On Presidents Day we celebrate the 45 men who have served in the nation’s highest office. Many performed spectacular deeds before taking office and many helped make the United States the great nation it is today. But there are sometimes interesting facts about the Presidents that are not widely known. Here are a few:
All in the Family. Two father-son combinations have served as President: John Adams (the 2nd President) and John Quincy Adams (6), and George H.W. Bush (41) and George W. Bush (43). Benjamin Harrison (23) was the grandson of William Henry Harrison (9).
Independence Day. The Fourth of July is prominent in Presidential history. Calvin Coolidge (30) was born on the Independence Day. John Adams (2) and Thomas Jefferson (3) both died on July 4, 1826, and James Monroe (5) died on July 4, 1831. Zachary Taylor (12) died on July 9, 1850 after possibly contracting food poisoning at a July 4 picnic.
Big and Small. James Madison (4) was the smallest president at 5’4” and barely making 100 pounds. Abraham Lincoln (16) was the tallest at 6’4” and William Howard Taft (27) the heaviest at 330 pounds.
Young and Old. A person needs to be at least 35 years old to serve as President. The youngest President was Theodore Roosevelt (26), who was 42 when he took office following the assassination of William McKinley. John F. Kennedy (35) was the youngest man to be elected President, at age 43. Ronald Reagan (40) was the oldest to serve, age 77 when his second term ended. Donald Trump (45) is the oldest to be elected, at age 70.
Extended Family. John Tyler (10) was born in 1790 and served as President from 1841-45. But oddly, he still has two living grandchildren. He fathered Lyon Tyler in 1853, when he was 63 years old. Lyon Taylor fathered Lyon Jr. in 1924 when he was 71 and Harrison Tyler in 1928 when he was 75. As of September 2016 both Lyon and Harrison Tyler were still alive.
The Bachelor. Two men were bachelors when they were elected. James Buchanan (15) never married and his niece served as First Lady. Grover Cleveland was the legal guardian of his law partner’s daughter. When she turned 21 he married her in a ceremony at the White House. She is the youngest to ever serve as First Lady.
No Experience Required. Three Presidents have been elected without having prior political experience – Ulysses S. Grant (18), Dwight D. Eisenhower (34) and Donald Trump (45). Grant and Eisenhower were both Army Generals.
What’s in a Name? Six Presidents have been named James. John and William are the second most common names, with four each. Three have been named George, two were named Andrew and two named Franklin.
Wash Your Hands. In his early life, James Garfield (20) was a circuit-riding preacher. He also taught penmanship at a school and was able to write simultaneously with both hands, in different languages. He was shot in the back just a few months after becoming President. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, created a metal detector to try to find the bullet lodged in Garfield’s abdomen. He died nearly three months after being shot, probably from an infection developed by the unsterile methods doctors used in surgery.
Hold the Phone. The first President to have a telephone in the White House was Rutherford B. Hayes (19). His phone number was 1. William McKinley (25) was the first to use a phone for campaigning.
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