WHEN THE END HAS COME (Presidential Series) by L. Milton Hankins

WHEN THE END HAS COME (Presidential Series) by L. Milton Hankins

[Following is the last in a twelve-part series. The sketches are taken from the editor’s book manuscript Our Curious Presidents and Their Families. Many books of presidential trivia are available, however, the pieces I have selected from my own research are somewhat obscure. Most of them come from presidential autobiographies or approved biographies.]

Five presidents lived less than five years after leaving the White House–Washington, Polk, Arthur, Wilson and Lyndon B. Johnson. James Knox Polk survived a mere three months after returning home to Tennessee.

A tomb was constructed in the United States Capitol building for President George Washington.  It has remained unused until today since his family would not allow his body to be moved from Mount Vernon to Washington, D.C.

U. S. Capitol Dome

U. S. Capitol Dome

Until Ronald Reagan, who was elected in 1980, broke the so-called “curse,” every president since 1840 elected in a year ending in zero died in office. Those presidents were William Henry Harrison (1840), Abraham Lincoln (1860), Warren G. Harding (1920), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1940) and John F. Kennedy (1960). We note, however, that Reagan came very close to losing his life in an assassination attempt outside a Washington, D.C. hotel.

Benjamin Harrison lived during the most terms of former and future presidents–nineteen in all, from Andrew Jackson to William McKinley. Closest to his record was Herbert Hoover, whose life spanned administrations from Ulysses S. Grant to Lyndon B. Johnson. Both Harrison and Hoover were one term Republican presidents from the midwest.

President John Adams’ last words were reputedly, “Thomas Jefferson survives.” He did not know that, ironically, Jefferson had died earlier the same day.  Adams’ will provided for the building of the church in which the remains of his wife Abigail and himself, his son President John Quincy and his wife Louisa, are interred. John Quincy joined his parent’s church after his father’s death to ensure that their bodies would be side by side in repose.

Learning that President Thomas Jefferson had died financially insolvent the same day as his father, President John Quincy Adams sent a $200.00 (a not insignificant sum back then) check to Jefferson’s daughter to help retire the former president’s indebtedness. Despite the fact that it was a thoughtful gift, it was a mere “drop in the bucket” since Jefferson was approximately $100,000 in debt when he died. Patsy Jefferson Randolph inherited her father’s debts. She sold Monticello, the family estate and its contents to pay off her father’s debts.

President James Monroe was so in debt in his later years that he was forced to move to New York to live with his daughter. He died in New York, and it was not until twenty-seven years later that his remains were moved back to Virginia (his home) where he lies beside his wife in Hollywood Cemetery–not far from the grave of President John Tyler…and Confederate President Jefferson Davis!

President Andrew Johnson is buried at the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Greeneville, Tennessee. At his request, his body is wrapped in the American flag and his head rests on a copy of the Constitution of the United States.

Presidents George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter have left instructions for a state funeral to be conducted upon their demise. Carter has said he wishes to be buried in the front yard of his home in Plains, Georgia.

George Washington Adams, the oldest son of John Quincy Adams, committed suicide by jumping overboard from a ship and drowning. It is widely believed that he did so because he could not bear to face his father’s disappointment and anger at his unacceptable behavior.

Kermit Roosevelt, the second son of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of fifty-three. Ellen Axson Wilson’s father committed suicide in 1884. Bess Truman’s father also committed suicide.

Three presidents died on the Fourth of July: Thomas Jefferson (1826), John Adams (1826) and James Monroe (1831).

Six presidents died with one or more bullets in their body: James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

The eulogy for James Madison was delivered by President John Quincy Adams. The eulogy for Warren G. Harding was delivered by President Calvin Coolidge. By the time of his death, James Madison was the last of the “Founding Fathers” that had been part of steering the nation to independence.

William Henry Harrison was the first sitting president to die in the White House. His successor’s wife, Letitia Tyler, was the first president’s wife to die in the White House.

