By: Sheik Meah on February 18th, 2022
Fun Facts You Didn't Know About U.S. Presidents
Presidents Day: a Monday in February that celebrates our former Commanders in Chief. As a cyber charter school, we appreciate the role that history plays in our lives, and we've compiled some fun facts for you to celebrate the day!
Did you know Presidents Day was actually a way to celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on the same day? Most of you may have known that (and if not, hooray for knowledge!) but here are some facts about our presidents that we are sure many of you did not know!
John Adams took a piece of William Shakespeare's chair as a souvenir.
Prior to our second and third presidents hating one another (another interesting fact), John Adams and Thomas Jefferson traveled together to Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon, where John Adams chipped off a piece of one of William Shakespeare’s chairs. Oddly enough, both men died on the same day, July 4th, 1826. And if you are doing the math in your head, yes, that was indeed the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson invented the swivel chair.
It is also on a swivel chair that Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence. He also made mac & cheese popular by serving it to dinner guests during his presidency. Before the Industrial Revolution, only upper classes could enjoy pasta, so many of the working class couldn’t even get their forks into this classic comfort food.
Martin Van Buren was the first president born in the U.S.
Our sixth leader, Martin Van Buren, was actually the first president who was born in the U.S. He had a lot of nicknames, but the most long-lasting nickname goes to "Old Kinderhook," which 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.
Abraham Lincoln was a bartender.
Not only was Lincoln a licensed bartender before he became president, but he also was a world-class wrestler. He only lost one of approximately 300 matches. Eat your heart out, Hulk Hogan!
Ulysses S. Grant was supposed to be in the theater box with Lincoln when he was shot.
Grant regretted not being there, as he believed he could have prevented Lincoln from being killed. He also hated the sight of blood, which is odd considering his Civil War history and he dismantled the KKK during his presidency.
Teddy Bears were created to honor Theodore Roosevelt.
There was a rumor that Teddy Roosevelt was on a hunting trip and refused to shoot a bear cub, even though he was encouraged to do so by his companions. Once the story got out, a toy maker made the bears in his honor.
Woodrow Wilson was married to a descendant of Pocahontas.
President Wilson’s wife, Edith Bolling Gant, had more than that going for her. Due to incredible stress during 1919 (and there was A LOT that happened in 1919), the president had a series of strokes. This left him partially paralyzed and almost blind, so he relied on his wife to help him until his presidency ended in 1921. This got her the nickname “Presidentress.”
Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover had unusual White House pets.
President Coolidge actually had two pet raccoons in the White House named Reuben and Rebecca that he would let run around the house. Not to be outdone, President Hoover had two pet alligators!
Franklin D. Roosevelt had a lot of family connections.
Not only was FDR related to former president Teddy Roosevelt, but he was also related to George Washington, John Adams, William Taft, Martin Van Buren, and even Winston Churchill!
JFK's dad gave him a bad review.
When JFK was trying to get into Harvard, he asked his dad to write him a letter of recommendation. Instead, his dad Jack wrote all the reasons Harvard should NOT accept his son, calling him “careless and lacks application.” JFK still got into the school. And you thought Yelp reviews could be harsh!
Gerald Ford is not his real name.
President Ford’s name given to him at birth was Leslie Lynch King, Jr. He also was the only president to never be elected by the voting public to be president or vice president.
Bill Clinton has two Grammy Awards.
President Clinton won a Grammy for best-spoken word album and another for best-spoken word album for children.
George W. Bush was a cheerleader.
Not only was W a male cheerleader, but he was also the head cheerleader for his high school. If you’re going to do something, you might as well aim for the top! (Another fun fact: he wasn’t the first cheerleader among presidents!)
There are many, many other fun things you can learn about our previous and current president.
For example, President Trump refused to drink alcohol in honor of his brother Freddy, who died of alcoholism in his 40s. Or there’s the fact that President Obama hated ice cream because of a job he had as a teenager.
There are a ton of facts about the 46 leaders of our country, and we challenge you to find more as we all celebrate Presidents Day. Share your findings in the comments!
NOTE: This blog was originally published in February 2022 and has been updated for accuracy of content.
About the Author: Sheik Meah is the Director of Marketing and Communications at PA Virtual.
Photo credit to 12019/10258 on Pixabay; Vancouver Bites via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0); Smithsonian Museum of Natural History via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0); and David Hume Kennerly, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.