Breaking News

First U.S. Ebola case confirmed September 30, 2014


LookingBack Feb. 14

The time has come, as it does every February, to celebrate President's Day. Here is a look back at bits of information about every U.S. president who has served this great country.

* George Washington owned slaves, whom he freed in his will when he died.

* John Adams offered this prayer: "I pray to heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that hereafter inhabit it. ... May none but the honest and wise men ever rule under this roof." The prayer was later carved in the State Dining Room over the fireplace.

* Thomas Jefferson originated the custom of shaking hands with the president of the United States. Before his term people bowed to the president.

* James Madison was the first president to regularly wear trousers instead of knee breeches.

* In the election of 1820, James Monroe received every electoral vote but one. A New Hampshire delegate wanted George Washington to remain the only president elected unanimously.

* The story goes that John Quincy Adams customarily took a nude early-morning swim in the Potomac River. Anne Royall, the first female U.S. professional journalist, knew of his 5 a.m. swims. After being refused interviews with the president time after time, she went to the river, gathered his clothes and sat on them until she had her interview. Before this, no female had ever interviewed a president.

* Andrew Jackson bought 20 spittoons for the East Room for $12.50 each. Some said it was a great waste of government money while others said it would save the White House rugs.

* Martin Van Buren took $100,000, the sum of his salary as president for four years, in a lump sum at the end of his term.

* William Henry Harrison had the shortest term as president. He served 1 month (31 days). He was the first president to die in office.

* John Tyler had 15 children, the most of any president.

* James Polk fulfilled all his campaign promises. During his administration, Polk acquired California from Mexico, settled the Oregon dispute, lowered tariffs, established a sub-treasury and retired from office after one term.

* Zachary Taylor never lived in one place long enough to register to vote. He voted for the first time when he was 62 years old. Taylor had never voted in a presidential election until he voted for himself in 1848.

* Abigail, wife of Millard Fillmore, arranged for the purchase of the first cooking stove in the White House. The cook couldn't figure out how to work the stove, so the president went to the U.S. Patent Office, read the patent for the stove, and went back to the White House and taught the cook how to use it. Abigail also set up the first White House library and had the first bathtub installed.

* Franklin Pierce gave his 3,319-word inaugural address from memory with absolutely no notes.

* When James Buchanan left the White House, he left a note for his successor, Abraham Lincoln: "My dear sir, if you are as happy on entering the White House as I on leaving, you are a happy man indeed."

* When called two-faced by a political rival, Abraham Lincoln responded, "If I had another face, do you think I'd wear this one?"

* President Andrew Johnson was buried wrapped in a U.S. flag and with his well-worn copy of the Constitution under his head.

* Ulysses S. Grant was arrested for speeding while driving a horse and buggy in Washington, D.C. He had to pay a fine of $20 and walk back to the White House.

* Upon becoming president in 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes immediately banished wine and liquor from the White House.

* James A. Garfield was the first left-handed president.

* Chester A. Arthur was nicknamed "Elegant Arthur" for his fashion sense. He owned 80 pairs of pants.

* Grover Cleveland was drafted during the Civil War but chose to purchase a replacement, a legal option at the time. He paid $150 for a Polish immigrant to serve in his place.

* Benjamin Harrison and his family often went to bed and left all the new electric lights burning because they were afraid to touch the switches. White House staff turned them on and off.

* William McKinley was the first man in his hometown of Niles, Ohio to volunteer when the Civil War broke out.

* While others has visited, Booker T. Washington was the first black man invited to dine at the White House, a guest of Theodore Roosevelt.

* William Taft weighed more than 300 pounds and stood 6'2" tall. Needing a big bathtub, he had a 7-foot long, 41-inch wide tub installed that could accommodate four normal-sized men.

* During World War I, Woodrow Wilson allowed a flock of sheep to be raised on the White House lawn. The wool was used to raise money for the American Red Cross.

* Warren G. Harding, a frequent gambler, once lost all the White House china on one hand of cards.

* Calvin Coolidge eased the burdens of his office by confining himself to four hours of work a day and by taking a nap every afternoon. He generally slept 10 hours each night and refused to talk on the telephone.

* An extremely wealthy man, Herbert Hoover donated all his salary as president to charity.

* Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to have air conditioning in the White House.

* Harry S. Truman considered a career in music but went into politics instead. While in office, he often got up at 5 a.m. to practice the piano for a couple of hours.

* Dwight D. Eisenhower was the only president who served in both World War I and World War II.

* John F. Kennedy was the first Boy Scout to become president.

* After Lyndon Baines Johnson suffered a heart attack, an aide inquired if he should cancel Johnson's order for two suits. His reply was, "Let them go ahead with the blue one. We can use that no matter what happens."

* Richard Nixon was the first president to visit all 50 states.

* Gerald R. Ford once worked as a fashion model. Ford was a model for Cosmopolitan and Look magazines in the 1940s.

* Jimmy Carter was the first president to be born in a hospital.

* Ronald Reagan was the oldest president in history -- he was just shy of his 78th birthday on leaving office.

* George Herbert Walker Bush became the youngest pilot in U.S. Navy history when he was commissioned on June 9, 1943, three days short of his 19th birthday.

* William (Bill) Jefferson Clinton was the first president to be a Rhodes Scholar.

* George W. Bush was the first president to run a marathon (3:44:52).

* Barack Obama worked at Baskin-Robbins as a teenager and, to this day, does not care for ice cream.