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Strange Facts About Each US President



To want to be President, you have to be mad enough to run for (and serve in) the most powerful and stressful office in the world. Elected the leader of the free world doesn’t appeal to everyone – but these 44 men certainly saw the attraction in it.

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This list will break down strange facts about each US president – showing you that each of them may be stranger than the last.

#1 – George Washington (1789-1797)


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  • The first US president
  • Washington only left the US once and contracted Smallpox when he did
  • He fashioned his own set of teeth using brass, iron, and ivory
  • George Washington was fond of children but never had any of his own
  • Instead, he owned 317 slaves – 10 of them he inherited at age 11

#2 – John Adams (1797-1801)


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  • John Adams never owned slaves – a controversial position at the time
  • He was the first president whose son also became president (see John Quincy, #6)
  • He lived to 90, which was considered extremely old at the time
  • He couldn’t dance

#3 – Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)

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  • Thomas Jefferson really liked books – he sold 6,500 books from his own library to Congress after he left office
  • He hated his own birthday and refused to allow his friends and family to celebrate it
  • He died on July 4 – exactly 50 years after he co-wrote the Declaration of Independence
  • In 1819, he founded the University of Virginia
  • His gravestone has no mention of his presidency

#4 – James Madison (1809-1817)


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  • He is one of six presidents called James, making it the most popular name for the job
  • Madison is the shortest on this list- standing at 5″4
  • Both of his vice presidents died while in office so he ended his term without one
  • His wife, Dolley Madison, helped shape the role of the First Lady due to her extrovert personality

#5 – James Monroe (1817-1825)

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  • Monroe was largely responsible for the Louisiana Purchase during the Jefferson administration
  • His time in office was named ‘The Era of Good Feelings’ and ran for re-election unopposed, securing all electoral college votes except one.
  • Monroe also died on July 4, sharing the date with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (albeit in different years)
  • James Monroe served as Secretary of State and Secretary of War at the same time – the only person to hold two cabinet positions at once

#6 – John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)

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  • John Quincy Adams is the only man to serve in the House of Representative after his presidency
  • Adams loved to skinny dip – often waking up at 4am to do so
  • Adams was one of the main negotiators for peace between Britain and the US during the War of 1812
  • His election in 1824 was the first time a president won an election despite losing the popular vote, with many calling his victory a ‘Corrupt Bargain’.

#7 – Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)

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  • As the winner of the popular vote four years prior, his eventual win was seen as well-deserved
  • His face appears on the $20 bill even though he always hated paper money
  • Both Carolinas claim to be his birthplace – no one knows which state is correct
  • He is the first president to survive an assassination attempt

#8 – Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)

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  • Van Buren was the first president to be born in the United States
  • His massive 776-page memoir does not mention his presidency or his wife
  • His nickname, ‘Old Kinderhook’, popularized the term ‘OK’
  • English was his second language – his first being Dutch

#9 – William Henry Harrison (1841)


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  • Harrison is the shortest-serving president, holding the office for just 32 days
  • It is rumored he got pneumonia after standing in the cold and rain without a coat during his inauguration
  • His speech was 90 minutes long – the longest to date
  • He was the first president to die in office
  • His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, also became president (see later, #23)

#10 – John Tyler (1841-1845)

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  • He’s the first president to be sworn from a vice-president
  • Tyler had 14 children, all of who survived into adulthood – a rarity at the time
  • After vetoing a popular bill, his entire cabinet resigned with the exception of his Secretary of State
  • After failing to come up with a diplomatic solution to the Secessionists, he joined the Confederacy and was seen as a traitor to the US government. His death wasn’t recognized for 63 years

#11 – James K. Polk (1845-1849)

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  • At the time, he was the youngest person to be sworn in as president – aged 49
  • He is responsible for the Washington Monument which is still standing today
  • He died only three months after leaving office, often writing about the stress of the job and role as commander-in-chief.

#12 – Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)

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  • Taylor died in office after eating a contaminated berry at an Independence Day celebration – spurring rumors that he was poisoned. This has since been debunked
  • Even though he owned slaves, Taylor never publicly stated his support/opposition to the issue, therefore gaining votes from people on both sides of the argument
  • He was a cousin of President James Monroe
  • Zachary Taylor could read but not write

#13 – Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)

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  • He’s most known for the Compromise of 1850 – which attempted to keep the peace between a divided north and south.
  • He fell in love with – and later married – his teacher.
  • He publicly opposed Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War
  • Fillmore never had a vice president
  • He is considered one of the most underwhelming presidents, often called ‘uninspiring’ by historians.

