Strange Fun Facts About our First Ten Presidents
George Washington, 1st President: 1789-1797 Political Party: Federalist
Nickname: "Father of His Country"
• The Electoral College elected Washington unanimously in 1789, and again in the 1792 election; he remains the only president to receive 100% of the electoral votes. At his inauguration, he insisted on having Barbados Rum served.
• Washington never lived in the White House. The nation’s capital was located in Philadelphia, as well as several other cities, prior to its move to Washington, D.C.
• George Washington was the only president who did not represent a political party.
• At his inauguration, Washington had only one tooth. At various times he wore dentures made of human teeth, animal teeth, ivory or even lead, but never wood.
John Adams, 2nd President: 1797-1801 Political Party: Federalist
Nickname: "Atlas of Independence"
• John Adams was the first president to reside in the White House, moving in November 1800 while the paint was still wet. Mrs. Adams would hang her laundry in the East Room to dry.
• When Adams and his family moved to Washington to live in the White House, they got lost in the woods north of the city for several hours.
• John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1826. Not knowing that Thomas Jefferson has already passed John Adams was quoted as saying "Jefferson survives," when he whispered his last words.
Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President: 1801-1809 Political Party: Democratic-Republican
Nicknames: "Man of the People"; "Sage of Monticello"
• Thomas Jefferson was the main author of the Declaration of Independence.
• Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.
• Thomas Jefferson wrote his own epitaph never mentioning that he served as president. His epitaph read, "Author of the Declaration of American Independence, Author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and the Father of the University of Virginia.
• Jefferson is credited with several inventions, including the swivel chair, a pedometer, a machine to make fiber from hemp, a letter-copying machine, and the lazy susan.
James Madison, 4th President: 1809-1817 Political Party: Democratic-Republican
Nicknames: "Father of the Constitution"
• James Madison was one of two (George Washington was the other), American presidents to sign the Constitution. Madison’s contributions towards the development of the Constitution earned him the title "Father of the Constitution."
• Madison was the first president to wear trousers rather than knee breeches.
• James Madison was the shortest and lightest president at 5 feet, 4 inches and about 100 pounds.
• During the War of 1812 Madison was under enemy fire. He was the first president to be in that situation.
James Monroe, 5th President: 1817-1825 Political Party: Democratic-Republican
Nicknames: "The Last Cocked Hat"; "Era-of-Good-Feeling President"
• James Monroe was the first president to ride a steamboat.
• Monroe’s daughter was the first to be a bride in the White House.
• Monroe was wounded during the Revolutionary War.
•He was the first president to have been a U.S. senator.
•In the election of 1820 Monroe received every electoral vote except one. A New Hampshire delegate wanted Washington to be the only president elected unanimously.
•The bride in the first White House wedding was Monroe's daughter.
•The U.S. Marine Band played at Monroe's 1821 inauguration and at every inauguration since.
John Quincy Adams, 6th President: 1825-1829 Political Party: Democratic-Republican
Nickname: "Old Man Eloquent"
• John Quincy Adams dug the first spade of dirt near Little Falls to begin the construction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal on July 4, 1828.
• John Quincy Adams regularly swam nude in the Potomac River. The first American professional journalist, Anne Royall, knew of Adams’ 5:00 a.m. swims. After being refused interviews with Adams many times, she went to the river, gathered his clothes and sat on them until she had her interview. Before this, no female had interviewed a president.
• John Quincy Adams was the son of a former president and the first to be photographed.
•Adams is the only president to be elected to the House after his presidency.
Andrew Jackson, 7th President: 1829-1837 Political Party: Democrat
Nickname: "Old Hickory"
• Andrew Jackson was the first president born in a log cabin (South Carolina).
• Andrew Jackson was the first president to ride in a train.
• Andrew Jackson was the first American president to experience and survive an assassination attempt. Jackson was at the Capitol when an unemployed house painter fired a pistol at him. The pistol misfired. The would-be assassin drew a second pistol, which also misfired.
•Jackson was the only president who served in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
•Jackson was the only president to have been a prisoner of war. He was thirteen when he joined the South Carolina militia to fight in the Revolutionary War. After his capture, he was ordered to clean the boots of a British officer. Jackson refused. The officer then drew his sword and slashed Jackson across the forehead, leaving a scar.
Martin Van Buren, 8th President: 1837-1841 Political Party: Democrat
Nicknames: "The Little Magician"; "The Red Fox of Kinderhook"
• The term "O.K." is credited to Van Buren who was raised in Kinderhook, New York. After he went into politics, Van Buren became known as "Old Kinderhook." Soon people were using the term O.K. referring to Van Buren and the word "okay" was derived.
• Van Buren was the first U.S. president born in the United States. The presidents preceding Van Buren were born in colonies that later became states. Van Buren was the first to be born after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution.
• Martin Van Buren was the first president of Dutch ancestry. He and his wife spoke Dutch at home.
• His autobiography does not mention his wife once.
William Henry Harrison, 9th President: 1841-1841 Political Party: Whig
Nicknames: "Old Tippecanoe"; "Old Tip"
• William Henry Harrison was the only president who studied to become a doctor.
• William Henry Harrison served the shortest presidency.
• Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address, and was the first president to die in office, about 32 days after elected. On March 4, he gave a 105 minute speech and did not wear an overcoat or hat. He developed pneumonia and died in the White House exactly one month after giving his speech, on April 4.
John Tyler, 10th President: 1841-1845 Political Party: Whig
Nicknames: "Accidental President"; "His Accidency"
• John Tyler was the first vice president to ascend to the presidency upon the death of a president. He did not make an inaugural address, and he never ran for the office of the Presidency.
• Tyler was the president with the most children—he had 15.
• The tradition of playing "Hail to the Chief" whenever a president appeared at a state function was started by Tyler’s second wife.
• Five years after leaving office, Tyler was so poor he was unable to pay a bill for $1.25 until he had sold his corn crop.