Monday, February 21, 2011

It's Presidents' Day! Rejoice in all its splendor!

On this joyous occasion, which I rank somewhere below Easter but well above Valentine's Day or Labor Day, I thought I would take this opportunity to relay some incredibly important factoids about our country's past Chief Executives.  Here we go:

1. The inauguration of Andrew Johnson as Abraham Lincoln's vice-president in 1865 was marred slightly by the fact that Johnson was incredibly drunk.

Andrew Johnson.  People were uglier 150 years ago
2. These days, most presidents have a cat or a dog as their presidential pet. However, John Quincy Adams and Herbert Hoover both had pet alligators, Calvin Coolidge had two lions, a wallaby, and a pygmy hippopotamus (among others), while Theodore Roosevelt kept a badger called Josiah who used to bite people.

Teddy Roosevelt.  There is a reason he is on Mt Rushmore.  He was a Bad Motherf**ker.

3. William Henry Harrison's 1841 term as the ninth president is the shortest ever - he made it through just under 31 days of presidency before inconveniently dying of pneumonia.

4. Sucky presidential nicknames: Andrew Jackson was known as 'Old Hickory', Ulysses S. Grant was unflatteringly known as 'Unconditional Surrender Grant', short-lived William Henry Harrison was 'Tippecanoe', and Zachary Taylor revelled in the name 'Old Rough And Ready'.

The name "Old Hickory" had nothing to do with his virility.  I think.

5. Twentieth president James Garfield had a party trick in which he would simultaneously write in Latin with one hand, and Ancient Greek with the other. Both of which are now worthless languages.

6. The only president to get married in the White House was Grover Cleveland in 1886. The 49-year-old Cleveland married 21-year-old Frances Folsom, who he called 'Frank', and whose legal guardian he had previously been after her father (a close friend of his) died. It seems President Clinton wasn't the first with a taste for the young ladies.

7. The Secret Service has codenames for the president, vice-president and their family members. Ronald Reagan was 'Rawhide', George H. W. Bush was 'Timberwolf', Bill Clinton was 'Eagle', George W. Bush was 'Trailblazer' and Barack Obama is 'Renegade'. .

8. William Howard Taft was the heaviest American president - so large that he occasionally got stuck in the White House bath, and had to be helped out by aides. He eventually got a bigger bath.
9. In elections since the end of WWII, the taller of the two main party candidates has won the election 75% of the time. Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush are the only post-war presidents to have defeated taller rivals. Since 1900, nobody under the height of 5ft 9in has ever won the presidential election.  I'm 5'11", so technically I still have a shot.   

10. Thomas Jefferson, the third (and many would say greatest) president of the United States invented the swivel chair.


Mr. F


  1. 11. James is the most common presidential first name.

  2. i can't say that i remember much of my white house tour except that the dishes nancy bought sure looked fancy and the tour guide almost made a dive for my camera when i transferred it from one hand to the other when i was in the oval office.