Presidential Trivia

Updated: Feb 18


Happy Presidents' Day! Stump your friends and family with these quick and fun facts about each of our presidents.


1. George Washington (1789-97) - The only president unanimously elected to the office.

2. John Adams (1797-1801) - When he 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.

3. Thomas Jefferson (1801-09) - He was the country's first known spelunker (cave explorer). He also could read Greek, Latin, French, and English.

4. James Madison (1809-17) - He was the smallest of all the presidents at only 5'4" and around 100 pounds. He was also one of only two presidents to sign the Constitution. Who was the other?

5. James Monroe (1817-25) - The year Monroe took office, the White House was painted white.

6. John Quincy Adams (1825-29) - This president used to regularly swim nude in the Potomac River. A journalist found out about his swims and sat on the edge of the river with his clothes until he gave her an interview. Anne Royall was the first female to interview a president.

7. Andrew Jackson (1829-37) - The first president to ride in a railroad train and the only president to kill a man in a duel.

8. Martin Van Buren (1837-41) - The term “O.K.” is credited to Martin 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. The first president to be born under the Articles of Confederation.

9. William Henry Harrison (1841) - Delivered the longest inaugural address at 105 minutes. He did not wear an overcoat or hat and afterward developed pneumonia and died in the White House exactly one month after giving his speech, on April 4.

10. John Tyler (1841-45) - 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.

11. James K. Polk (1845-49) - The first president to have his inauguration reported by the telegraph. He fulfilled all of his campaign promises.

12. Zachary Taylor (1849-50) - His horse freely grazed the White House lawn. He received his nomination for the presidency late because he refused all postage due correspondences.

13. Millard Fillmore (1850-53) - He and his cabinet helped fight the Library Congress fire of 1851. He and his wife installed the first White House library.

14. Franklin Pierce (1853-57) - Installed the first heating system in the White House. The only president to have no turnover in his cabinet.

15. James Buchanan (1857-61) - The only president to never marry. He became tired of being president and refused to run for reelection.

16. Abraham Lincoln (1861-65) - The first president to die by assassination. Illinois is known as the "Land of Lincoln."

17. Andrew Johnson (1865-69) - He had no formal education and his wife taught him how to read and write.

18. Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77) - While president, he was arrested and fined $20 for driving his horse too fast.

19. Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-81) - During his administration, the first telephone was hung in the White House by Alexander Graham Bell himself.

20. James A. Garfield (1881-81) - Campaigned for the presidency from the front porch of his house.

21. Chester A. Arthur (1881-85) - Told a temperance group that called on him at the White House, “I may be President of the United States, but my private life is my own damn business.” He destroyed all of his personal papers before his death.

22. Grover Cleveland (1885-89) - Since Grover Cleveland was the sole supporter of his family during the Civil War, he paid a substitute to take his place.

23. Benjamin Harrison (1889-93) - The first president to use electricity in the White House. After he got shocked once, his family often refused to touch the switches and would leave the lights on at all hours.

24. Grover Cleveland (1893-97) - Dedicated the Statue of Liberty on October 28, 1886. Served as a sheriff in Erie County, NY and as a public executioner.

25. William McKinley (1897-1901) - The first president to campaign by telephone and ride in an automobile.

26. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) - The term "teddy bear" was coined in 1903 when "Teddy" Roosevelt was gifted a stuffed bear.

27. William Howard Taft (1909-13) - First of two presidents to be buried in Arlington National Cemetary. He owned the last presidential cow and the first presidential car. His wife planted the cherry tree in D.C.

28. Woodrow Wilson (1913-21) - During his presidency, a flock of sheep was raised on the White House lawn to produce wool for the Red cross. He was also the first president to have earned a Ph.D.

29. Warren G. Harding (1921-23) - He played golf and poker twice and week and often played baseball and boxed. He was also the first president to own a radio.

30. Calvin Coolidge (1923-29) - He averaged nine hours of sleep a night and took afternoon naps of two to four hours.

31. Herbert Hoover (1929-33) - The first president born west of the Mississippi River and donated his entire salary to charity. He often spoke in Chinese to his wife to keep their conversations private.

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45) - The only president to be elected four times. Following his service, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was enacted, limiting the president to two terms.

33. Harry S. Truman (1945-53) - Read every single book in his hometown library.

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-61) - The only president to serve in both WWI and WWII. He also played football at West Point and was injured trying to tackle NFL star, Jim Thorpe.

35. John F. Kennedy (1961-63) - Upon their 21st birthdays, JFK and all of his siblings each received $1,000,000 from their father.

36. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-69) - He would go through the White House at night to turn off unnecessary lights. He did not want to waste the taxpayer's money.

37. Richard Nixon (1969-74) - With an impending impeachment trial following the Watergate scandal, Nixon resigned from office making him the only president to ever resign.

38. Gerald Ford (1974-77) - Two assassination attempts on his life were made by women. Gerald Ford is the only president who was employed by the National Park Service. He served as a Yellowstone Park Ranger in 1936.

39. Jimmy Carter (1977-81) - The first president to live to see the 40th anniversary of his inauguration.

40. Ronald Reagan (1981-89) - Lived in Monmouth, IL for a short time during his youth and was credited by a local paper with saving a bird's nest that fell out of a tree on Monmouth College's campus.

41. George H.W. Bush (1989-93) - Served as captain of the baseball team at Yale University. Survived four plane crashes during WWII.

42. Bill Clinton (1993-2001) - The first U.S. Democratic president to win reelection since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

43. George W. Bush (2001-2009) - The first son of a president to take the office since John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams.

44. Barack Obama (2009-17) - From age 6 to 10, Obama lived in Indonesia with his mother and stepfather. In 1971, he moved back to Hawaii and lived with his maternal grandparents. He doesn't like ice cream anymore after working at Baskin-Robbins as a teenager.

45. Donald Trump (2017-Present) - He does not drink any alcohol since his brother died of alcoholism in 1982. He does love Diet Coke, though. He owns and operates 18 golf courses around the world.

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© 2020 by Empower the People: Civic Education for All. Managed by Emma Hildebrand. Adams County, IL.