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Best Fun Facts For Presidents Day: Genes, Speeding Tix & Teacher Love

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By HVpolitics on February 18, 2013

It’s President’s Day, which to you probably means nothing more than a day off in February. While the names Lincoln and Washington grab all the headlines, here are some awesome lesser-known presidential facts.

1. John Tyler, our 10th president, born in 1790, has two LIVING grandsons: Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., born in 1924, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler, born in 1928.

He also fathered more children (15) than any president in history.

john tyler

2. When Barack Obama won in November, it marked the first time in almost 200 years that we elected three two-term presidents in a row. The last consecutive such streak was Jefferson > Madison > Monroe.

In fact, Americans born after 1980 have seen only one president seek reelection and lose: George H.W. Bush.

3. We’ve never had a president whose last name started with the extremely common letter S.

We have, however, had one with an S first name. Give up? Stephen Grover Cleveland. Harry S Truman’s middle name was just “S,” and Ulysses S. Grant was actually named Hiram Ulysses Grant. Those are the only two with “S” middle names, and in both cases, it’s not quite legit.


• SEE MORE: 57 Mind-Blowing Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

4. Here’s one that’ll knock your socks off: When George H.W. Bush was elected president, it was the first time since Martin Van Buren that a sitting vice president had been elected without the president dying.

• SEE MORE: 15 Ridiculous White House Pets

5. Hot For Millard’s Teacher: Even though there was only a two-year age gap between them, President Fillmore married his schoolteacher, Abigail.

In 1819, Abigail Powers accepted a teaching position at the New Hope Academy in New York, where her oldest pupil was an enterprising 19-year-old named Millard Fillmore. Sparks flew, and they married in 1826.

abigail fillmore
Wikimedia Commons

Some notable firsts you should know: Benjamin Harrison, No. 23, was the first prez to attend a baseball game. In 1910, Taft began the presidential “first pitch” tradition. FDR was the first to fly, in 1943. Richard Nixon was first to visit all 50 states. And Martin Van Buren, born in 1782, was the first president who was a U.S. citizen.

6. Ulysses S. Grant was pulled over and issued a speeding ticket … this being the 1870s, his speeding ticket came for RIDING A HORSE TOO FAST.

DCist has the full story on this gem:

The MPD officer’s name was William West, according to Significa, a 1983 compendium of weird facts about historical figures. Grant was driving his horse-drawn coach down M Street NW at such a great speed, that after West grabbed the horse’s bridle, it took half a block to stop the hasty president.

West, according to Marszalek, was so embarrassed when he discovered he had pulled over Grant that he offered to ignore the infraction. But Grant was magnanimous.

“The story goes that Grant says, ‘I was speeding, you caught me and I’ll pay the ticket,’ ” Marszalek says. At the time, speeding tickets were payable by a $5 fine. It was not Grant’s first.

AP Photo

7. Teddy Roosevelt had odd names for his guinea pigs.

The 26th president owned a number of guinea pigs, and he gave them all super-awesome names: Dr. Johnson, Bishop Doane, Fighting Bob Evans, Admiral Dewey and Father O’Grady.

8. But John Adams takes the cake for pet names — he named his dog “Satan.”

It’s surprising this name for a pet didn’t catch on, but hey, Rick Santorum would never enter a house where Satan has been, right?

9. We’ve only had one election in which someone lost both the popular and electoral vote but still won the election. No, it’s not George W. Bush: It was John Quincy Adams, back in 1824.

JQA was an interesting guy. A famed abolitionist, the sixth president took a nude swim every morning in the Potomac river. He is also the first president to have a photograph taken, and he looks pretty happy about it:

Wikimedia Commons

10. Only two men have appeared four times on a winning presidential ticket: FDR and Nixon.

Wikimedia Commons

BONUS: And one fun fact about #2: Not many people know that we’ve had a Native American vice president. Charles Curtis, veep to Hoover, claimed Kaw, Osage and Pottawatomie ancestry.

Wikimedia Commons

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57 Mind-Blowing Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Facts compiled by Cooper Fleishman, Matthew Zaremsky and Slade Sohmer.

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