In honor of President’s day, here are some fantastic Presidential factoids I’ll bet you didn’t know!
George Washington was famous for having wooden teeth, but he was one of four Presidents with wooden dentures. James Monroe, William Henry Harrison and Richard Nixon all had wooden false teeth, though Nixon had his teeth pulled to give his face a more natural look, and insisted on using his great-grandfather’s dentures, which had been passed down for generations.
Rutherford B. Hayes was such the glad-handing politician that his name became synonymous with a warm, phony greeting. Thomas Nast’s diary recounted of one of the pols of his day “He did enter the room and made his Hayes to all in the room,” in a frequent use of this turn of phrase. Soon the singularized “haye” became another form of hello, going through various spellings until it became the modern “hey!” The expression “Hay is for horses,” shares a similar origin, starting with rumors started by Democratic leaning journalists that Hayes engaged in bestiality.
In his post-presidency, Teddy Roosevelt was giving a lecture in Georgia when an angry Cherokee Indian threw an axe, which lodged itself in the former President’s skull. Deeming the wound to be non-fatal, Roosevelt continued his two-hour lecture with blood streaming down his face. The axe proved too deeply imbedded in Teddy’s head, and could not be removed. Roosevelt spent the remaining three years of his life with an axe-head jutting from his forehead.
Thomas Jefferson devoted much of his retirement pursuing the invention of a time machine using the latest in electrical knowledge. His “Time Reconfiguration Booth” managed to make small animals disappear, and Jefferson speculated that they were traveling backwards in time. Jefferson was encouraged to build a man-sized version of his prototype, but became distracted with the idea of a swivel chair. Physicists who studied his failed invention agree that with some tinkering, it could have been a pretty effective proton laser, a weapon that would have propelled The United States into the cutting edge of weaponry a century earlier than it did.
While he ran several times and was a major politician of his day, Millard Filmore was never actually President of the United States. The persistent misconception that he was President was started by pro-Filmore biographers and persists to this day, much to the chagrin of history teachers and is the bane of many lazy researchers.
Most people think George W. Bush was the biggest asshole to ever con the American people into making him their leader, but it turns out James K. Polk was an even bigger turd of a man.
Happy President’s Day!