Presidential Trivia: Shortest, Oldest, Fattest, Etc


Find out why President Taft needed a special bathtub, what records might be broken by Obama or McCain, and which president was not a U. S. citizen when he died.

Barack Obama would become the first president with half African-American ancestry. McCain would be the oldest president, edging out Ronald Reagan by three years

Here’s fodder for people interested in presidential trivia and gee-whiz facts:

  • Abraham Lincoln was tallest, James Madison the shortest.
  • William Taft was heaviest (more than 300 lbs); James Madison, lightest (about 100 lbs).
  • John Tyler died in his native Virginia as a citizen of the Southern Confederacy.
  • Eight died in office, William Harrison (pneumonia), Zachary Taylor (food poisoning or cholera), Warren Harding (heart attack or stroke), Franklin Roosevelt (cerebral hemorrhage) and John Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley and James Garfield by assassination.
  • Warren Harding was the first to give a radio speech (1922).
  • Franklin Roosevelt was first to fly in an airplane while in office (1943); Teddy Roosevelt was first former president to fly (1910).
  • Dwight Eisenhower was first to get a pilot’s license (1939).
  • Franklin Roosevelt was first to appear on television in 1939 at the World’s Fair opening, but Harry Truman was first to give an address from the White House (1947).
  • Woodrow Wilson is the only president buried in Washington, D.C.
  • Jimmy Carter was the first president born in a hospital.
  • Andrew Jackson, wounded in an 1806 duel with Charles Dickenson, lived the next 31 years with a bullet in his chest.
  • Do you know about recent presidents Leslie King and William Blythe? When their mothers remarried and they were adopted by stepfathers, King became Gerald R. Ford and Blythe became William J. Clinton.
  • Presidents Garfield, Hoover, Truman, Ford, Reagan, Bush (the elder) and Clinton were left-handed.
  • James Garfield could write Greek with one hand and Latin with the other.
  • It is claimed William Harrison and Abigail Adams are ghosts haunting the White House.

Harrison Afraid of Electric Lights

Here’s a strange one: The first president to have electric lights in the White House was Benjamin Harrison (1891). Fascinated, but afraid, First Lady Caroline wouldn’t turn the lights on or off for fear of being shocked. President Harrison asked Irwin “Ike” Hoover, the electrician who installed the lights, fixtures and wiring, to stay on and operate them. Hoover worked 45 years at the White House, eventually becoming chief usher.

The first White House Christmas tree also went up during Harrison’s presidency (1889). It was lit with candles.

Who Was First U.S. President?

Is it true that George Washington was not the firsU. S. President? Yes, say most authorities, but some say no, depending on how the wording and the country’s form of government are understood.

These seven presidents before George Washington were “presidents under the Articles of Confederation” and had the official title of “President of the United States in Congress Assembled.”

The first was John Hanson (1781-82), and the next six presidents were Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788).

There were actually 16 presidents of the Continental Congress, but John Hanson, the ninth, was the first to serve as president under the Articles of Confederation and the first to hold the title “President of the United States.”