Money, money, money, money. MONEY! I bet that got your attention!
When you think of the former faces of the U.S. presidents, you're probably thinking about your full or empty wallet! From George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to Andrew Jackson, you might be counting your bills right now - and don't forget good ole Ulysses. While it might be easy to remember the five presidents (don't forget Jefferson on the $2) who appear on your money, what about the other 40?
Thinking back on our former presidents, it's easy to remember some of their faces. If you're missing a $5 bill, you can look at the Lincoln Memorial or Mount Rushmore for a glimpse of Abraham. You probably have a single on you now, but for a look at the elusive Jefferson on the $2 bill, you'd also find him hanging around Mount Rushmore with Washington and Teddy Roosevelt.
What about the other Roosevelt? Do you recognize your 32nd president? Can you spot the difference between John Adams and John Quincy Adams? Did Harry S. Truman wear glasses or was it Woodrow Wilson? Or both? While more recent presidents were able to have their picture taken, the early U.S. presidents had to settle for paintings and so do you!
Can you recognize your presidents if they're not on your money? How good are you at pinpointing the men who shaped our country today? Do you have a good eye? Let's find out!
Abraham Lincoln was the only president to have a patent: Lincoln invented a device to free steamboats that ran aground. He supported women's right to vote in 1836 - he was a suffragette before it became fashionable. He was a big animal lover, but he wouldn’t hunt or fish. He hated being called Abe. Apparently, he preferred being called by his last name.
Bill Clinton was born on August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas. Clinton was the second-youngest president ever elected, when he defeated President George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot in 1992. He was 46 years old at the time of his inauguration. In 1996, President Clinton became the first Democrat to be elected to a second term since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech so impressed a teenage Clinton that he memorized the entire speech right after it was given.
George Bush made history by declining to use his executive veto power, at least during his first term. Nine days after the September 11th attacks, Bush addressed a joint session of Congress, declaring to the world, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Bush ran in a 1993 marathon and averaged about 8.5 minutes per mile. Bush is the first president to have completed the 26.2-mile race.
George Washington was actually born on February 11, 1731, but when the colonies switched to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar, his birthday moved eleven days. Because his birthday fell before the old date for New Year’s Day, but after the new date for New Year’s Day, his birth year was changed to 1732. Also, the pictures you see of him are of his real hair, not a wig.
George W. Bush had both the lowest and highest approval ratings in United States history. After the September 11, 2001, attacks, his approval rating was at 90 percent. Just before the 2008 elections, his approval rating was at 25 percent. In Texas, George Bush was the first governor to be elected to two consecutive terms. He resigned in 2000 after winning the presidential election. The 2002 State of the Union address was the first to broadcast live on the Internet.
Ronald Reagan really enjoyed jelly beans. According to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, his favorite flavor was licorice. Reagan started eating jelly beans in 1967, when he was trying to quit a pipe-smoking habit. Ronald Reagan started out in life as a Democrat and supported the New Deal efforts of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Reagan officially became a Republican in 1962.
Obama was born on Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu. His first name, Barack, means "blessed" in Swahili and was also his Kenyan father's name. His childhood nickname was Barry. He married Michelle Robinson, also a Harvard Law School graduate, who supervised him while he was working as a summer associate at a Chicago law firm. They have two daughters, Malia and Sasha. He loves playing Scrabble.
If Lyndon B. Johnson hadn’t become President after John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, he still would have been a remarkable historical figure because of his career in Congress. Johnson’s first career was as a teacher. As a student at Southwest Texas State Teachers College, Johnson was assigned to a tiny Hispanic school in a deeply impoverished area, where he loved teaching and did very good work.
Harry S. Truman was a war hero. He enlisted in the National Guard and was an artillery commander during World War I. Truman worked at several jobs, including running a sewing supply shop, farming, and clerking at a bank, until he became a county judge in Missouri. When Truman’s political ally, Pendergrast, was convicted of tax evasion in 1939, few people thought Truman stood a chance of getting re-elected in Missouri.
