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American Presidents

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Facts By The Timeline
Presidential Assassinations
Presidents Who Were Sons Of Presidents
Three Presidents In One Year...Twice!

Facts By The Timeline:

1781:  John Hanson, the first President of the United States?
  • George Washington became President in 1789 and continued to be President through 1797.  However, he was NOT the first President this country ever had.
  • In 1781, while Washington was still off fighting the Revolutionary War, the thirteen colonies joined together under the Articles of Confederation (this preceded the United States Constitution).  John Hanson of Maryland was elected "President of the United States in Congress Assembled."  All that really meant was that he was the chairman of the Congress...and not a President in the way that George Washington and all others to follow would become.
  • Interesting enough, after winning at Yorktown, George Washington himself sent a letter to Hanson, referring to him as "The President of the United States."
1789-1797:  George Washington
  • Swore a lot!  Funny thing, though, he issued an order that forbade swearing in the U.S. Army.
  • He never shook hands with anyone!  He thought it was beneath the dignity of a President.  Instead, he bowed.
  • Washington was a cold man with a hot temper.  One time at Valley Forge, two soldiers outside were arguing outside.  Washington came up to them and knocked their heads together.

1797-1801:  John Adams

1801-1809:  Thomas Jefferson
  • When Thomas Jefferson died in 1826, all of his belongings were sold to pay off his debts.  Jefferson's home, the beautiful Monticello, went to ruin for almost 100 years.  It wasn't until 1923 that restoration on the house was begun.
  • While he was President, Thomas Jefferson did his own grocery shopping.

1809-1817:  James Madison

1817-1825:  James Monroe

1825-1829:  John Quincy Adams

1829-1837:  Andrew Jackson

1837-1841:  Martin Van Buren

1841:  William Henry Harrison

1841-1845:  John Tyler
  • Our tenth President was a poor man after he left the Presidency.  At one point, five years after leaving the White House, Tyler couldn't afford to pay a bill for $1.25.  He had to wait until his crops came in to sell so he could pay it off.
  • He was the first Vice-President to take office because the elected President (Harrison) died.
  • He was the first President to remarry while in office.
  • He was the first President to face a serious threat of impeachment.
  • At the time of this writing (2009), John Tyler is noted for being the President with the most children.  He had eight children with his first wife and seven children with his second wife.  An interesting side-note:  The lifespan of John Tyler's children from the birth of his first to the death of his last was 131 years!

1845-1849:  James K. Polk
  • James K. Polk was the first President for whom the song, "Hail to the Chief" was played.  It was originally an old Scottish song.  Polk was not a big man and he didn't stand out at parties.  He was hardly noticed at his own parties.  It was Mrs. Polk's idea to announce his arrival by having this song played.

1849-1850:  Zachary Taylor
  • The man who would become President did not vote, himself, until he was 62 years old!  He was too busy to vote.  Being a soldier took him from State to State, and he was never in one place long enough to become a registered voter.

1850-1853:  Millard Fillmore

1853-1857:  Franklin Pierce

1857-1861:  James Buchanan

1861-1865:  Abraham Lincoln

1865-1869:  Andrew Johnson
  • Andrew Johnson liked to sew!  In history books, we know him only as the gruff, swearing President that came in after Lincoln's assassination and whose performance was less than well-revered.  Johnson was a wonderful tailor and made his own clothes.  He learned to sew as a child when his parents signed him and his brother on as tailors' helpers.  The boys ran away and, for a while, Andrew had a $10 reward out on him!  A few years later, Andrew Johnson set up his own tailor shop in Greeneville, Tennessee.

1869-1877:  Ulysses S. Grant
  • Grant smoked a lot of cigars, which ultimately led to his death on July 23, 1885.  His last spoken word was "water".
  • He hated making speeches.  In 1868, while running for President, he developed what he thought was the perfect speech and used it on many occasions.  It went like this:  "I rise only to say that I do not intend to say anything.  I thank you for your kind words and your hearty welcome."

