50 Interesting Facts about US Presidents – Part 3

1Harry S. Truman

President Harry S. Truman was so poor after his presidency that Congress had to enact a law to give him a pension. President Herbert Hoover the only other living ex-president took the pension as well, despite his wealth, to avoid embarrassing Truman.


2. George H.W. Bush ordered emergency airlifts of food and supplies to Somalia in 1992. “Operation Restore Hope,” helped the starving country by protecting food shipments from the warlords. By helping to end the famine, American forces saved around 100,000 lives.


3. John F. Kennedy's brain was removed and stored in the National Archive after his autopsy. The brain was subsequently lost and remains missing to this day.


4. Dwight D. Eisenhower said "The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants...It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals...We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people."


5. Ulysses S. Grant not only created the Department of Justice, but he also supported the Fifteenth Amendment and asked Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1871, allowing him to combat and prosecute the Ku Klux Klan.


6Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt opposed putting the phrase "In God We Trust" on money, not because of secular concerns but because it would be "unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins."


7. Woodrow Wilson is the only president to have a Ph.D. He held a Ph.D. in history and political science.


8. Richard Nixon sent champagne and a note saying "Justice ultimately prevails" to Mark Felt after he was pardoned by Reagan. 30 years later, it was revealed Mark Felt was "Deep Throat" who helped bring the Watergate cover-up to light.


9. John F. Kennedy ordered 1200 Cuban cigars just a day before declaring the Cuban trade embargo. 


10. President Lyndon B. Johnson owned an amphibious car, a car that serves as both a vehicle and a boat. He used it to scare guests by driving them into his lake while screaming that the brakes were malfunctioning.


11Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant provided the defeated and starving Confederate Army with food rations after their surrender in April 1865. Because of this, for the rest of his life, Robert E. Lee "would not tolerate an unkind word about Grant in his presence."


12. In 1981, Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 air traffic controllers after they refused to end their strike and subsequently banned them from federal service for life.


13. Richard Nixon once called in staff to help him open an allergy-pill bottle. It was the childproof type of bottle, with instructions saying “Press down while turning.” The cap had teeth marks on it where Nixon had apparently tried to gnaw it open.


14. In his final days, Lyndon B. Johnson would listen to "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel repeatedly while agonizing over his legacy; worrying that he would only be remembered for the Vietnam War and not as the architect of equal rights and Medicare.


15. Richard Nixon sabotaged Vietnam peace talks to give himself a better chance in the 1968 U.S. Presidential election, prolonging the war by 5 years.


16Eisenhower

In 1919, Eisenhower and the Army tried to drive across the country. They barely made it, so Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System when he became President.


17. President Gerald Ford stood up for civil rights in 1934 by threatening to quit his college football team, unless they let Willis Ward (African American) play against the south’s Georgia Tech. He agreed to play only after Ward asked him to because they couldn’t afford to lose that game.


18. Franklin D. Roosevelt made an agreement with the press that they wouldn't take photos of him walking or getting in and out of cars, so as to avoid publicizing his disability due to polio.


19. Woodrow Wilson personally rejected a proposal put forward by Japan during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference that would have confirmed the racial and ethnic equality of all people.


20. Theodore Roosevelt was the first U.S. President to fly in a plane - and he nearly fell out. He described it as 'the bulliest experience I ever had.'


21William McKinley

In the 1896 U.S. election, William McKinley won despite the fact that he campaigned from the front porch of his home in Ohio while his opponent traveled extensively by railway speaking at over 600 events.


22. US President Benjamin Harrison had electric lights installed in the White House, but would sleep with the lights on because he was too afraid to touch the switches.


23. President Grover Cleveland developed mouth cancer during his second term. Fearing news of this might cause financial panic, he underwent secret surgery on his friend’s yacht off the coast of Long Island, under the cover story of being on a 4-day fishing trip.


24. President Franklin D. Roosevelt thought every American should own an acre of land so that they could be self-sustaining in case of catastrophe.


25. The 20th President of the US, James A. Garfield, contributed an original proof of the Pythagorean Theorem before he became president. He came up with it during a discussion with other members of Congress, and it was published in the New England Journal of Education.

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