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44 Presidents, 44 Facts You Probably Didn't Know

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It's Presidents Day and while many of us will be taking the opportunity to enjoy 30% off bath towels and other linens, it's important that we also spend a moment reflecting on the commanders-in-chief we've elected thus far.

With that in mind, we once again present 44 lesser-known facts about the leaders of this nation. Ever wanted to imagine John Quincy Adams naked? Too late, you will now.

So enjoy your day off by learning a few things... and seriously, take advantage of those sales. You NEED new sheets.

  • 1
    Washington's Teeth Weren't Wooden
    MediaWiki
    Contrary to popular belief, the country's first president had dentures made of gold, ivory, lead, and animal teeth.
  • 2
    Adams Used To Skip School
    MediaWiki
    As a young boy, John Adams would often skip school, choosing instead to spend his time hunting and fishing.
  • 3
    Thomas Jefferson Founded The University Of Virginia
    MediaWiki
    Jefferson founded the university in 1819 on land that once belonged to eventual President James Monroe. Jefferson is the only president to have ever founded an institution of higher learning.
  • 4
    Madison Was Princeton's First Grad Student
    After finishing his undergraduate degree in 2 years, James Madison stayed at the university for an additional year, making him the Ivy League institution's first graduate student.
  • 5
    The Capital Of Liberia Was Named After Monroe
    MediaWiki
    Because of his prominent support for the colonization of Liberia, the country decided to name their capital city, Monrovia, after James Monroe.
  • 6
    John Quincy Adams Regularly Skinny-Dipped In The Potomac
    WikiMedia:
    Adams was known for his early morning dips in D.C.'s main waterway, always in the nude.
  • 7
    Andrew Jackson Taught His Parrot To Curse
    MediaWiki
    The parrot had to be removed from President Jackson's funeral because it wouldn't stop swearing.
  • 8
    Martin Van Buren Popularized The Phrase "OK"
    WikiMedia:
    Supposedly, President Van Buren popularized one of the most commonly used phrases to date: "OK", or "Okay". Van Buren was from Kinderhook, NY which was also called "Old Kinderhook". His support groups came to be known as "O.K. Clubs" and the term OK came to mean "all right".
  • 9
    William Henry Harrison Had A Pet Goat
    MediaWiki
    During his brief tenure as President, Harrison had a pet billy goat with him at the White House.
  • 10
    John Tyler Was An Awesome Violinist
    MediaWiki
    During his presidency, Tyler often played violin at parties to entertain guests at the White House, and he actually aspired to be a concert violinist.
  • 11
    James Polk Promised Not To Seek A Second Term If Elected
    MediaWiki
    Polk, probably aware that many other politicians desired to run for the office, made an explicit campaign promise that if he was elected president, he would leave after 4 years, a promise that he kept.
  • 12
    Taylor Had A Really Cool Nickname
    MediaWiki
    Zachary Taylor's nickname was "Old Rough And Ready", which he acquired from admiring soldiers while he was fighting in the Seminole War.
  • 13
    Millard Fillmore Married His Teacher
    MediaWiki
    Though she was only about 2 years older than him, Millard Fillmore's first wife Abigail was actually his teacher while he was a 19-year-old student at the New Hope Academy.
  • 14
    Franklin Pierce Didn't Swear His Oath Of Office
    MediaWiki
    He instead affirmed it, placing his hand on a law book rather than the Bible.
  • 15
    Buchanan Was A Bachelor
    MediaWiki
    James Buchanan was the only president to never marry, instead remaining a bachelor his entire life.
  • 16
    Lincoln Was A Great Wrestler
    When Abe Lincoln moved to New Salem, Illinois in 1831, he ran into a local bully named Jack Armstrong. Armstrong challenged Lincoln to a wrestling match outside of Denton Offutt's store, where Lincoln was a clerk, and townspeople gathered to watch and wager on it. Lincoln won.
  • 17
    Andrew Johnson Was Drunk During His Inauguration
    MediaWiki
    He reportedly put back a significant amount of whiskey beforehand and was noticeably drunk during his speech.
  • 18
    Ulysses S. Grant Got A Speeding Ticket On A Horse
    WikiMedia:
    The 18th President Of The United States was given a $20 speeding ticket for riding his horse too fast down a Washington street.
  • 19
    Hayes Banned Alcohol From The White House
    MediaWiki
    During his presidency, Rutherford B. Hayes banned alcohol from the White House, allegedly for political reasons as he tried to gain support from anti-alcohol Prohibitionists.
  • 20
    James A. Garfield Was Ambidextrous
    Not only was he the first president to be both righty and lefty, but it was said he could write a sentence in Latin with one hand and write it in Greek with the other hand.
  • 21
    Chester A. Arthur Was A Sharp Dresser, Night Owl
    WikiMedia:
    Not only was Chester A. Arthur a very sharp dresser (he owned over 80 pairs of pants) but he often took late night strolls around D.C. with friends, not returning home until 3 or 4 in the morning.
  • 22
    Grover Cleveland Was Legal Guardian To The Girl He Later Married
    When Grover Cleveland's law partner Oscar Folsom died, Cleveland became the girl's legal guardian. Frances Folsom was 11 years old at the time. Oddly enough, ten years later, they got married at the White House. She remains the youngest First Lady in the history of the United States, having been just 21 when they married.
  • 23
    Benjamin Harrison Was Afraid Of Electricity
    Getty
    Benjamin Harrison was the sitting president when electricity was first installed in the White House. However, he was scared of being electrocuted and refused to touch the light switches.
  • 24
    Grover Cleveland Had An Artificial Jaw
    MediaWiki