When John Tyler died in Richmond, Virginia, his coffin was draped with a Confederate flag. Having been elected to the Confederate Congress, he was branded a traitor by the North. He is the only president who was ever branded with that offense. Congress refused to authorize a memorial stone for his grave until 1915.

Neither Mary Todd Lincoln nor Margaret Mackall Taylor attended their husband’s funerals in the East Room of the White House. They went into seclusion and grieved while they could hear the funeral dirges downstairs.

An autopsy was performed in the White House (Prince of Wales Room) on Abraham Lincoln. The autopsy was attended by two pathologists and seven doctors. William “Willie” Lincoln was the first child of a sitting president to die in the White House. The body of President Abraham Lincoln does not lie in the sarcophagus in the center of his tomb in Oakridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. To thwart the efforts of grave robbers, Lincoln’s remains are buried ten feet below his tomb.

The body of Ulysses S. Grant lies in the largest mausoleum in North America. One million people attended the opening of the tomb. A standard trivia giveaway is “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?”

President Woodrow Wilson is the only president buried in Washington, D.C. His body lies in a crypt in the National Cathedral.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt died in New York City on November 7, 1962 of bone marrow tuberculosis.

Only two presidents and their wives are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. They are William Howard and Helen Taft and John Fitzgerald and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Harry Truman

Harry Truman

President Harry S Truman left instructions for a state funeral; however, upon his death, Bess Truman countermanded his instructions. He did not have a state funeral, and he and Bess are buried at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.

John F. Kennedy was the first sitting president to die in a hospital. Incidentally, he is the only president whose parents survived him.

The Reverend Dr. Billy Graham officiated at the funeral for President Richard M. Nixon. Five presidents and first ladies attended Nixon’s funeral in 1994. They were Bill and Hillary Clinton, George and Barbara Bush, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter and Gerald and Betty Ford.

No American president has ever been cremated.

I’ll close with a tidbit of information that bet-makers can make a coin off of!  Harry S Truman was the only president whose first full day in office fell on Friday the 13th!

Oh, well, here’s another sure winner:  Ask “Who was the first president’s wife whose first name was “Eleanor?”  Almost 100% of the time, the response will be “Eleanor Roosevelt.”  Not so!  Mrs. Roosevelt’s name was Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.  The correct response is “Rosalynn Carter.”  Mrs. Carter’s name is Eleanor Rosalynn Carter.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this twelve-article Presidential Series as much as I have enjoyed compiling the trivia over a long, long period of time.
THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN YOU DIDN’T KNOW (Presidential Series) by L. Milton Hankins

THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN YOU DIDN’T KNOW (Presidential Series) by L. Milton Hankins

[Following is the eleventh of a twelve-part series in COLUMNIST WITH A VIEW. The sketches are taken from the editor’s book manuscript Our Curious Presidents and Their Families. Many books of presidential trivia are available, however, the pieces I have selected from my own research are somewhat obscure. Most of them come from presidential autobiographies or approved biographies.]

Abraham Lincoln was an accomplished wrestler. He was defeated only once in 300 matches. According to some sources, “He made it to the Wrestling Hall of Fame with the honor of “outstanding American.”

Young Lincoln applied for and received a saloon license in 1833.  Seven years later, Lincoln became engaged to Mary Todd in 1840, but the first time their marriage ceremony was arranged, he did not show up! Later, they reconciled and were married in 1841.

When Lincoln was a freshman congressman, he lived with his wife and two young sons in a Washington, D.C. boarding house. Among their small group of friends was a Georgia Congressman named Alexander H. Stephens. Stephens later became the vice president of the Confederate States of America during the War Between the States.

Lincoln delivered the eulogy at President Zachary Taylor’s funeral.

Rutherford B. Hayes actively campaigned for Lincoln. As a result, the new president invited Hayes to accompany him on part of his journey from Illinois to Washington to take office. Mr. and Mrs. Hayes rode with the Lincolns from Indianapolis to Cincinnati.