John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy had four children. Kennedy suffered from poor health his entire life and, fearing imminent death, America’s first Catholic president received the sacramental last rites of the church on three occasions. In the months before the United States entered World War II, Kennedy attempted to enlist in the military, but his intestinal and back problems caused him to fail the physical examinations for both the Army’s and Navy’s officer candidate schools.
William Howard Taft was the last president to have facial hear while in office. Between the Lincoln and Taft administrations, all but two commanders-in-chief boasted some sort of face fuzz. But since our 27th president left the White House in 1913, clean-shaven candidates have monopolized the job. Among all of his nicknames, two are "Big Bill" and "Big Lub."
Richard Milhous Nixon's unusual middle name came from his mother's side of his family. When the ancestors of Nixon’s mother moved from Germany to England in the 1600s, they changed their last name from Milhausen to Milhous. Nixon first encountered his future first lady as a leading lady in 1938, when both auditioned for the Whittier Community Players production of “The Dark Tower.”
Of the first five American presidents, Adams was the only non-slaveholder. His predecessor, George Washington, owned over 300 slaves at the time of his death. The two rivals, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both kicked the bucket on July 4, 1826, exactly fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. John Adams did not attend Jefferson's inauguration.
Jimmy Carter supported civil rights, which hurt his early political career in Georgia. After a poor showing in the 1966 governor’s race, Carter adopted a more centrist image and won the election in 1970. He became known as a budget cutter while in office. Carter gave up his military career to save the family peanut farm. As a parent, Carter became involved in local politics when he served on an education board.
Dwight D. Eisenhower's birth name was David Dwight Eisenhower. Although he spent 35 years in the military and served during both World Wars, Eisenhower never saw a single day of active combat. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman originally called the Maryland presidential retreat, which opened in 1938, Shangri-La, after the fictional Himalayan paradise. In a controversial move, Eisenhower renamed it Camp David, after his grandson.
Jefferson loved science, technology, and innovation. One of his favorite devices was a rotating bookstand that could hold five books at once. Also, he loved books. In 1814, the original Library of Congress was attacked by British troops and all the books were burned. Jefferson offered his personal library as a replacement. In 1815, the Library of Congress was restocked — with Jefferson’s 6,487 books.
James Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, had a very close relationship. Their warm family life was shown by his wife and two daughters, Eliza and Maria, accompanying Monroe on nearly all of his official travel, including diplomatic assignments in France and Great Britain. Monroe had a strong interest in the American west and its importance to the growing United States.
Adams was very well educated. The young Adams studied in Paris, Amsterdam, Leyden, and the Hague, earning his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College in 1787. In fact, Adams House, one of the 12 undergraduate dormitories at Harvard, is named for Adams and his famous father, who also went to Harvard. He also became a lawyer without earning a law degree. Rather than earning a degree in law, he took an apprenticeship with Theophilus Parsons to earn his title.
Martin Van Buren resigned as Secretary of State to close issues surrounding him and a minor sex scandal. In terms of lasting impact, Martin Van Buren had a number of nicknames while he was in office. A top one was “Old Kinderhook,” a reference to the village of Van Buren’s birth in upstate New York. The term of endearment was utilized during the 1840 election by his supporters as they formed the OK Club and marched with placards marked OK. So he is responsible for the term OK!
On Valentine’s Day in 1884, Theodore Roosevelt’s mother passed away from typhoid fever. One floor above in the same house, his first wife, Alice, died less than 12 hours later from Bright’s disease and complications from giving birth to the couple’s first child just two days before. After his appointment in 1895, Roosevelt attempted to reform one of America’s most corrupt police departments.
