18 facts you didn't know about American presidents - KMSP-TV

18 facts you didn't know about American presidents

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Wikimedia: Anthony Berger Wikimedia: Anthony Berger

In honor of Presidents' Day on Feb. 18, MyFoxBoston.com brings you a list of 18 facts you likely didn't learn about the American presidents in any high school history class. Check out our list of unusual facts:

1.     Gerald Ford's outstanding athleticism

Before his career in politics, Gerald Ford was known for being an unbelievable athlete.  According to History.com, Ford was a football star at the University of Michigan winning two national championships in 1932 and 1933. He was also known as an expert on the slopes with downhill skiing.  

 2.     Ulysses S. Grant's speeding ticket…on a horse!

Think you drive to fast?  According to HuffingtonPost.com, the 18th president got a twenty dollar speeding ticket for riding his horse too fast. 

 3.     William Taft starts "The First Pitch"

It's been known as a tradition with the president throwing the first pitch of the baseball season. According to National Geographic News, President Taft started this traditional sporting event on April 4, 1910 in a game between the Washington Senators against the Philadelphia Athletics.

 4.     Abraham Lincoln is in the Wrestling Hall of Fame

According to History.com, the 16th president was still enshrined into the Wrestling Hall of Fame as an "Outstanding American" for his wrestling talents as a young man.

 5.     Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died within hours of each other

 Once fierce competitors, Adams and Jefferson bonded in their final years. They would write letters to each other up until they died on July 4, 1826.

 6.     Unusual Presidential Pets

Some "pets" that our presidents owned would normally be found at the zoo. According to Huffingtonpost.com, some of these pets included John Quincy Adam's alligator, Teddy Roosevelt's zebra, and Thomas Jefferson's two bear cubs, which he frequently took walks with.

7.     Martin Van Buren is "OK"

The term being "ok" is the most popular phrase in the English language. According to NPR.org, "ok" was first popularized with the reelection campaign for President Van Buren. Given the nickname "Old Kinderhook" for being born in Kinderhook, New York, supporters changed his nickname to just "ok" and would use the name at campaign rallies.

 8.     Richard Nixon's Poker  Skills

While serving in the Navy during World War II, Nixon would cure his boredom while being stationed in the South Pacific by playing poker. According to UsNews.com, Navy officers said he had won between $6,000 to $7,000. Nixon would later on use this money to fund his first political campaign.

9.     George Washington Never Lived in Washington D.C

Being known for helping to establish the nation's capital, the first U.S. President never lived in Washington D.C. During his presidency, Washington was known to commute by boat from Mount Vernon where he lived all the way to Washington.

10.  President Obama's Comic Book Collection

Our current president is quite the comic book collector. According to The Telegraph, Barack Obama has a wide collection of Spiderman and Conan the Barbarian comic books.

11.  William McKinley's presidential war colonel

While serving in the Civil War, President McKinley served under Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes. According to History.com the two would become good friends during the war with Hayes becoming a huge mentor to McKinley. In 1876, the same year McKinley won election in Congress, Hayes was elected the 19th president of the United States.

12.  John Tyler had 15 children

According to the Huffington Post, The 10th president of the United States John Henry fathered eight children with his first wife Letitia, and seven with his second wife Julia. He was 70 years old when his last daughter Pearl was born, making him the most prolific president in history. Tyler was also the first president to get married while serving his presidency.

13.  Andrew Jackson was shot twice in duels

President Jackson was reportedly involved in over 100 duels in his lifetime. According to History.com, Jackson was involved in a duel with a man who accused him of cheating during a horse bet race and then insulted Jackson's wife in 1806. Jackson would kill the man, but not before getting shot in the chest. He was shot again in the arm in another duel in 1813 with a Missouri senator.

14.  William Howard Taft stuck in a bath tub

President Taft was known for being the largest president weighing in at over 325 pounds. According to The Huffington Post, He would often get stuck in the bath tub of the White House because of his massive weight and size of the tub.

15.  William G. Harding gambles off White House china set

Another president that was known for his gambling skills was 29th president William G. Harding. According to The Independent, Harding once gambled off the entire set of White House china dating back to the presidency of Benjamin Harrison and losing it all in one hand.

16.  George H. W. Bush survives plane crash in World War II

Serving as a pilot during World War II, President George H. W.  Bush's aircraft was shot down by Japanese aircrafts. According to History.com, Bush was forced to bail out over the ocean in the Pacific and eventually get rescued by a U.S. submarine crew.  He would fly over 58 combat missions during his time in the war.

17.  James Garfield was ambidextrous

20th president James Garfield was the first president to be left handed. According to The Huffington Post, Garfield could write a sentence in Latin in one hand, and Greek in the other. Very impressive!

18.   Blueberry Jelly Belly created in honor of Ronald Reagan

Reagan loved Jelly Bellies so much that for his 1981 Inauguration, 3 1/2 tons of red, white, and blue jelly beans were shipped into D.C. According to the University of Texas, Jelly Belly had to create the blueberry flavor so that blue jelly beans were present at the event.

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