At Tours for Humanity, we love using history to help people. Whether it makes people honor the legacies that people left in the past, shudder at their mistakes, or laugh at the mishaps, we believe that history should always be remembered. This President’s Day, we’re looking back at the presidents of U.S. past for some interesting facts.
1. Have you ever struggled to give a speech? So did Teddy Roosevelt. A man named John Schrank shot the president in the chest right before an important speech in the Milwaukee Auditorium in 1912. Roosevelt delivered his speech as promised, the full ninety minutes, and made it to the hospital in time to save his life. While he lost reelection, the bullet remained in his chest — a reminder that “it takes more than [being shot] to kill a bull moose.”
2. Being president is a tough job, and it’s not unusual to hear stories of alcohol or tobacco consumption while working through difficult times. One president, Grover Cleveland, drank four to eight beers a day at one point.
3. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Having a cold is miserable, and sometimes you’ll do anything to cure it. The day before the inaugural ceremony in 1865, Andrew Johnson was sick from typhoid. Secretary of Senate John W. Forney invited him to a party and offered him whiskey. The next morning, Johnson had more alcohol — to the point where he couldn’t carry out his immediate Vice Presidential duties.
4. Barack Obama is a man of many firsts. He was the first black president, the first sitting president to visit a prison, and the first president to deliver a speech at a mosque while in office. Unlike his vice president, Barack Obama doesn’t like ice cream — perhaps, because he used to work at Baskin-Robbins.
5. William Henry Harrison has many interesting facts: the last British subject to be President, the president with the shortest term, and the president with the longest address at his inauguration. The address was almost two hours, and may have contributed to his early death.
6. Representatives Keith Ellison and Ilhan Omar took their oaths on Qur’ans. Many deemed this as being “un-American,” but one president, Thomas Jefferson, owned a copy of the Qur’an. You can find it in the Library of Congress with the initials “T. J.”
7. Our current president is the richest in U.S. history, but who was the poorest? Historians estimate the answer to be Harry S. Truman, who is worth less than $1 million by our standards today.
8. Presidents see and hear information that many people can’t. The same goes for Jimmy Carter, who famously reported seeing a UFO in 1973.
9. Several U.S. Presidents served military careers before taking office. Dwight D. Eisenhower executed campaigns in both World Wars, and is the only president to have done so.
10. Where did the phrase “only Nixon could go to China” come from? He was the first president to have visited China, along with all 50 U.S. states.
Want to learn more about U.S. Presidents? Join Tours for Humanity on one of our walking tours around D.C., including the National Mall, the Lincoln Assassination, the Tidal Basin, and our three-hour Drinking History tour. We donate a portion of profits to charities fighting ignorance, poverty, and disease. Our walking tours won’t save the world, but they are a step in the right direction.