Herbert Hoover became known as "the great humanitarian" during World War I. The Hoovers lived in London at the outset of World War I, and Hoover later commented that the outbreak of war in Europe changed his life. He arranged, in six weeks, for the evacuation of 120,000 Americans trapped in war-torn Europe, and he later became Chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, which raised millions of dollars and provided food, medicine, and supplies for more than 9 million Belgian and French Citizens after Germany invaded.
At the age of 17, James K. Polk had a stone surgically removed from his urinary tract without any anesthesia or antiseptics. The Polk family were such prudes that all music and dancing at Polk’s inaugural ball stopped when they arrived and didn’t resume until they left. He sneaked in a quick baptism as a Methodist one week before his death, which was actually attributable to diarrhea.
Warren G. Harding's parents, George Tryon and Phoebe Elizabeth Dickerson, were both doctors. They originally lived on a farm but decided to go into medical practice as a means of providing their family with a better life. Harding's wife found out that he was involved in a number of extramarital affairs. One was with a close friend of Florence, Carrie Fulton Phillips. Their affair was proved by a number of love letters.
In 1789, both James Monroe and James Madison sought a position in the House of Representatives. Madison decisively won the election. Throughout their campaign, the two got along amicably and, every so often, would accompany each other en route to debates. James Madison suggested that the American government ought to guard its oceanic interests by hiring the Portuguese navy for anti-pirate protection, instead of constructing one of its own.
Although Ulysses S. Grant was always known as “Ulysses” during his youth, Grant’s given name was actually Hiram Ulysses Grant. His middle initial is the result of an error from Ohio Congressman Thomas Hamer, who accidentally wrote the future general’s name as “Ulysses S. Grant” when he nominated him to attend West Point. Grant was notoriously unlucky in business.
Zachary Taylor never attended college, having been taught by a number of tutors. He joined the military and served from 1808-1848, when he became president. Taylor was part of the defense of Fort Harrison in Indiana, during the War of 1812. During the war, he attained the rank of major. After the war, he was soon promoted up to the rank of colonel.
Millard Fillmore got his political start as an Anti-Mason. Fillmore was elected to the New York state legislature in 1828 on the Anti-Masonic ticket, which, as its name suggests, strongly opposed Freemasonry. Fillmore did not have a vice president. Since the Constitution did not originally include a provision for replacing dead or departed vice presidents, the office has been vacant for about 38 of its 225 years.
Franklin Pierce was the fourteenth president of the United States, serving from March 4, 1853, to March 3, 1857. He served as president during a period of growing sectionalism, with the Kansas-Nebraska Act and popular sovereignty. Franklin Pierce was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, on November 23, 1804. His father, Benjamin Pierce, had fought in the American Revolution. He was later elected as governor of the state. Pierce inherited depression and alcoholism from his mother, Anna Kendrick Pierce.
Benjamin Harrison was the grandson of President William Henry Harrison, the 9th president of the United States. Benjamin was seven years old when his grandfather was elected president. Once, over a period of thirty days, Harrison made 140 completely different speeches. Harrison was known by some as the “human iceberg” because he was often very formal and stiff when dealing with people.
James Buchanan was the only president who was a lifelong bachelor. In 1819, 28-year-old Buchanan, then an attorney who had already served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, was engaged to Ann Coleman. Buchanan’s busy schedule kept the two apart for long stretches of time, and rumors swirled that Buchanan was seeing another woman. Needless to say, they never married, and Buchanan never took a wife.
When Andrew Johnson was only three, his father Jacob died. His mother, Mary McDonough Johnson, remarried and later sent him and his brother out as indentured servants to a tailor. The brothers ran away from their bond after two years. Johnson never attended school at all. In fact, he taught himself to read. On May 17, 1827, Johnson married Eliza McCardle, the daughter of a shoemaker. The pair lived in Greeneville, Tennessee.
Gerald Ford was actually born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., on July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska. Ford could have played in the NFL. Ford won a scholarship to the University of Michigan, which he attended from 1931 to 1935. The university’s football team, the Wolverines, won national championships in 1932 and 1933, and in 1934 (his senior year) Ford was named the team’s most valuable player. Oddly, as president he gained a reputation for being a klutz.
