There’s no doubt, being President of the United States is one of the hardest jobs ever. And While we commend our fearless leaders for their outstanding service, there are some strange and funny facts we bet you didn’t know.
We found hundreds of them, but since President’s Day falls on February 20 this year, we picked out 20 weird facts you can use to impress your friends.
While you’re at it, enjoy some curriculum from our American History courses featured in the Bio Card graphics below. It brings the past alive for Primavera students as they learn about the more serious side of our nation’s history.
20 Surprising U.S. President Facts
1. George Washington (1787–1797)
Our first president gave the shortest inauguration speech. It was only 133 words and lasted less than two minutes! He also didn’t have enough money to get to his inauguration and had to borrow money from a neighbor.
2. John Adams (1797–1801) & Thomas Jefferson (1801–1817)
Presidents Adams and Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826, which happened to be the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. James Monroe (1817-1825) was the last surviving founding father and he died exactly five years later on July 4, 1831.
3. James Monroe (1817–1825)
The capital of Liberia, Monrovia, was named after President James Monroe.
4. Andrew Jackson (1829–1837)
Rumor has it that President Jackson taught his pet parrot how to curse. At his funeral, the bird had to be taken away because it kept swearing!
5. James Buchanan (1857-1861)
To help end the movement, this president bought slaves in Washington D.C. and set them free in Pennsylvania.
6. Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
“Honest Abe” was an amazing wrestler. He competed in about 300 matches, and only lost one of them. He was also the tallest president at 6’4”. Learn more about him in this video.
7. James Garfield (1881)
Get ready for this odd fact: President Garfield was ambidextrous, meaning he could write with both hands. He could even write in Greek with one hand and Latin with the other… at the same time.
8. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
Good ol’ Teddy was shot in the chest while giving a speech. This didn’t stop him from finishing his talk, which lasted an hour and a half!
9. William H. Taft (1909-1913)
President Taft was the largest president weighing in at over 300 pounds. His advisors had to sometimes pull him out of the bathtub. He was also the only president to serve as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
10. Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
Silent Cal liked to press all the buttons on his desk and then hide while his assistants were running in. He would then jump out and say he was just checking to make sure everyone was working.
11. Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
and his wife lived in China before he became elected president. When they wanted to have a private conversation in the White House, they would speak Mandarin.
12. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
Also known as FDR, this president married his cousin, Eleanor Roosevelt. The bride was given away by her uncle (and FDR’s other cousin), former president Theodore Roosevelt. FDR was also distantly related to other presidents including Washington, both Adams, Madison, Van Buren, both Harrisons, Taylor, Grant and Taft.
13. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
General Eisenhower served in both World War I and World War II.
14. Gerald R. Ford (1974–1977)
Two people tried to assassinate Ford in less than a three-week span; they were both females!
15. Ronald Regan (1981-1989) would talk with an astrologer before making major decisions or planning events.
16. William J. Clinton (1993-2001) won two Grammy awards for Best Spoken Word Albums.
17. George W. Bush (2001-2009) was the head cheerleader at his high school.
18. Barack Obama (2009-2017) wanted to be featured in a pin-up calendar in his Harvard days, but unfortunately, the ladies in charge didn’t choose him.
19. Mount Rushmore Presidents
Four presidents’ faces grace Mount Rushmore in South Dakota: George Washington (1789-1797), Thomas Jefferson (1801-1817), Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) and Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909). The monument was created to increase tourism in the region. The sculptures are 60 feet high, the equivalent of a five-story building! Read the whole story here.
20. President Dollar Bills
Ever seen a $500, $1000 or $5000 bill? If so, you may have noticed the faces of William McKinley (1897-1901), Grover Cleveland (1885-1889 and 1893-1897) and James Madison (1809-1817) gracing these bills. Forget the Ben Franklins, and show us the James Madisons, please!
- Do you know any other surprising U.S. President facts? Share with us in the comments below!