Unusual Facts About U.S. Presidents For Presidents’ Day

GEORGE WASHINGTON – Despite popular myth, his dentures weren’t made of wood. They were made of hippopotamus ivory, bone, animal and human teeth, lead, brass screws and gold wire. So where did the wood theory come from? Some historians believe that Washington’s fondness for dark wine stained the fractures in his false teeth, giving off the look of grainy wood.

JAMES MADISON – Our smallest president stood at 5’4″ and weighed around 100 pounds.

JAMES MONROE – Due to his penchant for outdated Revolutionary War era dress, Monroe’s nickname was “The Last Cocked Hat.” He ran unopposed for his re-election, something that has only happened one other time in U.S. history (George Washington).

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS – The son of our second president, John Quincy Adams was known for skinny dipping in the Potomac River every morning. A reporter took advantage of that information and sat on his clothes until he would grant her an interview.

MARTIN VAN BUREN – The first president to be born in the U.S. Known as “Old Kinderhook” because he was from a town in upstate New York called Kinderhook. The nickname was used during his 1840 election campaign in the form of supporters carrying around signs marked OK. The abbreviation became popular around this time and we use it to this day.

MILLARD FILLMORE – Fillmore married his schoolteacher. Other than that, most historians don’t really have much to say about him. Even the White House website calls him “an uninspiring man.”

JAMES BUCHANAN – The only bachelor to be president, although he may not have been truly single. There was a lot of speculation about his sexuality and close relationship with Alabama Senator William Rufus King. The two lived together for more than 10 years, despite being rich enough to have their own homes. Andrew Jackson called them “Miss Nancy and Aunt Fancy” behind their backs.

ULYSSES S. GRANT – Grant was supposed to be in Lincoln’s theater box on the night of his assassination, but changed plans at the last minute. He regretted not being there for the rest of his life because he believed he could have stopped it from happening.

JAMES A. GARFIELD – He was ambidextrous and could write in Greek with one hand and in Latin with the other at the same time.

GROVER CLEVELAND – Upon the death of his law partner, Cleveland became the legal guardian to his friend’s 11-year-old orphaned daughter. 10 years later, they were married at the White House, making her the youngest First Lady ever at the age of 21.

CALVIN COOLIDGE – Coolidge had a morning ritual of having someone rub Vaseline on his head while he ate breakfast. The unusual also extended to his choice of pets: two raccoons named Reuben and Rebecca, who would sometimes run around the White House.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER – Ike changed the name of FDR’s presidential Maryland retreat from Shangri-la to Camp David. His reason: Shangri-la was “just a little too fancy for a Kansas farm boy.”

JOHN F. KENNEDY – JFK received $1 million on his 21st birthday (all nine brothers and sisters got the same), but that generosity did not extend to the Harvard recommendation letter his father wrote for him. He wrote that Jack was “careless and lacks application.” He got in anyway.

 

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