He Did WHAT?! – The presidential facts you need to know for Presidents’ Day

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As children, we’re told about George Washington’s lying, lumberjack ways and his set of wooden chops. The best part about these facts is that’s exactly what they’re not—there’s no proof for any of them. Out of 44 presidents, the following are probably some of the most well-known. What you didn’t learn about as a kid was the real and crazy shit going on behind the scenes that only a select amount of people knew about. You are now a part of the select. You’re welcome. 

  1. George Washington: Nobody in the military will ever outrank good ol’ George. He was the father of both the military and the United States.
  2. John Adams: He hated Thomas Jefferson, but was lowkey his best friend. They corresponded ‘til the day they both died: July 4, 1826. Adams is quoted hatefully saying, “Jefferson survives,” but little did he know that Jefferson died earlier that morning.
  3. Thomas Jefferson: He hated John Adams, but together they were badass mofos. They visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, and they both chipped off a piece of his chair as a souvenir.
  4. James Madison: He and his wife, Dolley, loved ice cream. They often served it at the White House on special occasions. Their favorite flavor was oyster. YUM.
  5. James Monroe: Being the last founding father to live, he surprisingly died on the birthday of America. He died five years after John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on July 4, 1831.
  6. John Quincy Adams: While most presidents bathed their children in the White House bathtub, he used it for the crocky mate he owned. Meanwhile he took his baths in the Potomac River in the nude. Just lovely.
  7. Andrew Jackson: He had a pet parrot that he taught to curse. When the parrot was at his funeral, it had to be removed because of its dirty mouth. Too bad Orbit gum wasn’t around during this time.
  8. Martin Van Buren: He was the first president to be born an American citizen, the guys before him were all British. Awesome. Finally an American.
  9. William Henry Harrison: Holding the record for the longest inauguration speech in US History makes him pretty awesome, but the fact he died from pneumonia a month later from said inauguration speech makes him a bummer.
  10. John Tyler: The federal government didn’t recognize his death for 63 years because he was seen as a traitor to the United States after siding with the Confederacy during the Civil War. He was a very unpopular man.
  11. James K. Polk: He only had one term in office, but he is considered one of the best presidents ever. He fulfilled all of his campaign promises and was the most successful of any president.
  12. Zachary Taylor: He caused his own death by eating some rotten cherries and drinking a glass of milk. He died five days later. Refrigerators sure do save lives.
  13. Millard Fillmore: He was a huge bibliophile; him and his wife founded the first White House library. He single handedly tried to stop a fire at the Library of Congress himself. A true American hero who stopped the fire, in the end.
  14. Franklin Pierce: Sadly, he suffered from alcoholism and lost all three of his sons before they turned the age of 12. He didn’t run for reelection; instead he took care of his wife by traveling with her to Europe and the Bahamas.
  15. James Buchanan: He was super cool, because instead of buying and owning slaves like the previous presidents, Buchanan bought slaves in D.C. and then set them free in Pennsylvania. He was also the only bachelor ever in the White House.
  16. Abraham Lincoln: Before being President, Lincoln was not only a lawyer, but a bomb ass bartender and a wrestler who only lost one out of his 300 fights.
  17. Andrew Johnson: Drunk during his inauguration speech, he made people notice that he had drank a ton of whiskey beforehand. Wasn’t that a nice way to start off ruining Reconstruction?
  18. Ulysses S. Grant: He died of throat cancer after smoking over 20 cigars a day.
  19. Rutherford B. Hayes: He banned alcohol in the White House and held sing-alongs to the gospel every night. Wouldn’t that be a fun event to attend?
  20. James A. Garfield: He was ambidextrous and could write in Latin in one hand and Greek with the other. Aristotle would be so proud.
  21. Chester A. Arthur: He couldn’t stand to wear one pair of pants a day, so he changed them multiple times. He owned nearly 80 pairs of pants, talk about fashionisto.
  22. Grover Cleveland: He was the only president to be married in the White House, to his warden, Frances, who was only 21. Because that’s not gross at all.
  23. Benjamin Harrison: He was the first president with electricity in the White House, but he and his wife were so afraid of being electrocuted that they barely touched the light switches.
