If you're as big a history nerd as I, then you probably love learning new things about historical figures. Today, I'm going to be revealing one eccentricity about every U.S. President that you may or may not know. This will be the first of a three part series, so if you folks like it, I will continue it. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed learning it and writing about it.
1. George Washington (1789-1797):
As president, Washington's annual salary was equivalent to almost a million dollars today. Seven percent of which was spent on alcohol.
2. John Adams (1797-1801):
Adams scoffed at the notion that the leader of the United States should bear such a mundane title as, "President". He himself believed that the man in charge should be acknowledged as "His Highness, The President of the United States, and defender of our liberties". Unfortunately for him, neither the senate nor the people would budge.
3. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809):
Jefferson loathed the fact that the south relied so heavily on cotton, and yearned for a crop to replace it. While visiting France in 1787, he discovered that Italian rice was preferred in comparison to the American import. This caused Jefferson to visit Italy himself, where he discovered a superior strain of crop growing in a region called Lombardy. Jefferson then began stashing the seeds into his pockets, knowing full well that to grow this crop outside of Italy was punishable by death, and returned to the U.S. with them.
4. James Madison (1809-1817):
From his youth onward, Madison suffered from a substantial amount of illnesses, including influenza, dysentery, and hemorrhoids. But since 18th century medicine was putrid, the doctors that examined him attributed his illnesses to his affinity for reading, and advised him to stop studying as oft as he was. Fortunately for the American Republic, he didn't heed their advice.
5. James Monroe (1817-1825):
Monroe and his Secretary of the Treasury William Crawford once had a hysterical squabble. Crawford was enraged that Monroe rejected every patronage recommendation that he made, and raised his cane, attempting to strike the president. In retaliation, Monroe grabbed a pair of fire tongs and chased Crawford out of the White House.
6. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829):
JQA loved swimming... nude. Once while on a rowboat with a servant, with the intent on swimming from the far shore back, a storm brewed. They attempted to row back, but the boat sank, therefore they were forced to swim, barely escaping with their lives. The servant was sent back in search of clothes, as Adams sat by the Potomac River in the nude, drenched and probably shriveled.
7. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837):
A renowned military hero, most notably for his dominant victory at the Battle of New Orleans in 1814 (even though the War of 1812 had already officially ended, it still helped propel him to the presidency), Jackson narrowly escaped death during the Creek War of 1813. He suffered, and nearly died from starvation, but wound up surviving by eating acorns.
8. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841):
Although he was of a middle class family, Van Buren would become infamous for his lavish parties, and, of all things, his silverware. Guests would regularly see Van Buren eating soup with a golden spoon while donning white gloves.
9. William Henry Harrison (1841):
The first president to die while in office. There's not much to speak of about Harrison. He was president for a mere thirty-one days before dying after succumbing to pneumonia due to his... lengthy... inauguration speech. He spoke amid freezing cold temperatures, without a coat or gloves, for just shy of two hours.
10. John Tyler (1841-1845):
The first of four presidents in American history never to be elected for the position, Tyler seemed more occupied with getting busy in the bedroom than occupying his onus as president. Tyler had a whopping fifteen children in total, and still has two grandchildren alive to this day.
11. James K. Polk (1845-1849):
Polk was the definition of a workaholic. He simply refused to take a vacation, and thus was absent from the White House for only six weeks or his four years in office. Polk never sought a second term, and I believe the happiest person was his wife Sarah.
12. Zachary Taylor (1849-1850):
Ah, the days where snail mail was the only way to message others. Taylor was nominated by the Whig party in the Election of 1848, but the letter they wrote to him nearly never reached him, as it wasn't prepaid. Taylor, who apparently was a real life Mr. Krabs, told his post office not to send him mail that hadn't already been prepaid. By the time he realized that he had been nominated, the offer had nearly expired.
13. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853):
Fillmore assumed the presidency after Zachary Taylor's sudden death. The two couldn't be anymore different from one another. Taylor had been perceived as a lazy dresser, lanky, and hideous; while Fillmore was recognized by many as having a spiffy fashion sense, robust, and good-looking. Queen Victoria herself even claimed that Fillmore was the handsomest man she had ever met.
14. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857):
Pierce's legacy, as well as most of his life, is pretty damn grim. I'll spare you of the depressing details, and instead speak of one of the more embarrassing blunders by an active president. One night while returning from a friend's house, Pierce struck an old woman with his carriage on the streets of Washington. Police came and arrested him, only to release him sometime later upon realizing who he was.
15. James Buchanan (1857-1861):
Buchanan is the only president ever to have never married. However, there are questions as to why. He was betrothed to a woman named Anne Caroline Coleman in 1819, but the engagement was ended only a few months later for undisclosed reasons. Some believe that Buchanan was preparing to marry her solely for financial purposes. He lived with a man named William Rufus King in a Washington boardinghouse for ten years, and they would regularly attend social functions together. Some politicians even referred to King as Buchanan's better half. Although many historians believe that Buchanan was indeed homosexual, others claim that he was merely asexual. His sexuality and relationship with William Rufus King remains evermore a mystery.
16. Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865):
Honest Abe didn't get that nickname per chance, but it also wasn't all stern and serious with him. Some of the witticisms Lincoln dealt were legendary. While practicing law in Illinois, Lincoln rented a horse to take a case out of town. When he returned several days later, he asked the owner if he used this particular horse for funerals, to which the owner replied no.
"That's good," Lincoln said, "because the corpse wouldn't get there in time for the resurrection."