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln was probably the most extravagant spender while living in the White House. She far exceeded the amount the Congress allocated for redecorating of the president’s home. She dressed extravagantly, as well, and frequently misrepresented her expenditures to her husband.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln believed in dreams and had a documented premonition of his own death by assassination.  Actor Edwin Booth, the brother of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, once saved the life of Lincoln’s son Robert Todd.

Lincoln’s son Robert Todd was not present at Ford’s Theater when his father was assassinated, as is commonly believed, but he was in Washington, D.C. and rushed to the scene. However, it is true, that Robert Todd Lincoln witnessed the assassination of President James A. Garfield, and he was present at the Pan-American Exposition when William McKinley was assassinated.  When Lincoln was assassinated, he had only one piece of money in his pocket…a Confederate note!

While Lincoln was the Commander-in-Chief of the Union Army, First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s brother and three half-brothers fought for the confederacy!

Because Lincoln had experienced a three-hour handshaking event, he was suffering from a muscle spasm in his hand when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It bothered him because he did not want future historians to say that he was hesitant or nervous about signing the document. First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln was the first president’s wife to invite African-Americans to the White House as guests of her family. Some sources say that Lincoln finally signed the Emancipation Proclamation at his wife’s urging.

After eleven-year-old Willie Lincoln died in the White House, Mrs. Lincoln never again entered the room where he died or the East Room where his funeral was held. She forbade the use of flowers in the White House after Willie’s death because he loved flowers. Some historians report that President Lincoln often went to Willie’s tomb, removed the lid of his coffin and gazed at his beloved son’s face. Whether or not this is true cannot be definitively ascertained. After Willie died, Lincoln became so attached to his son Thomas “Tad” Lincoln that the boy was allowed to attend cabinet meetings and state dinners. “Tad” Lincoln died of diphtheria at the age of eighteen. “Tad” had a speech impediment, and his brother “Willie” had often interpreted for him. When the president traveled to Gettysburg to make his famous address, he wore a black crepe band on his hat in memory of his son Willie. Willie had died about nine months earlier. William Wallace “Willie” Lincoln’s body was taken from its temporary resting place in Washington, D.C. and accompanied his father’s remains to Springfield Cemetery in Illinois.

Neither Abraham Lincoln nor Andrew Johnson, who succeeded him in the President’s House ever spent a single day of their lives in a formal school classroom.

Abraham Lincoln continues to be, to this day, the most studied and written about of the presidents of the United States.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LINCOLN BED

Mrs. Lincoln bought the bed shortly after the couple moved into the White House. She had it placed in the northwest bedroom which is sometimes referred to as the Prince of Wales bedroom. No one knows for sure whether or not President Lincoln ever slept in it.

Julia Grant, who was not an admirer of the Lincolns, moved the bed to a small room on the north portico side of the White House. President and Mrs. Hayes put the bed in the State Bedroom, which is now the president’s personal study next to his private bedroom.

The bed was moved once again in 1901 when it was placed in the southwest bedroom suite and used by President Theodore and Edith Roosevelt. When the Taft family came to the White House, Nellie Taft had the bed moved to storage.

President Woodrow Wilson and Edith Wilson had the bed brought back to the White House and placed in the southwest presidential suite for their personal use. Wilson used the bed during his long recuperation from the debilitating stroke which occurred toward the end of his second term.

First Lady Florence Harding placed the Lincoln bed in the northwest suite where it had originally been installed. She made a shrine of it by surrounding it with Lincoln memorabilia and other items from that time period. President Calvin and Grace Coolidge slept in the Lincoln bed.

President and Mrs. Hoover had the Lincoln bed moved back to the northwest suite and renamed it the Lincoln Bedroom. The bed was moved to several different areas during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. For a period of time, it was used by one of Roosevelt’s aides and, later, by his daughter and her husband.

