Some Presidential facts are nearly universally known. For instance, that Abraham Lincoln grew up in a log cabin. But many more facts are far less well-known. Did you know that Lincoln was also a great wrestler? That Ulysses S. Grant got a speeding ticket riding his horse (twice), or that Benjamin Harrison was afraid of electricity? Here are some others — and they’re a bit more important.
A Letter of Inclusion
In 1790, George Washington wrote a truly ground-breaking letter about religious liberty to the Jewish people of Newport, Rhode Island that is not nearly as well-known as it should be, according to U. Oklahoma Professor Andrew Porwancher.
Jackie in Spanish
When Richard Nixon ran against Kennedy in 1960, he began as the prohibitive favorite against a candidate some considered a political lightweight. But John Kennedy ran a remarkably spirited campaign, which even included ads in Spanish recorded by his wife, Jackie. Professor Allen Pietrobon, from Trinity Washington U., provides details and shows us the campaign ad.
It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Such A Big Deal
Alexander Hamilton originally proposed that the President serve for life – which now sounds as if he was advocating a monarchy. Baruch College Professor Carol Berkin explains the reality: Hamilton didn’t really expect the President to be a particularly powerful office, unlike the Senate and Congress, which would have individuals serving shorter, defined terms.
She Didn’t Want Him to Win
In 1853, Franklin Pierce was nominated as the Democratic Candidate for President on the 49th ballot. The primary reason for that was because while nobody particularly liked him, nobody really disliked him, either. According to Boston University Professor Robert Allison, when he went on to win the general election, his wife Jane was absolutely furious, as she had no interest at all in moving to Washington to be First Lady and felt totally betrayed.
The Press Tried to Keep His Secret
Hunter College Professor Harold Holzer provides another interesting fact about FDR. The attack of Polio he suffered from as a young man left him unable to walk without heavy braces and, often, crutches. But the White House press corps never showed that — not because of any written agreement or presidential directive; simply because they chose not to.
Believe it or Not, He was There
U Texas Professor Jeremi Suri loves to look at historical pictures and analyze them with current knowledge, as those who lived “back then” never could. His favorite is a picture of Abraham Lincoln giving his second inaugural address, with the man who would assassinate him (John Wilkes Booth) clearly visible in the audience.
Very Few Know It Started With Him
Theodore (“Teddy”) Roosevelt is mostly known for his love of the outdoors, but he was actually the first President to articulate a strong foreign policy. “Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention…” SMU Professor Jeff Engel explains what many call The Roosevelt Corollary.
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