9 Facts You Didn’t Know About U.S. Presidents

Yes, that story American children all learn about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree and not being able to lie to his father is a myth!

In honor of this year’s Presidents’ Day on the 18th, here are some facts about those who have held the highest elected office in the U.S.. Some show they were just like us (many presidents have had pets) and not like us (some presidents kept wildlife as “pets”). They also reveal how much has changed since George Washington became our first president in 1789: Washington, for instance, was not born an American and did not have a college degree.

1) The eighth president, Martin van Buren, was the first to be born a U.S. citizen.

2) Presidents like having pets. Many have had dogs; Andrew Jackson had a parrot who cursed. John F. Kennedy and his family had a quite varied menagerie as did Theodore Roosevelt.

3) Earlier presidents certainly were not worrying about keeping what we would consider exotic (and, now, endangered) species as “pets.” Thomas Jefferson had two bear cubs and Martun Van Buren, two tiger cubs.

4) Ten presidents (including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Harry S Truman) did not have a college degree.

5) Eight early U.S. presidents (including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison)owned slaves while serving in our country’s highest office.

6) Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln movie depicts the 16th president heroically working to have the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed. But thehistorical record reveals that Lincoln wasn’t exactly the “most compassionate” of presidents. He gave the order for the largest mass execution on U. S. soil: On December 26, 1862, 38 alleged Native American raiders were hung by Lincoln’s order in Mankato, Minnesota.

7) Only one president, James Buchanan, never married. He is described as nearly inseparable from Alabama senator William T. King, who was known as “his wife.”

8) Andrew Johnson was not only the only tailor to become president and the first president to be impeached. He also sewed his own suits.

9) Attempts to alleviate the suffering of the 20th president, James A. Garfield, after he was shot on July 2, 1881 led to navy engineers creating what may have been the first air conditioner. Garfield was struck by two bullets and became more and more ill from infection. Six tons of ice and an air blower were part of a device to give him relief in the White House from Washington D.C.’s summer heat. Garfield died 80 days after he was shot — and the invention that brought relief to a mortally injured president is now one that needs regulating, as it is heating up the world.

10) So far, not a single woman has been elected as U.S. president. But women have been elected as president in Argentina, Finland, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Liberia, Malawi, Malta, Nicaragua, Philippines, South Korea and Sri Lanka– the U.S. clearly needs to do some catching up here.

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Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago


Eternal Gardener
Eternal G4 years ago


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin4 years ago

Can't remember the name now, but I know there's been more than one gay president in the USA. Have to get back to you on that one, whever I get the time to dig up all my documents.
Mythology about American history is rampant. From the lies about the pilgrims and the native population on the Thanksgiving issue, to the actions of American presidents and their involvement in progress of civil rights. Lincoln have always been credited with freeing the slaves, but it wasn't him that pushed the issue. Etc.
But the presidency of USA equals that of other countries royalties when it comes to glorifying and excusing behaviour. As long as the education system keeps facts away from children and enhance the mythology, I can see that nothing will change and hundred years from now (if the Earth/humanity survives that long) we will still hear stories about the greatness of massmurdering Presidents.

Cyan Dickirs
Cyan Dickirs4 years ago

Mary B & Pam W. You have merely proved my points.
I offered facts. Where are yours to contradict mine? Mine came from sources alleged to be used by the writers of the articles. Why don't you come up with some facts to contradict me?
If you and the rest who disagree with me are so intelligent and can read, how can my vocabulary "fool" anyone?
You pretend you do not insult, you claim to be so nice (where is the evidence), intelligent and logical, yet you insult me, and others, baselessly. You are ideologue without a clear ideology and you attack me on your assertion of opinions and statements I never made. With every post the two of you demonstrate your inability to correctly state or criticize what those posts actually say. You assume facts and opinions not in evidence. You employ the democratic fallacy as proof of nonexistent facts.
You both have used insulting terms and non proper names for those you "disagree" with, so why are you insulting me for using a common nickname for Hilbill and BO's initials? BTW, Mary referred to MS Clinton; if she wants to be accurate or "proper" it is MRS.
Again, and forever, just because anyone is legally female, does not make them good leaders, ie Pelosi, Boxer, McKaskill. HilBil will never get my vote or support for anything. She is a corrupt, angry, male style lawyer/politician with a questionable ideology. You do not have the consequences of US politicians. Your opinions do NOT carry as much weight as those who vote, live and su

Veronique L.
Veronique L4 years ago

Thank you!

Bill B.
Bill Both4 years ago

Mary L: Hate to disagree, but Johnson was impeached as was Bill Clinton. They are the only two Presidents who have been impeached.

You are probably confusing impeachment--which the House does and which equates with an indictment or grand jury report in a criminal court--with conviction. The House impeaches--or indicts--and the Senate convicts or acquits. No President has ever been convicted--although Richard Nixon certainly would have been had he not resigned.

Mary L.
Mary L4 years ago

Fact: Andrew Johnson was NOT impeached. No president ever has been. There was an impeachment proceeding but it failed.

Karen Garnett
karen Garnett4 years ago

I am completely lost as to the back and forth conversations going on here.

Bobbie Hensley
Bobbie Hensley4 years ago

I was born in the same town Andrew Johnson resided....Greeneville TN....very interesting to find out more facts about him as well as other presidents. Thanks for the informative article!