The Lincoln bed was moved to the southeast suite once again and for the final time, in 1945, the room was designated as the Lincoln Bedroom during the Truman administration where it remains to the present time. (adapted from “The Life and Times of the Lincoln Bed” in Noah McCullough’s First Kids, Scholastic, 2008, p. 65)

WHILE GETTING AN EDUCATION (Presidential Series) by L. Milton Hankins

WHILE GETTING AN EDUCATION (Presidential Series) by L. Milton Hankins

[The following column is the eighth of a series in COLUMNIST WITH A VIEW. The sketches are taken from the editor’s book manuscript Our Curious Presidents and Their Families.  Many books of presidential trivia are available; however, the pieces I have selected from my own research are somewhat obscure. Most of them come from presidential autobiographies, approved biographies, or the sources indicated.]

White House

John Adams was the first president who held an earned Master’s Degree (1758, Harvard). His son, John Quincy Adams, was initially denied entrance to Harvard College because he was deficient in Greek!

Thomas Jefferson studied, read, or spoke eight languages: Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, German, Gaelic, Italian and English. Most presidential historians, as well as presidents themselves, agree that Thomas Jefferson was the most innately intelligent of the presidents. He was the first president to establish a college or university (University of Virginia, Charlottesville).

Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison, the wife of William Henry Harrison was the first truly “educated” woman to become first lady, although she was never able to exercise her skills from the White House. Mrs. Harrison was raised by her maternal grandparents who supervised her excellent education at schools in New York. She had a keen intellect and thrived on engaging in political discussions.

As a prank while attending Union College, Chester A. Arthur helped throw the school’s bell into the Erie Canal!

Abigail Powers Fillmore taught herself to speak French.

In his second year at Bowdoin College, Franklin Pierce, whose classmates included Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, had the lowest grades in the class.

While a law student, Andrew Jackson and some drunken buddies completely demolished a local tavern.  After smashing furniture and breaking dishes and glasses, the future president and his accomplices burned the place down!

James Buchanan was expelled from Dickinson College for drunkenness and insolence.

Rutherford B. Hayes was a champion speller in school. Other presidents who said their favorite school subject was spelling include Warren G. Harding and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Theodore Roosevelt graduated magna cum laude (1880, Harvard). John F. Kennedy graduated cum laude (1940, Harvard)

Woodrow Wilson was the only president with an earned Doctor of Philosophy degree (1886, Johns Hopkins University).

Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover were both Stanford University graduates with degrees in geology.  In fact, Lou Henry was the first U.S. woman to receive that degree.

Harry S Truman was the last president who was not a college graduate.

Fellow students prophesied that Dwight D. Eisenhower would become a history professor at Yale University.  Actually, he became the president of Columbia University. Incidentally, Eisenhower was turned down by the U.S. Naval Academy because he was too old. He was accepted by the U.S. Military Academy…and the rest is history!

His senior class voted John F. Kennedy “most likely to succeed.”

His peers suggested that Lyndon B. Johnson would become Governor of Texas. They set their sights too low! Lady Bird Johnson was at the top of her graduating class in high school.

In his senior year of high school Richard Nixon won the Harvard Club of California’s award for “best all-around student” in the state. In 1933 Richard Nixon and some school friends snake-danced through town and broke into a theater without buying tickets.  When police hauled them off to jail, Nixon got them released by calling a friend, a Whittier alumnus who happened to be a judge. Portentously and foreshadowing, during his second year of law school, Nixon and two cohorts at Duke University broke into the dean’s office to get an advance look at their grades.

When Jimmy Carter’s English teacher introduced him to Tolstoy’s War and Peace, he was disappointed that the book was not about cowboys and Indians. Carter was denied valedictorian rank upon graduating from high school because of disciplinary action, but, he is the first and only president with a degree from the U.S. Naval Academy.