1877-1881:  Rutherford B. Hayes

1881:  James A. Garfield

1881-1885:  Chester A. Arthur

1885-1889:  Grover Cleveland

1889-1893:  Benjamin Harrison
  • The White House did not have electricity until 1890, the time of Benjamin Harrison's Presidency.  Electricity was a little-used and little-understood thing at that time.  Harrison and his wife were afraid to turn on the lights!  The servants always had to do it!
1893-1897:  Grover Cleveland

1897-1901:  William McKinley

1901-1909:  Theodore Roosevelt

1909-1913:  William Howard Taft
  • William Howard Taft was the first President to start the tradition of throwing out the first baseball in the first game of the season, way back in 1910.
1913-1921:  Woodrow Wilson
  • Woodrow Wilson's likeness was once featured on the $100,000 bill!  That bill is NOT in circulation today.
1921-1923:  Warren G. Harding

1923-1929:  Calvin Coolidge

1929-1933:  Herbert Hoover
  • When Mr. and Mrs. Hoover did not want the servants to hear what they were saying, they spoke to each other in Chinese.
1933-1945:  Franklin Delano Roosevelt

1945-1953:  Harry S Truman

1953-1961:  Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Eisenhower was the first President to use makeup for TV appearances.
1961-1963:  John F. Kennedy

1963-1969:  Lyndon B. Johnson

1969-1974:  Richard M. Nixon

1974-1977:  Gerald R. Ford
  • Once modeled men's fashions for "Look" magazine.

1977-1981:  Jimmy Carter

1981-1989:  Ronald Reagan

1989-1993:  George Bush

1993-2001:  Bill Clinton

2001-2009:  George W. Bush

2009-?:  Barack Obama

Presidential Assassinations:
  • Although not successful, the first attempt of killing a U.S. President happened in 1835.  The targeted President:  Andrew Jackson.  The would-be assassin:  Richard Lawrence.  What was Lawrence's motivation?  Pure insanity.  He believed he was the King of America and the only way to regain his throne was to kill Andrew Jackson.  He attacked Jackson with two pistols, neither of which were able to fire upon pulling the triggers.  Talk about your close calls!  Unfortunately for Lawrence, he was caught and spent the rest of his life in an insane asylum.
  • Richard Lawrence, would-be killer of Andrew Jackson, was apprehended after Jackson beat him down with a cane.  Lawrence was a house-painter by profession.  It was said that the odds of both of Lawrence's guns misfiring was 1 in 125,000.
  • 1865, Abraham Lincoln.  This was the first successful attempt to assassinate an American President.  Lincoln was our 16th President (not including John Hanson, see Facts By The Timeline).
  • 1881, James Garfield.  This was the second successful attempt to assassinate an American President.  Garfield was our 20th President.
  • 1901, William McKinley.  This was the third successful attempt to assassinate an American President.  McKinley was our 25th President.
  • 1963, John F. Kennedy.  This was the fourth successful attempt to assassinate an American President.  Kennedy was our 35th President.
  • Easily the most remembered of Presidential assassinations are Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.  The similarities of their deaths overshadow those of Garfield and McKinley, who are largely forgotten.

Presidents Who Were Sons Of Presidents:

  • So far, this has only happened twice.  The first time was with John Quincy Adams in 1825 (son of John Adams).  The second time was with George W. Bush in 2001 (son of George Bush).

Three Presidents In One Year...Twice!:

  • It was the year 1841.  Martin Van Buren was finishing up his first and only term.  Then came William Henry Harrison who died after only thirty-one days in office (the shortest U.S. Presidency in history).  Finishing up the year, and until 1845, was John Tyler.
  • This happened again in 1881.  Rutherford B. Hayes finished up his first and only term.  James Garfield stepped in until an assassin's bullet took his life.  Then Chester A. Arthur took over and stayed President up until 1885.