From heroes to womanizers and from intellectuals to dandies, the U.S. presidency is filled with a history of eccentric behaviors and many “firsts.” Many presidents were born in log cabins, and it wasn’t until Jimmy Carter came along that America had its first president who was born in a hospital. Not all presidents are mentioned here, but the list starts with George Washington, the first and only president to win by unanimous vote, and ends with Bill Clinton, a controversial president who still left office with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any U.S. president since World War II.

  1. George WashingtonGeorge Washington cracked walnut shells with his teeth as a youngster, losing all but one tooth before he became president. His teeth were made from anything but wood, including a combination of human teeth, animal teeth, and ivory.
  2. Thomas Jefferson spoke six different languages and assembled a 10,000-book library, which became the foundation for the Library of Congress.
  3. James Madison was the shortest and lightest president at 5’4″ and under 100 lbs. He also was the first president to wear long trousers. All previous presidents wore knee breeches.
  4. James Monroe died on July 4, 1831, following the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on July 4, 1826. In 1820, Monroe was re-elected for a second term as president, receiving all the electoral votes but one, which William Plumer of New Hampshire cast for John Quincy Adams, in order, it is said, so that no one might share with George Washington the honor of a unanimous election.
  5. Andrew JacksonAndrew Jackson was the first president to ride on a railroad train, the first to be born in a log cabin, the first president to be nominated by a political party, and the first president subject to an assassination attempt (he survived).
  6. Martin Van Buren was the first American to become a president. All previous presidents were born on British colonial soil.
  7. William Henry Harrison, who followed Van Buren into the White House, holds the record for the longest inauguration speech in history at 8,578 words within one hour and 40 minutes. Unfortunately, he gave the speech during a snowstorm. One month later he died from pneumonia, making his presidency the shortest on record.
  8. James K. Polk was the 11th president and the first to serve a nation from coast to coast after expanding U.S. borders to the Pacific Ocean. He also issued the first postage stamp.
  9. Millard FillmoreMillard Fillmore, considered one of the top 10 most techno-savvy U.S. presidents, was the first President to have a stove and a bathtub with running water in the White House.
  10. James Buchanan, 15th president who served immediately before the American Civil War, quietly but consistently bought slaves in Washington DC and then set them free in Pennsylvania.
  11. Abraham Lincoln was co-owner of Berry and Lincoln, a saloon in Springfield, Illinois. Berry took out a license for Lincoln and himself in 1833, permitting them to sell spirits, including liquor at 12 cents a pint.
  12. Andrew Johnson was the first president to be impeached. In May, 1868, the Senate voted to acquit him by one vote short of the two-thirds required to convict. It would be another 131 years before another president, Bill Clinton, would be impeached. Both presidents were impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, but acquitted by the Senate.
  13. Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president, smoked at least 20 cigars a day and, after a brilliant war victory, a nation of well wishers sent him more than 10,000 cigars. He later died of throat cancer, making him the first U.S. president to die of cancer.
  14. James GarfieldJames A. Garfield could write with both hands at the same time – in different languages, Latin and Greek. He also was the last president born in a log cabin and the second president to be assassinated.
  15. Chester A. Arthur changed his pants several times a day, and owned 80 pairs of pants. Gore Vidal described Arthur as “the most fastidious and fashionable president.”
  16. Grover Cleveland was the first and only president married in the White House, and he was the first to have a child born in the White House in 1893.
  17. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt once refused to shoot bear, and the story grew to make this bear a bear cub, shivering in fright. The incident was reported in the news, which inspired Morris Michtom to ask for permission from President Theodore Roosevelt to call these toy bears “Teddy’s bears.” Michtom’s store eventually became the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company, which eventually merged with Mattel.
  18. Warren HardingWarren Gamaliel Harding, the 29th president, once gambled away a set of White House china. He also had an affair with Nan Britton, who later claimed she had borne Harding’s child. Speculation about his early and sudden demise included one rumor that his wife was so fed up with his philandering and gambling that she had him murdered.
  19. Herbert Hoover made his most substantial humanitarian efforts after his presidency. His agencies fed famished countries during the Second World War. In 1946, Herbert Hoover led the Famine Emergency Commission. He would study the world’s crisis and prepare a program to deal with it. Hoover organized the food of the world to sustain several hundred million people until the next harvest.
  20. Harry S (S.) Truman raised a controversy regarding his middle initial in 1962, when he stated that the “S” did not stand for any name. While some authors do not use it today, they must still use it when citing the names of organizations that employ the period in their legal titles (e.g. Harry S. Truman Library).
  21. John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected president, the first Catholic president, and remains a hot topic among news publications that seek to resolve his assassination in Texas and the number of women he slept with.
  22. Gerald R. Ford held his daughter’s high school prom in the White House in 1975. That daughter, Susan, also served as official White House hostess when her mother was hospitalized for breast cancer.
  23. Jimmy CarterJimmy Carter was the first president born in a hospital. The oldest of four children, Carter’s family was unusual and often in the news. One sister rode motorcycles and had a son in jail; another sister was an evangelist; his only brother was an infamous peanut farmer and beer drinker. Both of Carter’s parents and all three siblings died from pancreatic cancer.
  24. George H. W. Bush was awarded an honorary knighthood (GCB) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993. He was the third American president to receive the honor, the others being Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.
  25. Bill Clinton narrowly escaped a 1996 assassination attempt in the Philippines by terrorists working for Osama bin Laden. His motorcade was re-routed and the US agents later discovered a bomb planted under the bridge in the original route.

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