17 Facts About American Presidents Few People Actually Know

Throughout history, American presidents have captivated the public’s interest and have been subjects of study. However, beyond their accomplishments and historical significance lie fascinating and often overlooked facts about these leaders. This article aims to shed light on 20 details about U.S. presidents that may surprise you.

George Washington’s dental dilemma

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Contrary to the held belief that George Washington wore dentures made of wood, the dentures he actually used, as depicted in this image, were crafted from a combination of animal and human teeth (which he obtained from his slaves), along with ivory sourced from elephants and walruses. These false teeth were then set into a base. Made pliable through the use of steel springs.

The unexpected death of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

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The passing of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, U.S. Presidents, on July 4, 1826, which coincided with the Jubilee marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence adoption, was both extraordinary and eerie. According to the Library of Congress blogs, Jefferson passed away in Monticello, Virginia, at the age of 83. A few hours later, Adams died in Quincy, Massachusetts, at the age of 90. Although they had been friends during their lifetime, they had been politically distant for eleven years following the election in 1800.

James K. Polk’s academic achievement

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James K. Polk was the final representative of the Jacksonian era to occupy the White House and the last influential President before the onset of the Civil War. Born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in 1795, Polk displayed a diligent nature. He successfully graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina in 1818. Beginning his career as a lawyer, he ventured into politics and served in the Tennessee legislature while forging a friendship with Andrew Jackson.

Zachary Taylor’s temperate lifestyle

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Zachary Taylor, a revered leader and beloved national figure, served in the United States Army during both the Mexican-American War and the War of 1812. He held this position from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. Despite earning fame as a figure in war and being dubbed ‘Old Rough and Ready’, Zachary Taylor abstained from consuming beverages throughout his life. 

Franklin Pierce’s departure from the military

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Franklin Pierce, the son of Benjamin Pierce, who served as the governor of New Hampshire, was born in New Hampshire. He had a career in politics, starting with his time in the House of Representatives from 1833 until he was elected to the Senate. He served as a senator from 1837 until his resignation in 1842. Additionally, he had a law practice and later became New Hampshire’s U.S. Attorney in 1845.

James Buchanan, An unpopular figure

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Many historical texts have noted how James Buchanan was widely regarded as one of the American presidents who, primarily due to his lack of action during his reign, led to a deep divide in the country.

Abraham Lincoln was honest and sincere

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Abraham Lincoln earned the nickname ‘Honest Abe’ during a debate where he was praised for his sincerity and unwavering honesty. He never boasted about his beginnings or the limitations of his education to gain popularity. He did not use these aspects as a backdrop to showcase his talent or the achievements he had earned. While he always remembered where he came from and stayed connected to the people, he also understood the importance of having a manner and cultivating genuine emotions. He valued both his roots and the refinement that comes with experience.

Andrew Johnson’s journey of self-education

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Andrew Johnson stands out for being entirely self-taught until he reaches 17 years old. He didn’t learn how to read until he turned 21. It is said that he did not master the basics of reading, grammar, or math until he met his wife at the age of seventeen.

Ulysses S. Grant challenges in family life

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Grant’s struggles with alcoholism led to periods where his wife, Julia, had to raise their children on her own. This thesis published on the Rutherford & Hayes website mentions how Ulysses S. Grant had a problem with alcohol and that it greatly impacted his abilities as a leader. Back in his time, being labeled as an alcoholic was seen as an insult. In Grants America, someone who drank excessively was seen as inferior and those who indulged in alcohol were considered lacking character.

Rutherford B. Hayes and his feline companion

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Hayes became known as the owner of a Siamese cat, which was gifted to him by the American consul in Bangkok. In 1878, David Sickels, the consul in Bangkok, gave a Siamese cat as a gift to Mr. and Mrs. Hayes. Sickels had heard that Mrs. Hayes was fond of cats and Siam was taken to the United States in 1879. He became the beloved pet of their daughter, Fanny Hays. After nine months of being in the White House, Siam fell ill and passed away. The White House had a taxidermist preserve Siam’s remains, however, there is no record of where the kitty ended up.

James A. Garfield’s childhood dreams at sea

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James Abram Garfield, the youngest of three siblings, was born on November 19, 1831, on a farm in the frontier region of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. During his childhood, he assisted his mother, Eliza, in managing their farm near Cleveland, Ohio. Unfortunately, James never had the opportunity to know his father, Abram Garfield, who was renowned for his wrestling skills and passed away when James was a baby. Similar to his father, James possessed boxing abilities and had a love for nature; however, he never found farming appealing. Instead, he nurtured dreams of becoming a sailor.

Chester A. Arthur revamps the white house

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Chester A. Arthur oversaw a renovation project at the White House, enlisting Louis C. Tiffany to lead a redesign effort. Did you know that Grover Cleveland’s real name was Stephen Grover Cleveland? He dropped the ‘Stephen’ when he entered politics.

William McKinley had a singing parrot

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President William McKinley was known for owning a parrot named ‘Washington Post.’ However, he didn’t stop at one bird; he also had roosters in his possession. While it is mentioned in sources that these roosters existed, the exact number of roosters and their duration of stay at the White House remain unknown. It’s interesting to note that William McKinley had a parrot named Washington Post which could actually sing ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy.’

Theodore Roosevelt burnt his portrait

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In the ‘Tale of Two Painters’ published on the Boundary Stones website, Roosevelt chose the famous French artist Théobald Chartran to create a portrait of Mrs. Roosevelt in 1902, which received recognition and admiration in both France and the United States. The painting captured the strength and thoughtfulness of Edith Roosevelt with a touch of kindness in her eyes that reflected her dedication as a mother. It’s no surprise that President Theodore Roosevelt desired a portrait of himself. However, it is worth noting that he was not the subject of the painting, as confirmed by two portraitists. Six years later Roosevelt decided to have the painting removed from the building and destroyed.

William Howard Taft and baseball

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President William Howard Taft became the first president to toss the opening ball of the baseball season on April 14, 1910. He delivered a pitch to Walter Johnson, the Opening Day pitcher, for the Washington Senators.

Woodrow Wilson’s passion for golf

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This post on the CNN website mentions how Wilson had a passion for golf. He was known to go to extreme lengths to indulge in his love for the game. It is said that he even instructed his service guards to paint his golf balls so that he could practice driving in these conditions. Throughout his presidency, which lasted for eight years until 1921, Wilson managed to play more than 1,000 rounds of golf while engaging in discussions about policies. It was during a game that he met Edith, who later became his second wife. Interestingly, Edith also developed an interest in the game.

Winning Grammy Awards

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It’s worth mentioning that Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Jimmy Carter all won Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album for their biographies.

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