His senior class at Andover named George H. W. Bush “Best-All-Around-Fellow.” His picture was still hanging in the hallway during the 1960s when his son George W. attended the school. Although his family did not lack for money, George H. W. Bush attended college on the G. I. Bill.

Hillary Clinton was voted “most likely to succeed” by her high school graduating class. She dates her interest in politics to her high school years. Bill Clinton had already met Hillary Rodham (Clinton) at Yale University, but their paths crossed again briefly while Hillary was registering for classes. Bill talked with her for an hour while the registration line crept forward. When they reached the front of the line, an official shouted, “Bill, what are you doing here? You already registered!”

During the 1966 Christmas season, George W. Bush, along with several other drunken Yale comrades, were briefly arrested for trying to steal a Christmas wreath from a storefront. After questioning, the charges were dropped. During the annual Princeton-Yale game, Bush and his friends attempted to dismantle the goal posts at Princeton. The police ordered the young men to leave town. A relative has described Bush’s antics during his undergraduate years as “outrageous.”

Barack Obama has said, in interviews, that he was always interested in civics (politics and government) and history. He has a limited knowledge of Spanish, and some sources say he remembers some of the native language of Indonesia, where he spent part of his childhood and attended an Indonesian school.

So, Dads and Moms, there is still hope for your sons and your daughters!    

 

 

 

 

 

Milt Hankins is the publisher and editor of Columnist With a View (columnistwithaview.com). He lives in Ashland, Kentucky with his wife Deborah and two cheeky animals--Pearl, the big yeller cat, and Jose, a two-year-old, exceptionally loud six-pound chihuahua. Milt writes a weekly column for the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch.
THE “FIRST LADY” (Presidential Series) by L. Milton Hankins

THE “FIRST LADY” (Presidential Series) by L. Milton Hankins

[The following column is the sixth of a series in COLUMNIST WITH A VIEW. The sketches are taken from the editor’s book manuscript Our Curious Presidents and Their Families. Many books of presidential trivia are available, however, the pieces I have selected from my own research are somewhat obscure. Most of them come from presidential autobiographies, approved biographies, or the sources indicated.]

The term “First Lady” was first used by President Zachary Taylor in 1849 in reference to Dolley (Mrs. James) Madison at her state funeral. Dolley was the only “First Lady” ever given a state funeral. Her last appearance at the White Housewhite-house-754766_640 came in 1848 when she attended a ball given by President and Mrs. James K. Polk. The term “First Lady” was not widely used until Lucy Hayes was referred to as the “First Lady.” The general impression is that most first ladies do not care for the appellation.       

People called Abigail Adams “Madame President” or “First Lady,” but her husband called her by a more endearing nickname:  in his letters to his wife John Adams sometimes called her “Miss Jemima.” Warren G. Harding called his wife “The Duchess.” We are neither sure the nickname was endearing nor whether he called her that privately.  They had a very stormy relationship, to say the least! Franklin D. Roosevelt called his wife Eleanor “Babs.” Truman called his wife Bess “The Boss.” Lyndon B. Johnson referred to “Lady Bird” Johnson simply as “Bird.” Ronald Reagan called Nancy “Mommy.”

Many presidents were undoubtedly close to their wives, but among those who were most devoted would certainly be Andrew Jackson (his wife never lived in the White House), James Knox Polk, William McKinley, Harry S Truman, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Barack Obama.  Among those presidents who were least devoted to their wives would most likely be John Quincy Adams, Franklin Pierce, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton.

Among the most popular, notable, and admired first ladies were Dolley Madison, Francis Folsom Cleveland, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Michelle Obama.

“Florence Harding was a forceful presence in her husband’s administration. She created a whole new image for the first lady by holding her own press conferences and expressing her own opinions, which were often unexpected.”  Bess Truman was far more actively involved as a first lady than most people realized. After the Trumans returned to Independence, Missouri, the former president admitted that he never made a decision without first seeking his wife’s opinion.

