Presidential Trivia, Fun Facts and Firsts

Harry Truman

Harry S. Truman was the first president to give a speech on television.

Harry S. Truman was the first president to give a speech on television.

William Taft’s wife was responsible for the planting of the Japanese cherry trees in Washington.

James Buchanan was the only president that never married.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was paralyzed from the disease polio; he served his entire presidency without the use of legs.

James Buchanan tired of being president and refused to run for reelection.

Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to travel outside the U.S. – Panama.

Zachary Taylor’s wife, Margaret, learned to shoot a gun when she lived with her husband on the Western frontier. When she lived in the White House, she refused to serve as hostess, giving that role to their daughter Betty Taylor Bliss.

Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, was riding two cars behind President Kennedy’s car when he was assassinated in Dallas, Texason November 22, 1963. Johnson was administered the presidential oath aboard Air Force One.

William Taft is the only president to also serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1921-1930).

Witness to some of the bloodiest battles in history, Ulysses S. Grant could not stomach the sight of animal blood. Rare steak nauseated him.

John Adams was the first president to reside in the White House, moving in November, 1800 while the paint was still wet.

When England’s Prince of Wales visited the White House in 1860, so many guests accompanied him that James Buchanan had to sleep in the hall.

Theodore Roosevelt craved attention. It was said that he wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.

William Taft was the first president to own a car.

Before becoming a politician, Lyndon B. Johnson taught school in Texas.

Harry Truman popularized the saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”

George Washington owned 300 slaves when he died.

Franklin Pierce’s wife, Jane, discouraged her husband’s interest in politics.

Jimmy Carter was the sixth cousin of Richard Nixon.

Ulysses S. Grant’s wife, Julia, owned slaves during the Civil War while her husband served as general of the Union Army.

Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded the prize in 1906 for his role as peacemaker in the Russo-Japanese War.

Gerald Ford Cosmopolitan

Gerald Ford once worked as a fashion model for Cosmopolitan and Look magazines in the 1940’s. He was on this Cosmopolitan cover with Phyllis Brown in April 1942. Illustrator Bradshaw Crandall.

Gerald Ford once worked as a fashion model for Cosmopolitan and Look magazines in the 1940’s.

John F. Kennedy was the only president to win a Pulitzer Prize, for his biography “Profiles in Courage”.

Abraham Lincoln was the first president to wear a beard and the tallest president at 6’ 4″.

Ronald Reagan was the first actor elected president. He acted in 53 films before becoming president.

Andrew Johnson was impeached for removing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton during the turbulent Reconstruction Period but was acquitted by one vote in the Senate.

Andrew Jackson was the only president to have been a prisoner of war.

The tradition of playing “Hail to the Chief” whenever a president appeared at a state function was started by John Tyler’s second wife.

Lyndon B. Johnson rejected his official portrait painting, saying it was the ugliest thing he ever saw.

William Henry Harrison was the first president to die in office, about 32 days after elected.

Ronald Reagan was twice named Time magazine’s “Man of the Year.”

Ulysses S. Grant smoked 20 cigars a day, which probably caused the throat cancer that resulted in his death.

While Rutherford B. Hayes was still in the Union Army, Cincinnati Republicans ran him for the House of Representatives. He accepted the nomination, but would not campaign, explaining, “an officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer… ought to be scalped.”

John Quincy Adams was the son the 2nd president, John Adams, who served from 1797-1801.

John F. Kennedy was the only president to appoint his brother to a cabinet post.

George Washington StampGeorge Washington was the first President to be on a postage stamp. His face is also on the $1 bill and the quarter.

Ulysses S. Grant was the first president to host an Indian Chief in the White House.

William Taft owned the last presidential cow.

Harry S. Truman was the first president to travel underwater in a submarine.

John F. Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic president.

Chester A. Arthur told a temperance group that called on him at the White House, “I may be President of the United States, but my private life is my own damn business.”

Theodore Roosevelt lost the sight in one eye while boxing in the White House.

Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, was at the scene of or nearby three presidential assassinations — his father’s (he was at the White House having declined an invitation to Ford’s Theatre from his parents), William McKinley’s, and James Garfield’s. He was also once saved from possible injury or death by Edwin T. Booth, the brother of his father’s assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Bill Clinton was the first president to be a Rhodes Scholar.

Rutherford B. Hayes was the first president to visit the West Coast.

“First Lady” was used first in 1849 when President Zachary Taylor called Dolley Madison “First Lady” at her state funeral. It gained popularity in 1877 when used in reference to Lucy Ware Webb Hayes. Most First Ladies, including Jackie Kennedy, are said to have hated the label.

Grover Cleveland was the only president to be elected two nonconsecutive terms. (22nd President)

Ronald Reagan was the only divorced president (update: Donald Trump is the second president to have been divorced).

Andrew Jackson was the only president to serve in both the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

5 thoughts on “Presidential Trivia, Fun Facts and Firsts”

  1. One correction….Robert Lincoln was not in attendance at Ford’s Theater to witness his father’s assassination.

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