Interesting United States President Facts Part 3 (25th-32th President)
This is a continuation of the four part “Interesting U.S. President Facts” series. If you’re interested in the other parts, you can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4.
25) William McKinley Facts:
McKinley worked jobs as a postal clerk and as a teacher before the Civil War. He joined the army as a Private and rose to the rank of Major by war’s end. He then decided to study law and got into politics thanks to his close friend from the army, future President Rutherford B. Hayes. His first political job was giving speeches on behalf of Hayes.
McKinley and his wife were extremely close and after she became epileptic, they rarely were ever seen apart. The two had two daughters, one died as a baby, the other when just a few years old of typhoid fever.
After McKinley had been shot twice, his immediate action was to save the life of the assassin who a mob had gathered around. He then asked for them to break the news gently to his wife.
He seemed to get better after surgery, but infection set in and he died 10 days after being shot. His last words were to his wife, who said she wanted to die with him. He replied, “We are all going, we are all going. God’s will be done, not ours.”
On the way to his funeral, his wife was “huddled in a compartment of the funeral train, praying that the Lord would take her with her Dearest Love.”
After the funeral, she set up a shrine in their home and regularly visited McKinley’s burial vault. It was thought she wouldn’t last long after his death, but lived another 6 years before dying at 59.
Roosevelt was shot by saloon keeper John Schrank on October 14, 1912. His life was saved thanks to a steel eyeglass case and his 50 page speech he was carrying in his jacket, both of which the bullet had to pass through. His decision to go ahead with his speech, rather than seek medical aid immediately, was from concluding that because he was not coughing up blood, the bullet must not have penetrated that deeply into his chest.
His opening line for the speech was, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” X-rays later showed that the bullet had lodged 3 inches into his chest and was embedded in his ample chest muscle.
Roosevelt’s wife Alice died of undiagnosed kidney failure shortly after giving birth to their daughter Alice, and on the same day and in the same house as his mother died of typhoid fever 11 hours earlier, he simply put a giant X in his journal and wrote one sentence under it: “The light has gone out of my life.”
Many more interesting Teddy Roosevelt facts can be found here: The Amazing Life of Theodore Roosevelt
27) William Howard Taft Facts:
Known for his obesity, flatulence, and frequent belching, it’s often stated that Taft once got stuck in a White House bathtub as he was too fat to squeeze out. In order to get himself out, he had butter brought to him, which was smeared all over. After he got out, he ordered a larger bathtub. However, it isn’t actually clear any part of this story is true, lacking any primary sources, despite it being widely repeated today.
Taft is also noted as being the only President to also become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which was really his life’s ambition. According to his wife, “never did he cease to regard a Supreme Court appointment as more desirable than the presidency.”
Taft was one of the Presidents who was a member of the Yale “Skull and Bones” society, which Taft’s father had founded. Other noted individuals who were members of this society include President George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, John Kerry, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, Secretary of Defense Robert A. Lovett, Senator David L. Boren, and Obama’s economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, among others.
Woodrow Wilson holds the record as the President who played the most rounds of golf. Wilson played over 1,000 rounds of this sport while in office, so about one round every other day. He didn’t play golf much before becoming President, but as he couldn’t cycle any more, as was his former hobby, he took up golf instead.
Wilson was also the first sitting President to attend a World Series and the first to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a World Series. He had been a center fielder in college.
Wilson’s second wife was a direct descendant of Pocahontas.
Known for a bit of a gambling problem, Harding once lost a set of White House China in a bet. He also had affairs with at least 4 women, including one who claimed her daughter was also Harding’s daughter and that she had sex with him in a White House closet. His presidency was noted for its numerous scandals and corruption of his cabinet.
Before politics, Harding was a successful newspaper publisher. He also is credited with coining the term “Founding Fathers” in 1916.
After Calvin Coolidge died and upon hearing the news that he was no longer alive, Dorothy Parker stated, “How can they tell?” Coolidge was known for his shy, quiet, and calm demeanor, offset by his wife’s boisterous, friendly, and outgoing personality.
Coolidge first met his wife, Grace Anna Goodhue, when he was shaving with nothing but underwear and a hat on. She saw him through a window as she was watering some flowers. As to the hat, he later told her he generally wore a hat while shaving to keep his hair out of his face. Coolidge soon proposed to Grace, against the objections of her mother, by stating “I am going to be married to you” rather than asking her.
After getting married, Coolidge gave his wife 52 pairs of socks that had holes in them for her to fix. She asked him, “Did you marry me to darn your socks?” He said, “No, but I find it mighty handy.”
Coolidge later said of his wife, “We thought we were made for each other. For almost a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces.”
As a child, Hoover was once pronounced dead, but was revived by Dr. John Minthorn, who was Hoover’s uncle and who Hoover lived with as both his parents had died when he was quite young. Before his father died, he often called Herbert “My little stick in the mud”. Hoover apparently had trouble crossing muddy streets when he was little, often getting stuck.
While President, Hoover and his wife frequently spoke together in Mandarin Chinese in order to have private conversations despite there almost always being others around.
Before Jimmy Carter surpassed him on September 7, 2012, Hoover held the record for the longest retirement period after being President at 31 years, 7 months, 16 days.
32) Franklin D. Roosevelt Facts:
The fifth cousin of Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt also married Teddy’s niece, Eleanor Roosevelt. However, their marriage was not a happy one. Eleanor stated she thought sex was “an ordeal to be endured” and, perhaps because of it, or maybe just because Franklin was a bit of a pig, he had several affairs, including a long standing one with Eleanor Roosevelt’s secretary, Lucy Mercer. When Eleanor found out, she offered Roosevelt a divorce so that he could marry Lucy. However, as Lucy was Catholic, she didn’t feel she could marry a divorced man (having sex with a married man, apparently wasn’t a problem).
Franklin and Eleanor decided to stay together and Franklin promised not to see Lucy anymore… a promise he promptly broke and continued to regularly correspond with her and later continuing the affair.
While this wasn’t widely known at the time, of course the Secret Service knew all about it and had codenamed Lucy, “Mrs. Johnson”.
This wasn’t the only long-standing affair Roosevelt had, his son Elliot claimed that his father also had had a 20 year long affair with his secretary Marguerite LeHand, which overlapped with his affair with Lucy.
Eleanor said of the affairs, “I have the memory of an elephant. I can forgive, but I cannot forget.” The two lived apart for the latter part of their marriage. As Roosevelt’s health declined, he asked Eleanor to come live with him again, she refused.
Roosevelt died while sitting for a painting, with his last words being “I have a terrific pain in the back of my head.” (He had a cerebral hemorrhage.)
If you know any more interesting Presidential facts about any of the above, please leave them in the comments below. You can find facts about the rest of the Presidents here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4.
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