Odd, Strange and Trivial Facts About U.S. Presidents
Even though they are the epitome of public service as well as the subject of countless biographies, much remains unknown about the 43 men who have led the United States. (There are 43 because Cleveland didn’t serve his terms consecutively, therefore counting as two separate presidents).
- Oldest and Youngest – The 40th president and former actor Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) has the distinction of being the oldest man to take the oath of office. He was 69 at his inauguration. Contrary to popular belief, John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) was not the youngest man to hold the office of the presidency. At 42 years of age, Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) was the youngest man to ever become president (he assumed the presidency following William McKinley’s assassination).
- Tallest and Shortest – It should come as no surprise that Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) stands as the tallest president measuring in at 6’4”. What is surprising is that he barely edged out the 6’3-1/2” tall Texan Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969). Nineteen presidents have measure at least 6’ making the average presidential height roughly 5’11”. The honor of being the shortest president goes to the 4th commander-in-chief James Madison (1809-1817) who was 5’4” tall.
- George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and Grover Cleveland never attended college.
- Of the 43 Presidents, 14 served as vice presidents. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush.
- Four presidents were assassinated while in office – Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy.
- Three presidents died on the 4th of July – John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Signers of the Declaration of Independence Adams and Jefferson – who died within hours of each other – passed away on the nation’s 50th birthday in 1826.
Fun Facts About Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe
- George Washington (1789-1797) was the only president elected unanimously – both times.
- Washington was a step dad – Martha was a widowed mother of two when they married.
- John Adams (1797-1801) spoke with a lisp.
- Known as “The Father of the Navy”, Adams is one of four presidents to live past the age of 90 (Hoover, Regan and Ford are the others)
- Self-trained architect Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) was a red-head.
- Jefferson gave only two speeches during his tenure as president: both came during his inaugurations.
- “Father of the Constitution” James Madison (1809-1817) was the first member of congress to serve as president of the U.S.
- Madison, who was the first president to wear long pants, was an avid student of the Bible and enjoyed reading it in both Greek and Latin
- James Monroe (1817-1825) wanted to return slaves to Africa. This is why the capital of Liberia was named Monrovia.
- If not for the desire of the New Hampshire delegate to have Washington be the only unanimously elected president, Monroe would have been the second.
John Q. Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, W.H. Harrison and Tyler Trivia
- John Q. Adams (1825-1829) swam nude in the Potomac whenever possible.
- The published poet and wine lover Adams was actually the author of the Monroe Doctrine.
- Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) was the only president to govern a debt-free United States – however momentary.
- Though Jackson fathered no children, he raised 11 adoptive kids.
- Martin Van Buren (1837-1841) was the first president born in the United States of America.
- He was one of the most unpopular presidents in history.
- William Henry Harrison (1841) served the shortest time as president, 31 days, but gave the longest inauguration speech; one hour 45 minutes.
- Harrison was trained as a physician.
- John Tyler (1841-1845) was the first president to be a widower then to marry while in office.
- Tyler was the grand-uncle of the 33rd U.S. President Harry S. Truman.
Facts Regarding Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan
- James K. Polk (1845-1849) bought the land that is now Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming from Mexico.
- Polk had no children.
- Army general Zachary Taylor (1849-1850) never voted.
- Taylor was the father-in-law of Jefferson Davis, who would go on to become President of the Confederacy
- Millard Fillmore (1850-1853) was the last president born in the 18th century.
- Fillmore did not make an inaugural address.
- Franklin Pierce (1853-1857) first president born in the 19th century.
- Democrats refused to nominate Pierce for a second term in office employing the slogan “Anybody but Pierce”.
- James Buchanan (1857-1861) was the first and only bachelor president.
- Buchanan was near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other.
The men who led the United States of America have been unique in many ways. Some have been wealthy, others poor; some formally educated, others self-taught. Whether or not they’ve been smart, privileged or charismatic, it’s always nice to know that the men that ascended to the highest office in the land put their pants on like everybody else: one leg at a time.