Grace Coolidge (who had taught in a school for the hearing-visually impaired) taught her family “sign” language.  They often communicated in “sign” language when they wanted private conversation among themselves in the White House. Coolidge was the only president fluent in “sign” language. Lou Henry Hoover could speak five languages (including Mandarin Chinese) fluently.  Unlike many of the presidents, John F. Kennedy spoke no foreign languages (although he tried…unsuccessfully), while Jacqueline Kennedy spoke French and German fluently.

Mamie Eisenhower visited the Oval Office only four times during the eight years she lived in the White House–that’s once every two years! Mrs. Eisenhower was a very private person; however, it is true that she often voiced disagreement with some of her husband’s policies and even argued with him privately about them. Eisenhower once told a conference “Let me try this out on Mamie. She’s a pretty darn good judge of things.”

Pat Nixon had three memorable “firsts” while she lived in the White House. She was the first incumbent First Lady to endorse the Equal Rights Amendment. She was also the first president’s wife to make public her pro-choice view on abortion. And, Mrs. Nixon was the first president’s wife to wear slacks in public. Until Hillary Clinton, Pat Nixon was the nation’s “most traveled” first lady in history.

Barbara Bush became the only first lady to move directly from eight years as the wife of a vice-president to living in the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Jimmy Carter considered his wife Rosalynn his closest advisor. Mrs. Carter attended cabinet meetings, briefings, and met with the president weekly in the Oval Office to discuss policy and legislation related to her interests. Mrs. Carter was the first president’s wife to maintain an office in the East Wing of the White House. She was appropriately nicknamed “The Steel Magnolia,” and, for the first time, congress appropriated funds to support the work of a first lady.

For the first time in history, when Bill Clinton was elected president, both the president and the first lady were lawyers. History repeated itself with the election of Barack Obama. Michelle Obama graduated cum laude from Princeton University. After leaving the White House, Hillary Clinton was elected New York’s first female U. S. Senator.  She became the third female Secretary of State.

Five president’s wives taught school before marrying their husbands:  Abigail Powers Fillmore, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, Lou Henry Hoover, Pat Ryan Nixon and Laura Welch Bush.

Historians have substantiated that Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Bill Clinton had extra-marital affairs while living in the White House.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once attended a lecture in Alabama.  When she discovered the seating was segregated (whites on one side and blacks on the other), she picked up her chair and moved it to an open area in the middle.

 

 

 

STRANGE BUT TRUE (Presidential Series) by Milt Hankins

STRANGE BUT TRUE (Presidential Series) by Milt Hankins

[The following column is the fifth of a series in COLUMNIST WITH A VIEW. The sketches are taken from the editor’s book manuscript Our Curious Presidents and Their Families. Many books of presidential trivia are available, however, the pieces I have selected from my own research are somewhat obscure. Most of them come from presidential autobiographies, approved biographies, or the sources indicated.]

Inside the White House, the movements of the president, first lady, and others are tracked. Signals alert the secret service and ushers when they enter and leave a room.

President-elect George Washington’s debts were so large that he had to borrow $600 to afford making a trip from Virginia to New York for his inauguration. Martha Washington so disapproved of her husband taking the office of president of the United States she refused to accompany him to New York City for his first inaugural ceremony.

While visiting the home of William Shakespeare in 1786, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson chipped off a piece of wood from the Bard’s chair as a souvenir!

The U.S. government sponsored a competition for the design of the president’s house. Jefferson entered the competition anonymously and lost! Jefferson never accepted evening invitations. He refused to wear a white, powdered wig and introduced hand-shaking as opposed to bowing as the appropriate presidential greeting. He allowed no seats of honor at formal dinners, and he had a round dining table installed in the dining room so that no one would be seated “below the salt.”  Jefferson enjoyed doing his own marketing.  When he left the presidency, he was in debt to the tune of $10,000 for wine purchases.

John Quincy Adams’s son George entered a poetry contest and won it. Among the contestants was a poet named Ralph Waldo Emerson!

