Tuesday, December 15, 2009
2. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day – July 4, 1826, which just so happened to be the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
3. Thomas Jefferson attributed his long life (he lived to the age of 83, which was pretty long in the tooth for the early 1800s) to his daily habit of cold foot baths.
9. William Henry Harrison. His death is the reason we have firm plans in place for the presidential succession. Harrison served just 31 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes of his presidency; he died of pneumonia and septicemia and was the first American President to die in office. At the time, no one was sure if the Vice President should become President or would merely be Acting President. It was decided that since Harrison’s VP John Tyler took the Oath of Office, he would retain the title for the duration of Harrison’s original term.
13. Millard Fillmore met Queen Victoria in 1855. She promptly declared that Fillmore was the handsomest man she had ever laid eyes upon. He was also the last member of the Whig Party to be President.
22. Grover Cleveland had a secret operation to remove a tumor in his mouth while he was president. He boarded a yacht headed upstate as if it were a fun diversion, but while he was tucked away from the public eye, doctors removed the tumor from his upper palette. No one knew about the incident until 24 years later, when one of the doctors who performed the surgery finally spilled the beans. You can now visit the tumor at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, which has an exhibit dedicated to the event. Grover Cleveland was President for non-consecutive terms (the only President to ever do so, actually), so he technically counts as Presidents #22 and #24.
23. Benjamin Harrison was the last president to wear a beard.
26. William Howard Taft is the only man, thus far, to have been the leader of both the Executive and Judicial branches of government. He became Chief Justice eight years after his term as President ended and considered this the highlight of his career – “I do not remember that I was ever President,” he once said.
28. Warren G. Harding loved gambling and once lost an entire box of White House china in a game.
32. Harry S Truman. The “S” in Harry S Truman doesn’t stand for anything. His parents argued over whether it should stand for “Shippe” or “Solomon,” his paternal and maternal grandparents respectively, and so it was just left as “S.”
37. Gerald Ford is the only President who also had a modeling career. He was in Look magazine in 1939 and was on the cover of Cosmopolitan in 1942. He’s also the only President to ever tackle a future Heisman winner – when he played football for the University of Michigan Wolverines, he tackled University of Chicago running back Jay Berwanger, who won the first-ever Heisman Trophy the following year.