This was supposed to be ready yesterday, but the internet cut out… again. *sigh* My sincerest apologies.
So yesterday, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated the 45th president of the United States of America, and no matter what side of the aisle you stand on, I think we all agree that that is pretty big news. So, in honor of the passing of the presidential baton, here are some of my favorite presidential facts.
First up – Thomas Jefferson invented the swivel chair. Some English and French designs had previously come pretty close to being this invention, but it was T.J. who first created what we would recognize as a modern seat that spins. And though the Continental Congress gave Jefferson plenty of grief for his rotating throne, they wouldn’t be so jolly if they could see the modern office.
Abraham Lincoln suffered from “melancholy”, known today as depression. He came dangerously close to suicide several times, and some reports even say he refused to carry a knife with him because he was afraid he would use it on himself.
Personally, I find this fact very inspiring. No matter how hard it gets, you can still do great things – Abe Lincoln wanted to die, but without him, this country might not exist today. That gives me, at least, comfort.
President Rutherford B. Hayes’ cat Siam was the first Siamese cat in America, ever. Also, as a young man, this president was very attractive.
President Herbert Hoover took a trip to South America, where he was delighted by a game called “Bull in the Ring”. Upon his return to the States, his doctor used the game as inspiration for “Hooverball”, a game intended to keep the president in shape. It’s basically volleyball with a medicine ball, and some say that President Hoover used to challenge foreign dignitaries to play (sort of like that Putin vs. Obama manliness contest that happened a few years back over social media). Among other rules, if there are more than four players on each team, TWO medicine balls have to be in play at all times. So if you want a really intense workout, presidential style…
But, Herb’s doctor, Joel T. Boone, also won a Medal of Honor, so maybe we should take his game seriously?
One more interesting fact about Hoover: he lived in China for a while, so both he and his wife were fluent in Mandarin. Whenever they wanted to have a private discussion in the White House, they would switch from English to Mandarin Chinese.
Theodore Roosevelt was hardcore. Like, really hardcore. He lost his wife and mother on the same day; after one had finished dying in his arms, Ted had to go upstairs to watch the other leave this world mere hours later. Despite this, he went on to become one of this country’s favorite presidents.
As if that wasn’t enough, he was once shot in the middle of a speech, and didn’t give a flying flip about it. He just went ahead and finished the speech. Chuck Norris wishes he could be Teddy Roosevelt.
FDR was related to Theodore Roosevelt; everyone knows that. However, he was also distantly related to Presidents Washington, Madison, van Buren, Taylor, Grant, Taft, and both Adams and Harrisons. Moreover, his distant familial ties to power extended across the Atlantic; he was reportedly related to Winston Churchill as well. So apparently, the presidency is at least partially genetic.
In 1992, President George H.W. Bush traveled to Japan, ate some bad sushi, and proceeded to throw up all over the Japanese Prime Minister. This has inspired the Japanese word “Bushusuru”, meaning to “do the Bush thing” – vomit. What a legacy.
President Andrew Johnson was apprenticed to a tailor as a child, so as president, he made all of his own suits. Presidential and pretty!
President Grover Cleveland had throat cancer. At the time, the country was in a delicate state financially, not to mention that there was a LOT of stigma associated with cancer and those who suffered from it. So when Cleveland’s doctor recommended surgery, the president took a secret “fishing trip” on a yacht where a team of top surgeons gave him a clandestine operation, removing several teeth and a good section of his upper jaw (the jaw was replaced with rubber). The public was not informed (well, they were, but a good smear campaign ensured that they didn’t believe it), and even today doctors recognize the surgery as a medicinal feat; it only took an hour and a half to complete.
John Quincy Adams was a lover of nude bathing. Every morning, he would skinny-dip in the Potomac River at 5 a.m. He also gave an interview to Anne Royall, making her the first female reporter to interview an American president, when she hid his clothes until he agreed to give her her story. See, this is the stuff we should be learning in history class!