  24. Grover Cleveland: He was commissioned as sheriff in New York and actually had to hang two people. His job description included hangings, so he had to watch life go out of two people at his own hands. And, he was president twice because he was re-elected in non successive terms, making him no. 22 and no. 24.
  25. William McKinley: He was the first president to ever ride in an automobile, as he was being transported via ambulance to the hospital after he was shot by an assassin. Poor guy.
  26. Theodore Roosevelt: He had a rough and interesting life; his wife and mother died on the same day in the same house with the same name (Alice). He was also the first president to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize, “speak softly and carry a big stick,” as they say.
  27. William Howard Taft: Known as the fattest president, he also was the only president to ever be president and chief justice of the Supreme Court. After his presidency, he also lost 150 pounds. Go get ‘em Taft.
  28. Woodrow Wilson: He lived through two of the most horrific wars in American history, the Civil War and WWI. He also believed in segregation and almost became a member of the KKK. Some good things and not so good things about this man.
  29. Warren G. Harding: He was a sleaze ball, he had sex with a young girl in a White House closet—while his wife had to be stopped by Secret Service from breaking down the door.
  30. Calvin Coolidge: While eating breakfast, in bed, he liked to have his head rubbed with petroleum jelly. Nothing like a scalp of slime to start the day.
  31. Herbert Hoover: Him and his wife knew Mandarin Chinese (after moving back from China before his presidency) and they would speak it around the White House so no one would understand them. That’s one way to keep people out of your business.
  32. Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Not only considered an amazing president, he also has a shit ton of presidential lineage. He is related to 11 presidents: George Washington, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, James Madison, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. He was also distantly related to Winston Churchill.
  33. Harry S Truman: The S doesn’t actually stand for anything. It’s just a letter to make him look cool.
  34. Dwight D. Eisenhower: He almost couldn’t be a war hero of WWI and WWII because he got an infection so serious in his leg that doctors almost amputated it. Good thing they didn’t. Later, His son, David, was the namesake for the now infamous Presidential Retreat center: Camp David. He’s just a hero all-around.
  35. John F. Kennedy: He received his last rites (under his Catholic faith) an almost unprecedented number of four times in his life; once in 1947 in England, once in 1951 in Japan, once in 1954 in the United States, and finally in Dallas in 1963.
  36. Lyndon B. Johnson: He named his downstairs area ‘Jumbo.’ He would pull it out randomly to give explanations for things like the Vietnam War. He was an imaginative dude.
  37. Richard Nixon: He had one of the best poker players in the world teach him how to play poker. He became a card shark and won $6000 to fund his congressional campaign. An interesting way to earn money for an election.
  38. Gerald Ford: He was a cool dad. He held his daughter’s high school prom in the White House. That would be the best prom to attend.
  39. Jimmy Carter: The only president to win a Nobel Peace Prize outside the office of the President. He won the Prize in 2002 for his continuous efforts in trying to find solutions in international conflicts peacefully. Whatta nice man.
  40. Ronald Reagan: He received some of the most outstanding poll numbers ever received by a candidate running for president in United States history. He received 525 electoral votes, 58.8% of the popular vote, and won 49 out of the 50 states.
  41. George H. W. Bush: He banned broccoli on Air Force One because he didn’t like it. He said he was president and he can ban broccoli on his own plane.
  42. Bill Clinton: During an interview with NPR host, Peter Sagal, he aced a My Little Pony Quiz, proving that he is a badass.
  43. George W. Bush: He was head cheerleader in his senior year of high school. Go USA.
  44. Barack Obama: He collects comic books. Spiderman and Conan the Barbarian are among his favorites. He’s a nerd just like the rest of us!
  45. Donald Trump: He tried to trademark his famous phrase, “You’re fired.” He failed.


Veronica Finniss is a senior double majoring in professional writing and history. She enjoys binge reading and suffocating under mounds of homework. When she isn’t dying, she loves petting dogs on the street and eating sandwiches, burgers and carbs.


Tags: college, college life, facts, fun facts, Michigan State University, MSU, President's day