Real Talk

Fun presidential facts

As we prepare for our 45th U.S. president, how well do you know presidents 1–44? Discover something unique about each of them, from Washington to Obama!

1. George Washington

Refused his presidential salary of $25,000 a year.

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2. John Adams

Alleged last words on July 4, 1826, 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence: “Thomas Jefferson survives.” The two were friendly rivals, but Adams didn’t realize Jefferson had died earlier the same day.

3. Thomas Jefferson

First president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.

4. James Madison

Once arrested (together with Thomas Jefferson) for taking a carriage ride on Sunday in the Vermont countryside … illegal at the time!

5. James Monroe

Has a city in Africa named after him: Monrovia, capital of Liberia.

6. John Quincy Adams

Loved to “skinny dip” in the Potomac River.

7. Andrew Jackson

Had a pet parrot that enjoyed swearing; some say Jackson’s parrot began cursing at the president’s own funeral.

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8. Martin Van Buren

Wrote an autobiography after serving as president, and never mentioned his wife of 12 years … not even once.

9. William Henry Harrison

Holds the record for longest inauguration speech in history: 8,578 words long, lasting an hour and 40 minutes. But he delivered that speech in terrible weather, caught pneumonia, and died a month later.

13. Millard Fillmore

His wife Abigail had the first running-water bathtub installed in the White House (keep reading to learn who frequently got stuck in said bathtub)!

14. Franklin Pierce

Took the oath of office with his hand on a law book, not the Bible.

15. James Buchanan

Still the only bachelor president!

16. Abraham Lincoln

A licensed bartender, he co-owned the Springfield, Illinois, saloon Berry and Lincoln.

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17. Andrew Johnson

The only tailor ever to be president: he only wore suits he’d made himself.

18. Ulysses S. Grant

Smoked upwards of 20 cigars a day! After his war victory, he was sent 10,000 cigars. He later died of throat cancer.

19. Rutherford B. Hayes

Struggled in his younger life with “lyssophobia”: the fear of going insane.

20. James Garfield

First president ever to talk on the phone. His first call was with Alexander Graham Bell, 13 miles away. Garfield to Bell: “Please speak a little more slowly.”

21. Chester Arthur

A well-dressed man, Arthur was said to own 80 pairs of pants.

22. and 24. Grover Cleveland

Nicknamed “the human iceberg” due to his frosty personality.

23. Benjamin Harrison

Harrison’s father’s body was stolen by grave robbers and sold for use as a training cadaver at an Ohio college.

25. William McKinley

Said to have worn a red carnation in his lapel, which he gave to a young girl just moments before his assassination.

26. Theodore Roosevelt

Every member of his family owned a pair of stilts … even the first lady!

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27. William Howard Taft

Nicknamed “Big Bill,” the largest president in U.S. history reputedly kept getting stuck in the White House bathtub.

28. Woodrow Wilson

His image appears on the $100,000 bill, which has mostly been replaced by wire transfers.

29. Warren Harding

A bit of a gambling addict, he allegedly lost a set of White House china in a poker game.

30. Calvin Coolidge

The only president born on the 4th of July.

31. Herbert Hoover

Hoover's family had two pet alligators, which sometimes strolled into the White House.

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fifth cousin of Theodore Roosevelt: they shared the same great-great-great-great-grandparents.

33. Harry S. Truman

The “S” in his name doesn’t stand for anything! Truman had no middle name.

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Was a qualified pilot.

41. George H.W. Bush

The only president with four names: George Herbert Walker Bush.

42. Bill Clinton

Once won a “My Little Pony” quiz on an NPR show.

43. George W. Bush

Was head cheerleader at his high school.

44. Barack Obama

Collects comic books. Favorites? Spiderman and Conan the Barbarian!

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Degrees Digital Magazine | Issue 9

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