Well into his teens, Andrew Jackson suffered from habitual slobbering.  To avoid bad press, Jackson, while serving as president, registered his racehorses in local Washington, D.C. races under the name of his nephew by marriage Andrew Donelson.

John Tyler was so unpopular his administration was chaotic. When rioters marched on the White House, he armed White House servants to stand down the mob. Tyler was also frequently burned in effigy.

Few cut flowers were used in the White House during James Knox Polk’s administration.  At that time, it was commonly believed that flowers gave off unhealthy vapors. Polk had a bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson set up on the White House lawn. It remained there for twenty-seven years and was the only monument to a president ever to stand within the immediate enclosure of the White House.

In 1840 Abraham Lincoln became engaged to Mary Todd, but the first time their marriage ceremony was arranged, he did not show up! Later, they reconciled and were married in 1841.abraham-abe-lincoln-295314_640

[Abraham Lincoln]

While Lincoln was the Commander-in-Chief of the Union Army, First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s brother and three half-brothers fought for the Confederacy. When Lincoln was assassinated, the only currency in Lincoln’s pocket was a five-dollar Confederate note!

Ulysses S. Grant was arrested for speeding while president and insisted that he be given a ticket.  He had his security police bar African-Americans from the grounds of the White House during his two terms in office.

At least once, President Warren G. Harding gambled away a set of White House china in a poker game!

The Goodhue family never like their daughter Grace’s husband Calvin Coolidge either before they were married or after.  They found him to be overbearing and exceptionally controlling.  They also realized that Grace’s lively, gracious and gregarious personality clashed with Calvin’s taciturn reserve and coldness. Two examples will suffice:  Mrs. Coolidge did not know her husband would not run for a second term until he publicly announced it.  Mrs. Coolidge was allowed to make her only address to the public upon leaving the White House. She said, simply, “Goodbye.”

Herbert Hoover, a Quaker, was the first president married by a Catholic priest–not John F. Kennedy. First Lady Lou Henry Hoover never wore high heels!

Dwight D. Eisenhower had a piano placed on the presidential plane to help wife Mamie overcome her fear of flying. Ike played some 800 rounds of golf while living in White House, more than any other president.

John F. Kennedy once dated a former Miss Europe and film actress named Inga Arvad. Arvad was known to have high level connections with the Nazis in Germany.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

While attending John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ceremonies, First Lady Edith Bolling Wilson carried a flask of bourbon with her, ostensibly to combat a cold! First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt declined an offer to be seated on the main platform due to her extreme dislike for Kennedy’s father, Joseph Kennedy.

John Kennedy, Jr., the son of President and Mrs. Kennedy was dubbed “John-John” by the press. His family never called him “John-John.”

Lyndon B. Johnson wasn’t scared or ashamed to show off his…penis! He called it “Jumbo.” Once, when a reporter asked him why American troops were in Vietnam, LBJ unzipped his trousers, pulled out “Jumbo” and said, “This is why!” Johnson talked to reporters more than any previous president. He often used crude, earthy language. He never apologized for outbursts of temper but often would send the recipient of his outburst a generous gift. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Richard Nixon were also known for their crude and profane language.

Pat Nixon was the first president’s wife to insist that the White House be lit at night. She was also the first president’s wife to wear pants in public. Nixon once failed to announce his wife at a public appearance and left her behind until the matter was called to his attention.

The high wrought-iron fence surrounding the home of the Carters in Plains, Georgia once protected the Key Biscayne, Florida White House of Richard Nixon.

After working in an ice cream shop as a teenager, President Barack Obama never again liked ice cream

There have been as many Unitarians as Baptists living in the White House. The Unitarians were Presidents John and John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore and William Howard Taft. The Baptists were Warren G. Harding, Harry S Truman, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Three presidents have refused to accept their salaries while president: George Washington, Herbert Hoover, and John F. Kennedy.  Washington later relented and took his salary.