    Since Cleveland is the only president to ever serve two non-consecutive terms, he warrants two slides. While he was president, doctors discovered that Cleveland had a cancerous lesion in his mouth, and they had to remove most of his upper-left jaw as a result. A prosthodontist then installed an artificial jaw made of vulcanized rubber. Cleveland kept the surgery a secret, fearing public concerns over his health, and the entire operation took place on his friend's yacht.
  • 25
    McKinley Was Tech-Savvy
    MediaWiki
    William McKinley was the first presidential candidate to campaign using the telephone.
  • 26
    Theodore Roosevelt Had Really Bad Asthma
    MediaWiki
    In his early childhood, Teddy Roosevelt suffered from very severe asthma. Because there were no inhalers or special treatments for asthma at the time, he was often sick as a young boy. However, he began to regularly exercise in order to combat the illness and, aside from the occasional asthma attack, he eventually overcame it.
  • 27
    Taft Swore In Later Presidents
    AP
    After leaving office, William Taft became the only ex-president to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, effectively becoming the only person to serve as the head of two branches of government. In doing so, he swore in both Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover to the presidency. (On an unrelated note, he also lost 150 pounds after leaving office.)
  • 28
    Woodrow Wilson Had A Ph.D.
    MediaWiki
    To date, he's the only president to hold a doctorate degree, making him the highest educated president in the history of the United States. He was awarded the degree in Political Science and History from Johns Hopkins University. He also passed the Georgia Bar Exam despite not finishing law school.
  • 29
    Warren Harding Lost The White House China In A Poker Game
    WikiMedia:
    Harding really like to gamble, although it seems he wasn't very good at it. In one poker game, he bet the White House china collection and lost it all in one hand.
  • 30
    Calvin Coolidge Had A Really Weird Morning Ritual
    WikiMedia:
    Calvin Coolidge had a morning ritual in which someone rubbed Vaseline on his head while he ate breakfast in bed.
  • 31
    Hoover Spoke Chinese
    WikiMedia:
    Herbert Hoover moved his family to China before becoming President, and he and his wife learned to speak Mandarin Chinese fluently. They would speak the language around the White House to prevent others from understanding them.
  • 32
    FDR Has A Movie Credit
    Late one night at a dinner party, President Franklin Roosevelt regaled guests with a premise for a mystery novel. Magazine editor Fulton Oursler was in in attendance, and he hired some mystery writers to flesh out the premise to a novel, which was then adapted into a movie, "The President's Mystery." FDR received a "story by" credit.
  • 33
    Truman Was A Failed Haberdasher
    MediaWiki
    Before becoming the President of the United States of America, Harry Truman owned a haberdashery business (a men's outfitter), which went bankrupt in 1921.
  • 34
    Eisenhower Almost Had His Leg Amputated
    MediaWiki
    As a freshman in high school, Dwight Eisenhower injured his knee, and the wound caused an infection that doctors feared could kill him. They recommend the leg be amputated, but Eisenhower loved playing sports so much that he refused the operation, and he somehow made a miraculous recovery.
  • 35
    JFK Had A Shoddy Harvard Application
    WikiMedia:
    John F. Kennedy's application to study at Harvard was fairly unimpressive by today's standards. Not only that, but his own father, a Harvard alum, gave him a pretty underwhelming recommendation, saying that young Jack was "careless and lacks application."
  • 36
    LBJ Was Very Comfortable In The Bathroom
    WikiMedia:
    President Johnson was famous among White House staffers for having no shame about asking people to follow him into the bathroom to continue conversations as he relieved himself.
  • 37
    Nixon Was A Card Shark
    WikiMedia:
    While in the Navy, Richard Nixon noticed that his friends were winning money in poker games. Always the opportunist, Nixon had the best poker player in his unit teach him how to play the game. Within only a few months, Nixon had won around $6,000 in poker games, which he used to fund his first congressional campaign.
  • 38
    Gerald And Betty Ford Were Fashion Models
    WikiMedia:
    In the 1940's Gerald Ford did a bit of modeling and even posed on the cover of "Cosmopolitan". His wife Betty was also a dancer and fashion model, who signed with the John Robert Powers modeling firm to finance her dance education.
  • 39
    Carter Was A Peanut Farmer
    MediaWiki
    When he was younger, Jimmy Carter took over and ran his family's peanut farm. As a tribute to his past, he had a giant peanut-shaped balloon in his inaugural parade.
  • 40
    Ronald Reagan Did Stand-Up
    WikiMedia:
    In 1954, Ronald Reagan's acting career was going so badly that he took a gig as a Las Vegas stand-up comic for a few weeks.
  • 41
    George H.W. Bush Was A Really Good Athlete
    MediaWiki
    In high school, Bush was the captain of both the varsity baseball and soccer teams, and he played as a forward on the school's basketball team.
  • 42
    Bill Clinton Is A Two-Time Grammy Winner
    MediaWiki
    Clinton took home the 2004 Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album For Children along with Mikhail Gorbachev and Sophia Loren for their narration on the Russian National Symphony's "Wolf Tracks and Peter and the Wolf". Then in 2005, he won the Best Spoken Word Grammy for the audiobook of "My Life". His wife, Hillary Clinton, also won a Best Spoken Word Grammy for the audiobook of 1997's "It Takes A Village".
  • 43
    George W. Bush Was A Cheerleader In High School
    MediaWiki
    As a high school student, in addition to playing baseball, George W. Bush was the school's head cheerleader. He would often organize exuberant pep talks and skits during weekly assemblies.
  • 44
    Barack Obama Is A Comic Book Nerd
    Alamy
    President Obama collects "Spiderman" and "Conan The Barbarian" comic books, and has even read every "Harry Potter" book.

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Filed by Carol Hartsell