Bizarre Facts about 10 U.S. Presidents That Sound Unbelievable but are True
While you may know something about each of these leader’s political leanings, their personal likes and dislikes may be lesser known. Our presidents have had their share of embarrassing moments or peculiar eccentricities – like Grant being ticketed for speeding or Hoover’s staff hiding in bushes at his request! These are the tidbits you probably were not taught in history class.
We thought it would be fun to take a peek into the lives of the U.S. Presidents and see what unique information is out there. These may not be deep, dark secrets but they give great insight into the private life of those called “Mr. President.” We hope you enjoy this unique look at these leaders who have shaped our country and some of their bizarre quirks.
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
1 . George Washington, "The General" (1789-97)
His false teeth and their composition are often the most remembered unusual fact shared about Washington. He started losing them in his 20s, and only one tooth remained at his inauguration. Instead, he wore dentures made of cow or horse teeth, and ivory – not wood– which a common misconception.
One other vanity remains that is equally astounding. George Washington did not wear a wig. It was his real hair shown in paintings. Equally interesting is that he was a redhead but as was the fashion of his day, he powdered his hair to be white.
Photo courtesy: Mount Vernon
2. John Adams, “Sink or Swim” (1797-1801)
He gained his nickname “Sink or Swim” due to his speech for Independence.“Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart to this vote.”
But his nickname also gave a clue to his very strong personality. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin took a diplomatic trip together. Due to the customs of the day and the packed lodging houses, the men had to stay in the same bed together.
Their tight quarters began the debate of a century – does cold air cause colds? Adams was adamant that Franklin’s desire to keep the window open would get them both sick. Franklin was determined that the stale air in the room was the cause of illness and that fresh air was just what the pair needed. After a heated exchange, Adams saw neither would “win”. He relented, opened the window, and was lulled to sleep by Franklin’s dissertation on the effects of fresh air on the human immune system!
Photo courtesy: History.com
3. Thomas Jefferson, “The Sage of Monticello” (1801-09)
In 1786, Jefferson and John Adams visited the home of William Shakespeare. Apparently, so overwhelmed with the experience, he decided to take home a memento. He chipped off a piece of Shakespeare’s chair as a souvenir!As noted on Monticello’s website, there is indeed a chip of wood that remains and a note, written in Mr. Jefferson’s own hand declaring his deed.
“A chip cut from an armed chair in the chimney corner in Shakespear’s house at Stratford on Avon, said to be the identical chair in which he usually wrote, if true, like the relicks of the saints, it must miraculously reproduce itself. Cut by myself in 1785.”
Photo courtesy: History.com
4. Abraham Lincoln, “The Rail Splitter” (1861-65)
Lincoln was quite the tinkerer. He loved to analyze and create. He is the only U.S. President to hold a patent for one of his inventions (U.S. Patent No. 6469).
After having spent time in his youth on river boats, he knew the necessity of being able to raise the boat above treacherous shoals. Lincoln’s design created a balloon or bellows system that would raise the ships higher in shallow water to avoid running aground.
Lincoln has remained a dynamic character study for many. Not only because of his placement in U.S. history, but also due to his complex personality, and dramatic features. Garner Holt Production has recently created an animated Lincoln based on the facial expressions marked in photographs of him. While some of the expressions are downright scary, it’s truly fascinating to imagine what he would have looked like in life!
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Homemade Tools
5. Theodore Roosevelt, “The Lion” (1901-09)
On a tour of the American West, “Teddy” Roosevelt’s train stopped in Sharon Springs, Kansas. As the townsfolk gathered around his opulent train car, Roosevelt noticed a little girl who asked if he would like a pet badger. He gladly accepted, thinking it was a joke. She ran away and promptly returned with a baby badger! Roosevelt, a lover of animals wasn’t leaving the badger behind!
"One treasure, by the way, is a very small badger which I named Josiah, and he is now called Josh for short. He is very cunning and I hold him in my arms and pet him." Roosevelt wrote his son, Kermit. [Presidential Pet Museum]
The badger joined a menagerie of other animals at the White House, including a macaw, pony, snakes, and a one-legged rooster. As bottle fed Josiah “Josh” the badger grew, he became quite the handful nipping at visitors ankles and hissing. He was quickly transferred to the Bronx Zoo.
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
6. William Howard Taft, "Big Chief" (1909-13)
President Taft was not a small man. He tipped the scales at over 350 pounds. He served as a Supreme Court Chief Justice, but is more popularly remembered as the president who found himself stuck in the White House bathtub! While there is no document to back up this fact, there is documentation to prove that while he was in office the White House installed a "super-sized" bathtub.
More than 7 feet long and 41 inches wide, it shocked the nation when a photograph of four men sitting comfortably surfaced in the Engineering Review!
Photo courtesy: US Smithsonian (via History.com)
7. Franklin. D. Roosevelt, “F.D.R” or “The Boss” (1933-45)
Most remembered as the president during World War II who gave the famous “day that will live in infamy” speech. Roosevelt suffered from polio and was in a wheelchair but worked hard to keep his weakness hidden from the populous. He had many hobbies but none such as passionate as his stamp collection.
By the time of his death, he had over 1 million stamps! It is believed that a day never passed that he worked on his collection, started as a young child.
“I owe my life to my hobbies – especially stamp collecting.” FDR, [Popular Mechanics 1934]
FDR enjoyed the process of designing and brainstorming over new stamp patterns. He was known to have frequently met with the Postmaster General, James A. Farley to discuss the stamps for circulation.
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
8. John F. Kennedy, “Boss” (1961-63)
While he was working as a Senator in Florida, JFK and radio celebrity, Larry King had a fender bender. King wrote in his autobiography that he was new to the area, straight from Brooklyn. While driving he found himself distracted by swanky Florida homes. Through his recollection, King said that JFK was rather upset about the situation.
"How could you?" Kennedy yelled. "Early Sunday morning, no traffic, not a cloud in the sky, I'm parked-how could you run into me?"
Larry King shared that after calming down, JFK agreed to ignore the situation if King promised to vote for him in the next elections!
Photo courtesy: JFK Museum/Larry King Google Image
9. Ronald Reagan, “Dutch” (1981-89)
In order to kick his tobacco addiction, Hollywood-actor-turned-politician Reagan took up eating jelly beans instead. “Dutch” (labeled due to his hair cut and appearance) wasn’t actually a fan of the beans, until he came across the brand Jelly Belly. His infatuation was so great with the candy that he was known to have kept containers all over the White House meeting spaces. Jelly Belly corporation sent countless batches of their jelly beans to the White House for the president to snack on.
Photo courtesy: JellyBelly
10. Donald Trump, “The Donald” (2017-present)
His older brother, Fred Trump, suffered from alcoholism which eventually took his life in 1981. President Trump holds to this day that because of the urgings of his older brother to not smoke or drink, he rarely drinks alcohol and admits to having never smoked.
"…he really helped me. I had somebody that guided me, and he had a very, very, very tough life because of alcohol. Believe me. Very, very tough, tough life. He was a strong guy, but it was a tough, tough thing that he was going through. But I learned because of Fred. I learned. And that's what I think is so important." Trump shared in a speech.
There have been times where at diplomatic events a toast was required (recent U.N. meeting for example) and the President has been seen to raise his glass. Whether or not he abstained is still debated. What does seem to be clear is that he cared about his brother and the advice he gave him.
Photo courtesy: The Nation
Based on the article "Bizarre Facts about U.S. Presidents That Sound Unbelievable but are True" on GodUpdates.com. Used with permission.
Publication date: March 8, 2018