Both of Andrew Jackson’s parents, Andrew and Elizabeth, were born in Ireland’s Country Antrim (in present-day Northern Ireland), and in 1765 they set sail with their two sons, Hugh and Robert, from the port town of Carrickfergus for America. Both North Carolina and South Carolina claim to be his birthplace. Most strikingly, Andrew Jackson killed a man in a duel.
Grover Cleveland's real first name was Stephen, not Grover. He used the name Grover as an adult. Cleveland was a teacher at the New York Institute for the Blind in Manhattan before deciding to pursue a law career. Cleveland won the first presidential election by the narrowest of margins. It was a win by just 1,200 votes in his adopted home state of New York that swung the 1884 election.
Rutherford B. Hayes was wounded multiple times during the Civil War. Seven U.S. presidents served in the Civil War, but Hayes was the only one who was wounded in action. Hayes was nearly 40 years old and had no military experience at the start of the conflict—he had spent his life up to that point as a lawyer. He suffered a wounded knee at Pearisburg in 1862 and a gunshot wound in the left arm during the Battle of South Mountain in 1862.
William McKinley was the first president to ride in an automobile while in office. After he was shot, he was transported to the hospital in an electric ambulance. McKinley was the first president to use a telephone to campaign. McKinley’s wife, Ida, disliked the color yellow so much she had all things yellow removed from the White House, including the yellow flowers in the garden.
John Tyler annexed Texas. Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836, so during Tyler's term in office, it was its own independent republic. Tyler pushed hard for the annexation of Texas, and as his term was ending in 1845, the Senate finally approved a joint resolution in favor of annexation, by a slim 27-25 margin. Tyler signed the Texas statehood bill into law on March 1, 1845, three days before the end of his term.
Calvin Coolidge, who lived from 1872 to 1933, was the 30th president of the United States. He made a name for himself first as a lawyer and then as a politician in Massachusetts. Calvin Coolidge was sarcastically nicknamed “Smiley,” due to his quiet personality. Calvin Coolidge's wife helped deaf children with daily activities.
Chester Arthur liked to take friends on late-night walks around Washington, D.C., sometimes as late as three or four in the morning. It was rare for him to be in bed before two o’clock. President Arthur made no Inaugural Address. Arthur briefly served as President Garfield’s Vice President. After Garfield’s death, Arthur became President, leaving the Vice President’s office vacant.
William Henry Harrison turned a Native American "Prophet" into an actual prophet. Harrison served as governor of the Indiana Territory, which consisted of the future states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and eastern Minnesota, from 1801 to 1812. As governor, Harrison spearheaded the acquisition of land that belonged to Native American tribes. Harrison dared the Native leader to "cause the sun to stand still, the moon to alter its course, the rivers to cease to flow, or the dead to rise from their graves." A few weeks later a solar eclipse happened.
James A. Garfield was the last of seven presidents who were born in a log cabin. President Garfield’s mother was the first president’s mother to attend her son’s inauguration. James Garfield is the only president to ever have been a preacher. He was a minister of the Christian Church. Garfield was the first president to campaign in multiple languages - he often spoke in German with German-Americans.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was an only child of very wealthy parents; he grew up on an estate in New York’s Hudson Valley. Franklin was also related to his own wife! Eleanor Roosevelt was Theodore Roosevelt’s fifth cousin once removed. After a brief law career, Franklin entered politics as a Democrat. His famous relative, Teddy, and many other Roosevelts were Republicans.
Woodrow Wilson attended Princeton. After a brief time at Davidson College, Wilson wound up in New Jersey at Princeton, where he graduated 38th in his class of 167 students. Wilson only had a little over two years of political experience when he became President of the United States. After a difficult conclusion to his Princeton career, Wilson won election as New Jersey’s governor in 1910, and just two years later, he was in the White House.