Friday, January 23, 2009

On Presidential Trivia

All right, by now we know that Obama was born in Hawaii and Michele's one-shouldered white number was by an upcoming designer named Jason Wu..but did you know...

EIGHT PRESIDENTS were born British subjects: Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J. Q. Adams, Jackson, and W. Harrison.

NINE PRESIDENTS never attended college: Washington, Jackson, Van Buren, Taylor, Fillmore, Lincoln, A. Johnson, Cleveland, and Truman. The college that has the most presidents as alumni (six in total) is Harvard: J. Adams, J. Q. Adams, T. Roosevelt, F. Roosevelt, Kennedy, G. W. Bush (business school), and Barack Obama (law school). Yale is a close second, with five presidents as alumni: Taft, Ford (law school), G.H.W. Bush, Clinton (law school), and G. W. Bush.

THE MOST COMMON religious affiliation among presidents has been Episcopalian, followed by Presbyterian.

THE ANCESTRY of 43 presidents is limited to the following seven heritages, or some combination thereof: Dutch, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Swiss, or German.

THE OLDEST elected president was Reagan (age 69); the youngest was Kennedy (age 43). Theodore Roosevelt, however, was the youngest man to become president—he was 42 when he succeeded McKinley, who had been assassinated. THE OLDEST LIVING former president was Gerald Ford, who was born on July 14, 1913, and died on Dec.27, 2006, at age 93. The second oldest was Ronald Reagan, who also lived to be 93 years.

THE TALLEST president was Lincoln at 6'4"; at 5'4", Madison was the shortest.There have been seven left-handed presidents: James A. Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Barack Obama is also a southpaw.

FOURTEEN PRESIDENTS served as vice presidents: J. Adams, Jefferson, Van Buren, Tyler, Fillmore, A. Johnson, Arthur, T. Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, Nixon, L. Johnson, Ford, and George H.W. Bush.

FOR TWO YEARS the nation was run by a president and a vice president who were not elected by the people. After Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned in 1973, President Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as vice president. Nixon resigned the following year, which left Ford as president, and Ford's appointed vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, as second in line.

FOUR PRESIDENTS won the popular vote but lost the presidency: Andrew Jackson won the popular vote but lost the election to John Quincy Adams (1824); Samuel J. Tilden won the popular vote but lost the election to Rutherford B. Hayes (1876); Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but lost the election to Benjamin Harrison (1888); Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election to George W. Bush (2000).

JAMES BUCHANAN was the only president never to marry. Five presidents remarried after the death of their first wives—two of whom, Tyler and Wilson, remarried while in the White House. Reagan was the only divorced president. Six presidents had no children. Tyler—father of fifteen—had the most.

PRESIDENTS LINCOLN, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy were assassinated in office.

ASSASSINATION ATTEMPTS were made on the lives of Jackson, T. Roosevelt, F. Roosevelt, Truman, Ford, and Reagan.

EIGHT PRESIDENTS died in office: W. Harrison (after having served only one month. His inauguration speech was so long, he caught pneumonia standing on those steps for so long. ), Taylor, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, F. Roosevelt, and Kennedy.PRESIDENTS ADAMS, Jefferson, and Monroe all died on the 4th of July; Coolidge was born on that day.

KENNEDY AND TAFT are the only presidents buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

You guys are so smart, you probably did know...

HANK: I love this. Love. But can you name the presdents in order? My husband and I got on a big kick to learn this a few months ago, after we realized one night at dinner that we couldn't do it, and we were embarrassed. Try it. Can you do it?

RO: In order, are you kidding? I did memorize the Gettysburg Address a couple of years ago...I was obsessed with it...and I used to have a boyfriend that knew all of the kings and queens of England in order...

HANK: 1 through 5 is easy. 16 no problem of course. Which makes 15 and 17 easy. But there are places it gets a bit complicated. Can you picture it? We're sitting in a restaurant. I say: 19! Jonathan says: Well?


  1. Interesting Lincoln true crime and crime fiction tidbits:

    Stealing Lincoln’s Body (Harvard University Press, 2007) by Thomas J. Craughwell is about an incident in 1876 involving several Chicago counterfeiters who attempted to steal Lincoln’s remains from his Springfield tomb. As a result, our 16th president now rests below several feet of cement.

    Lincoln himself actually wrote a mystery story entitled “The Trailor [sic] Murder Mystery” which was based on a case he was involved in as a young lawyer.

    It turns out that Lincoln was an avid admirer of Edgar Allan Poe!

    You can find this story in The Black Cabinet, a collection of mystery short stories based on true crimes edited by Peter Lovesey (Carroll & Graf, 1989). Out of print for sure, but check with your library for availability or interlibrary loan.

    So, when is someone going to write a Lincoln as detective historical mystery?

  2. Oh--what a great idea, Jane!

    And coincidentally, exactly what Jungle Red will be talking about on Monday!

    Come back Monday and check it out...

  3. If I ever make it to Jeopardy, I'm going to have to sit down and memorize the presidents. And the vice presidents. And the wives.

    What are the statistical odds of three sequential left-handed presidents? And what does that say about their minds?

  4. I know this is just me, and not remotely supported by any research study anywhere, but I always think that left-handed people are more organized and methodical than right-handed people. (I'm a righty, of course) So I'm going to say that was an era when the country really needed order!!

  5. Samuel J. Tilden won the popular vote but lost the election to Rutherford B. Hayes (1876).

    Tilden is my great-great-great(?) uncle--and the name my maiden name. The family resemblance is so strong that my parents were grateful I escaped the 'Tilden nose', which may have looked good on a governor and a presidential candidate in the 1800s, but not so good on a teenage girl in the 1970s.

  6. That's wild about Lincoln's body. I'd never heard that. I knew about Tilden because there's a high school in Brooklyn named for him...but didn't know much of the other stuff.

    MY bit of presidential trivia...I went jogging with Bill Clinton and once sat next to Rosalynn Carter at lunch.

    Now I'm wondering what you've got up your sleeve for Monday, Hank!

  7. All ---> Homework
    Memorize this list for class Monday!

    Had to take on Hank's challenge! First I needed a list!

    Notice the recurrence of Grover Cleveland in non-consecutive terms!
    President 22 in 1884, and 24 in 1892.

    1. George Washington
    2. John Adams
    3. Thomas Jefferson
    4. James Madison
    5. James Monroe
    6. John Quincy Adams
    7. Andrew Jackson
    8. Martin Van Buren
    9. William Henry Harrison
    10. John Tyler
    11. James K. Polk
    12. Zachary Taylor
    13. Millard Fillmore
    14. Franklin Pierce
    15. James Buchanan
    16. Abraham Lincoln
    17. Andrew Johnson
    18. Ulysses S. Grant
    19. Rutherford B. Hayes
    20. James Garfield
    21. Chester A. Arthur
    22. Grover Cleveland
    23. Benjamin Harrison
    24. Grover Cleveland
    25. William McKinley
    26. Theodore Roosevelt
    27. William Howard Taft
    28. Woodrow Wilson
    29. Warren G. Harding
    30. Calvin Coolidge
    31. Herbert Hoover
    32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
    33. Harry S. Truman
    34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
    35. John F. Kennedy
    36. Lyndon B. Johnson
    37. Richard M. Nixon
    38. Gerald R. Ford
    39. James Carter
    40. Ronald Reagan
    41. George H. W. Bush
    42. William J. Clinton
    43. George W. Bush
    44. Barack Obama