson (1801 to 1809)

The third President of the U.S., Thomas Jefferson hated public speaking so much that he only gave two speeches during his eight-year presidency: his first inaugural address, and his second.

 

 

James Madison (1809 to 1817)

James Madison, the fourth President, was the shortest person to hold the office. He stood at 5’4”, and weighed just over 100 pounds.

 

James Monroe (1817 to 1825)

At the end of his first term as President, Monroe ran unopposed for a second term. This is something that has only happened one other time, when George Washington was elected for a second term in 1792.

Monroe died on 4th July 1831, fifty-five years after the Declaration of the Independence was signed. He was the last surviving Founding Father.

 

John Quincy Adams (1825 to 1829)

The sixth President was the son of the second, and had a morning ritual of skinny dipping in the Potomac River.

 

Andrew Jackson (1829 to 1837)

Rumour has it that Jackson, the seventh President, taught his pet parrot how to curse.

 

Martin Van Buren (1837 to 1841)

Van Buren is the first President to have been born in the U.S.

He had lots of nicknames, including “Sly Fox” because of his prowess as a politician.

 

William Henry Harrison (1841)

Harrison holds the record for delivering the longest inauguration speech to date. It was 8,445 words, and took ninety minutes to deliver in full. His inauguration was held on a wet, cold day, and he subsequently fell sick and died thirty-three days later.

 

John Tyler (1841 to 1845)

Tyler was Harrison’s Vice President. He paved the way for the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states that the Vice President is first in the line of succession if a President dies during their term. After Harrison died from sickness, he persuaded everyone that he should just become President.

He’s perhaps the most hated President. His own party expelled him while he was in office, and his whole cabinet resigned because they didn’t agree with his policies. On top of this, he is the first President to face impeachment.

 

James K. Polk (1845 to 1849)

Polk banned alcohol, card games, and dancing at the White House. What a party pooper!

 

Zachary Taylor (1849 to 1850)

While celebrating the Fourth of July, Taylor ate some cherries and drank iced milk to wash them down. There must’ve been bad bacteria in either the cherries or the milk, because he fell gravely ill and died a few days later.

 

Millard Fillmore (1850 to 1853)

There’s not much to say about Fillmore, except that he married his schoolteacher.

 

Franklin Pierce (1853 to 1857)

Pierce was an unpopular President, to the point where his party didn’t renominate him for a second term. When he left office, he said: “There is nothing left to do but get drunk”. I bet some people can relate to this statement.

 

James Buchanan (1857 to 1861)

Buchanan is the only President so far to have been a bachelor while in office.

There was speculation about his sexuality though. It arose from his close relationship with Alabama Senator William Rufus King. The two of them lived together for over ten years, despite each having enough money to own their own homes. But it was never confirmed if they were a couple – they could’ve just been very close friends!

 

Abraham Lincoln (1861 to 1865)

Well-known for freeing the slaves, Lincoln is less known for being a really good wrestler – he won about 299 matches!

 

Andrew Johnson (1865 to 1869)

Johnson was the first President to be subject to an impeachment trial; he was acquitted at the end of it.

In his younger days, he was an indentured servant to a tailor. The skills he learned during his time with the tailor were put to good use: he made all his own suits while in the White House.

 

Ulysses S. Grant (1869 to 1877)

Grant couldn’t stand the sight of blood, which is ironic because he’s well-known for being the Commanding General during the Civil War.

 

Rutherford B. Hayes (1877 to 1881)

Hayes was the victor of one of the most disputed presidential elections in U.S. history. He lost the popular vote by 250,000, but won the Electoral College by a single vote.

He was known as “Granny Hayes” because he didn’t drink, smoke, or gamble.

 

James A. Garfield (1881)

Garfield was ambidextrous and could write in Greek with one hand and in Latin with the other at the same time. What an incredible skill set!

 

Chester A. Arthur (1881 to 1885)

Arthur owned an elaborate wardrobe. He had over 80 pairs of pants! This earned him the nickname “Elegant Arthur”.

 

Grover Cleveland (1885 to 1889, 1893 to 1897)

Cleveland is the only person so far to have been elected President for two non-consecutive terms. This means he’s ranked as both the twenty-second and twenty-fourth President.

Cleveland was the legal guardian of his friend’s orphaned daughter, and he ended up marrying her. Bit creepy, but whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Part of his jaw was made of vulcanised rubber.

 

Benjamin Harrison (1889 to 1893)

Benjamin was the grandson of William Henry Harrison.

He was called the “Human Iceberg” because he was stiff with people.

But this stiffness was probably just anxiety. Electricity was installed in the White House while he was President, and he was scared of being electrocuted to the point where he refused to touch the light switches. So he always went to bed with the lights on.

 

William McKinley (1897 to 1901)

McKinley wore carnations everywhere because he considered them his good luck charm. On 6th September 1901, he gave a girl the carnation he was wearing on his lapel. He was shot shortly after, and died the following week.