#14 – Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)

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  • Sadly, all three of Pierce’s children died – a main cause for his alcoholism
  • He was the first president to put a Christmas tree in the White House
  • Pierce was never nominated by his party to serve a second term due to an ineffective first term

#15 – James Buchanan (1857-1861)

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  • Buchanan is the only president to never marry – sparking rumors of his sexuality
  • He is blamed for setting the stage for the eventual Civil War
  • He remained a staunch defender of his own administration after leaving office, even though Congress did  not approve of his actions

#16 – Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

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  • He was the first president born outside of the 13 original states
  • He ran for the U.S. Senate twice and lost before reaching the presidency
  • Lincoln suffered from depression for much of his life
  • His legacy has been a strong one: he is labeled as the one who ended slavery in the US and united a divided nation

#17 – Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)

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  • Johnson never attended school and taught himself how to read and write
  • The same people who killed Lincoln had originally planned on killing Johnson, too. The shooter backed out at the last minute
  • Andrew Johnson was drunk during his own inauguration, to the horror of Mrs. Lincoln
  • He was the first president to be impeached, although he was not forcibly removed from office

#18 – Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)


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  • His real first name was Hiram
  • At age 46, President Grant was the youngest person elected president at the time
  • The ‘S’ in his name didn’t stand for anything
  • He was supposed to be sitting next to Lincoln on the day he was assassinated
  • He had never served public office before he was elected president.

#19 – Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)

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  • President Hayes banned alcohol in the White House in an attempt to appeal to Prohibitionists and maintain a dignity in the office
  • He was the first president to visit the West Coast, and he started the Easter Egg tradition which still survives today

#20 – James A. Garfield (1881)

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  • James Garfield served in Congress for 17 years before running for president
  • He was assassinated after only six months in office by someone who had been denied a position as the ambassador to France
  • 1881 is only one of two years in American history where there were three presidents (the other being 1841)
  • Garfield campaigned in German to German-American audiences

#21 – Chester Arthur (1881-1885)


  • Named ‘an accidental president’, Arthur was a New York real estate mogul who surprised critics by becoming a Republican President after Garfield’s death
  • He’s the first president to be a victim of a ‘Birther’ conspiracy even though he was born in Vermont
  • Since Garfield’s killer shouted ‘Arthur is president now!’, it fuelled months of speculation that President Arthur planned the killing to be promoted to the high office.
  • He never went to bed before 2am.

#22 and 24 – Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897)


  • President Cleveland is the only person to serve two, non-consecutive terms as president, giving him the title of the 22nd and 24th president of the US.
  • His first election was won by 1,200 votes in New York.
  • He was the first president to marry in the White House
  • It’s possible that he fathered an illegitimate child, something he admitted publicly.

#23 – Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)


  • Harrison was the first president to use electricity in the White House
  • As a Republican, he was a big supporter of civil rights and prosecuted those who prevented black people from voting.
  • He was the first president to have his voice recorded, and the last one to have a full beard.
  • He was known as the Human Iceberg since he was often cold and stiff to people

#25 – William McKinley (1897-1901)


  • McKinley was the fifth president from Ohio in 28 years
  • He was assassinated only a few months into his second term
  • He was a strong supporter of tariffs

#26 – Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)

  • His mother and first wife died on the same day: February 14, 1884.
  • He was the first sitting president to travel overseas – he visited the Panama Canal, a project he had worked on
  • President Roosevelt was the first president to win a Nobel Peace Prize
  • He is the inspiration for the Teddy Bear

#27 – William Howard Taft (1909-1913)

  • President Taft is the only president to end his career as a Supreme Court justice – a lifelong career goal
  • He was the last president to have any facial hair in office
  • As Chief Justice, he swore in two other conservative presidents: Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge

#28 – Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)


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  • He was president during WW1
  • He invented the graduated tax system – meaning people who earned less would pay a smaller percentage. This is still used today
  • He was the first president to visit Europe while still in office.
  • His face is on the $100,000 dollar bill

#29 – Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)


  • As a Republican, he fought for desegregation of African Americans
  • Highly criticized for appointing friends and family to powerful government positions
  • He won the election on his 55th birthday
  • He was the first president to talk on the radio.
  • President Harding was the first president to win an election after women earned the right to vote

#30 – Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)

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  • His inauguration was the first to be broadcast on the radio
  • Many of his policies were pro-business and anti-immigration – he reduced income and corporate taxes four consecutive times leading to the ‘Coolidge Prosperity’
  • He issues 1,545 pardons and cast 50 vetos

#31 – Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)

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  • President Hoover was an orphan by the age of 9
  • He was a self-made millionaire by working in the mining industry
  • Hoover was named as The Great Humanitarian after saving millions of lives in WW1
  • He and his wife, Lou, spoke fluent Chinese and often spoke it to each other in the White House when they wanted private conversations

#32 – Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)


