15 Wacky Facts Your History Teacher Didn’t Tell You About U.S. Presidents

The February celebration of our United States presidents makes every citizen think of the great things our presidents have done in nearly 250 years. When you think of the United States presidents, does bartender come to mind? Does a new Japanese word ring a bell? Stilts anyone? Our presidents have led our country into and out of wars and through laws and bills without steadfast professionalism but in their everyday lives; they have done some pretty wacky stuff.

  1. For example, did you know that Abraham Lincoln was the only U.S. president who was also a licensed bartender, served drinks and was co-owner of Berry and Lincoln, a saloon in Springfield, Illinois?
  2. Grover Clevelandwas also a bit of a Grover-of-all-trades serving as a hangman for the sheriff’s office in Erie County, NY.
  3. Andrew Jackson would only wear suits he made for himself and was the only tailor to ever become president.
  4. Teddy Roosevelt may have held the title of President but it seems he may have secretly longed to be in the circus. He was famous for speaking softly and carrying a big stick but also used sticks of another kind. Every member of his family including the first lady owned and used a pair of stilts!
  5. There were many wacky firsts in the lives of our illustrious presidents. While talking on the phone is commonplace now, James Garfieldwas the first president to talk on a phone.
  6. Martin Van Buren was the first United States president to actually be a United States citizen; all other presidents had been of British citizenship.
  7. While it goes without saying that we know that Nixon was the first president to resign from office; did you know that he was the first president to visit all 50 states and the first to visit China? A short while after Nixon’s scandal-marred presidency…
  8. Jimmy Carter became the first president to be born in a hospital and more wackily; the first president to go on record as claiming he saw a UFO.
  9. Our presidents may have upheld and created laws but they didn’t always follow the laws to the letter. Thomas Jefferson visited the birthplace of Shakespeare. Apparently awe-struck to the point of momentary lawlessness, they allegedly and slyly cut into one of Shakespeare’s chairs and took the wood chips home as souvenirs of their journey to Stratford-upon-Avon.
  10. Other presidents quietly went against the law of the day. James Buchanan secretly bought and set free slaves.
  11. George Bush, Sr. was a great ambassador to other countries except on the unfortunate day that he vomited on the Japanese Prime Minister. The Japanese were dutifully impressed (or repulsed) enough to create a new word in the Japanese language: Bushusuru which means “to do the Bush thing”/publicly vomit.
  12. James Madison was a strong president but was of the smallest stature in the history of the office. James stood only 5’4” and never weighed more than 100 pounds.
  13. Ronald Reagen, on the other hand, was voted ‘Most Nearly Perfect Male Figure’from the University of California in 1940.
  14. John Tyler may not have been the tallest president (Abraham Lincolnholds that distinction at 6’4’) but he could lay claim to being the most prolific president. Mr. Tyler had 15 children—8 by his first wife and 7 by his second. As a further distinction, he was 70 years old when his last daughter, Pearl, was born.
  15. Herbert Hooverfalls into his own category of wacky president facts. His White House servants were under his orders to hide and remain out of his site, or get fired.


From their unconventional careers to their quirky “firsts, American presidents have lead very interesting lives. Happy President’s Day to every Mr. President!


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