‘This Type of Exchange’ by Jess M. Miller

9:53

London Bridge is down.

That’s what they’ll say when the Queen dies. He’s read about it online. Couldn’t get the image out of his head. It ought to be something similar, over here. Eagle is down. That’s what they say in action films. It was Clinton’s code name, and it works better than anything. It works so well that he barely remembers the actual code. But this is not an action film; there is no script, and they have no other selves to escape to when this is over. Alice has been his secretary for seventeen years. Her face is blotched and gushing, ugly in the way that on-screen women rarely get to be.

‘A sniper, Ted. A sniper.’ She talks to him in the way that she builds his schedule, in bullet points which live up to their name, words that carry death.

Secret Service men spill in behind her, black and slick like ravens. ‘Come with us, sir,’ they say. But his brain is sludge. He can’t remember how to work his legs.

9:54

Slowly, he peels back his cuff to look at his watch, at the engraving on the other side facing his skin. Gratias ago. Thank you, in Latin. An inauguration present, the precursor to this present, he supposes—and for a moment he is a child at Christmas. Bleary and confused under wrapping paper; not sure if this present is the right shape, whether it matches what he asked for. But this is not the kind of present you scrawl down on paper. He unloops the watch from his wrist, lies it face-down on his desk. Not his desk anymore. He looks straight at Alice, takes her all in. This type of exchange is almost as heavy as she is. The next one will be different. The next exchange will not recognise the one now.

‘Sir, we have to move quickly.’

Eagle is down. He nods. He stands.

9:55

Alice steps towards him but the ravens push her back, lead her to the couch. An agent’s jacket catches on his holster. The momentary glimpse of a Glock 9 mm. Has he ever used it? Will he need to use it again? Does he ever think about it, on nights when he can’t sleep?

‘You think too much.’ Eagle’s words, just the other day. ‘You think more than all of Congress put together.’ It had been meant in affection. Let go in those few precious moments of exhale between the 8.45 and the 8.50, on a day still too young for malice, a day they’d let sleep in while they’d worked. Their own staff bleary-eyed since five thirty; their wives recently left for that peace conference in Geneva.

Hazel. Does she know? Has she seen it on the news? He should call her. But he’s left his phone on the desk, and they won’t let him turn back now.

9:56

These portraits on the corridor wall have watched him trudge by for two years and nine months. They’ve seen his bad days and his good days, his wins, and his losses. This convocation of eagles. Their faces stretched across time, across bank notes and history books. His Eagle looming at the end of the procession—the man with the shoes that will be the biggest to fill.

Ted’s own feet are two full sizes smaller. He is two inches shorter, twenty pounds heavier. They will have to expand the nest, add sticks and twigs and shiny things.

The corners of the painted man’s mouth are turned up in a smile. Tobacco has crinkled him in real life, but they haven’t painted that, of course, they haven’t. Smoking is a bad habit. And the President doesn’t have bad habits. Eagle told him that once, four moves from checkmate, ash collecting like dust on the shoulders of his knights. Both their ties dangling from the Deputy Chief of Staff’s office lamp. There was a man outside their door, but they liked to imagine that no-one knew about them here, playing chess in this deliberately abandoned office.

‘I don’t smoke,’ he’d said, and tapped his cigarette. ‘There is a reason, Ted, why your title includes the word vice and mine doesn’t. Ask the press. Any decent reporter will tell you that what you’re seeing now is an illusion—and the press only prints the truth. We all know that.’

He looks at the empty space on the wall. His own portrait will hang there soon. He wonders what they’ll paint out of him, to make him match the others. He lingers. And then the ravens carry him away, around the corner, and there it is. His oval office. His nest of shiny things. He looks once more around him. And then in his head, he says, action.

9:57

Cameras. Click, flash, click, flash. Like an old movie. He is photographed into being. The Secret Service steps away. One by one. Click, flash. His first captured moments. Frank walks over. Holds him by the shoulders. Click, flash. Everyone is there. The leaders of the free world. Of the saved and the damned. The ravens, the vultures. All the other birds. The Chief Justice picks up her Bible. He is sure to take short, sharp breaths, to paint shock and grief in nuanced layers onto his face. He’s been practising.

Networks will broadcast his moment across the world. Across time and bank notes and history books. And the press only prints the truth. We all know that, don’t we, Eagle? We all know you do nothing wrong, and when you do it’s either left out of the painting or passed on down, to the Vice President, because there’s a reason the title is called that, there is a reason these four letters distinguish the eagle from the crow. Because the Vice President will take your punches for you, won’t he? He helped you get here and asked no questions and certainly won’t ask any questions now. But your Vice President thinks too much. You told him that yourself. Gratias ago. Thank you, very much, for the advice.

‘Sir, please raise your right hand and repeat after me.’

Click, flash.

 

Written by Jess M. Miller.

Artwork by Rhianna Carr.