  • At 12 years, he is America’s longest-serving president
  • He held a lifelong passion for stamp collecting and used it to relieve the stress of the presidency
  • He was a distant cousin to his wife and 11(!) other presidents, including Teddy Roosevelt
  • His 1921 polio diagnosis was largely hidden from the public, and later died while in office

#33 – Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)

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  • Weirdly, like President Grant, the ‘S’ in his name doesn’t stand for anything
  • He was only vice president for three months before becoming president
  • He survived an assassination attempt in 1950
  • President Truman learned of the atomic bomb just minutes after being sworn in, using it in Hiroshima a few months later

#34 – Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)


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  • During his eight years in office, he put five justices on the Supreme Court
  • Camp David was named after his grandson
  • President Eisenhower created NASA, paving the way for America to land on the moon in 1969
  • He was the first president to be restricted by the two-term presidential limit, but the first to benefit from the Former President Act – which offered him a pension, security, and staff for life

#35 – John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)

  • With an estimated fortune of $1 billion (in today’s money), he was the richest president to enter office at the time
  • He donated his entire salary to charity
  • A day before placing an embargo on Cuba, he made sure to buy plenty of cigars
  • There were four attempted assassination attempts before he was killed in 1963

#36 – Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)

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  • President Johnson is one of four people in the world to be a president, vice president, United States representative, and the Senate Majority Leader
  • He is largely responsible for enacting the Civil Rights Bill of 1964
  • In the 1964 election, he won 61% if the popular vote – the biggest share ever by a president
  • He decided not to run a second term, despite his popularity

#37 – Richard Nixon (1969-1974)

  • After facing impeachment from the Watergate Scandal, President Nixon is the only person to resign from the office of the President of the United States
  • During his time in office, he was responsible for growing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), expanded Voting Rights, and fully ended segregation of black people in the southern states
  • President Nixon hosted the largest ever dinner at the White House for veterans and POWs

#38 – Gerald Ford (1974-1977)

  • President Ford is the only president whose name didn’t appear on the ballot box as either a president or a running mate, making him the only unelected person to hold the position
  • One of his first acts was pardoning Nixon, something he never recovered from
  • The media often belittled and criticized him, something he ultimately embraced
  • He survived two assassination attempts in the same month, both by women
  • His wife, Betty Ford, became one of the most popular First Ladies in history

#39 – Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)

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  • After the controversial terms of Nixon and Ford, President Carter was often seen as the ‘Nice Guy’
  • He has enjoyed the longest post-presidency life – 37 years!
  • Carter is the first president to be born in a hospital
  • He claims to have spotted a UFO in 1969

#40 – Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)


  • President Reagan always made sure Jelly Beans were nearby in the Oval Office
  • Reagan didn’t win the presidency until his third attempt
  • At 69, Reagan was the oldest president to be inaugurated
  • Reagan was a Democrat until 1962 when he switched parties

#41 – George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)

  • President Bush was the first sitting vice president to win an election since Martin Van Buren in 1836
  • On his 90th birthday, he went skydiving (for a fourth time!)
  • He banned broccoli on Air Force One, claiming: ‘I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!’

#42 – Bill Clinton (1993-2001)


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  • Clinton is one of only two presidents who has been impeached – the other being Andrew Jackson – for lying under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinsky
  • Clinton won the presidency with only 43% of the popular vote, partly due to third-party candidate Ross Perot
  • He has won two Grammys
  • He was the first two-term Democrat president since FDR

#43 – George W. Bush (2001-2009)



  • After John Quincy Adams, George W. Bush is the second president to also be the son of a president
  • His 2000 election was widely contested after he lost the popular vote by 500,000 votes
  • Bush is an avid painter and took up the artistic hobby after leaving office

#44 – Barack Obama (2009-2017)


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  • President Obama is a Grammy winner for the reading of his autobiography, Dreams from my Father
  • Obama won the 2008 Democratic primaries despite receiving fewer votes than his opponent, Hillary Clinton
  • In 2011, Obama was the first president to address the UK Parliament
  • In 2012, Obama was the first sitting president to endorse same-same marriage, a position he had previously opposed.

#45 – Donald Trump (2017- )


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  • At 70, Donald Trump is the oldest person to be elected President
  • President Trump has never touched alcohol or smoked a cigarette
  • Like Bush, he didn’t win the popular vote
  • Like Reagan, he used to be a Democrat and a TV star
  • Like Ford, the media often criticize him
  • Like JFK, he was a billionaire before entering office and donates his entire salary
  • Like Coolidge, he is pro-business and anti-immigration
  • Like Arthur, he was a New York real estate mogul
  • Like Grant, he never served public office before being elected president

#46 – who knows?


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Tune in in 2020 to find out if this list is updated!

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