bill-swift - February 22, 2012
Today is President's Day, in which we commemorate the birthdays of arguably our two greatest presidents, George Washington and Abe Lincoln. But we should take some time to celebrate all 44 men who've been elevated to the highest office in the land. One of the great (frightening) things about democracy is that, in theory, anyone can be president. While very few people would dispute the greatness of men like Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt, we've also had some pretty weird dudes leading our nation.
Unlike a monarchy, where you roll the genetic dice and hope for the best, we pick our leaders. Every four years we collectively say, "Hey, some guy! Want to have the power to wipe out all life on Earth? Cool. Here's a free white mansion." So, to honor our past chief execs, here are 5 facts you may not have known about our past presidents.
John Quincy Adams Liked To Skinny Dip
John Quincy was born into America's most famous first family. He was the son of John and Abigail Adams and grew up during the revolution. When his time came to be president in the 1820's, he had a peculiar morning ritual. Every morning he would awake before dawn and go skinny dipping in the Potomac. He did this even in winter when the river's temperatures can be well below freezing. He believed it stimulated the blood flow to his brain and got him ready for the day. Imagine if every morning people driving into D.C. could catch a glimpse of Barack in his birthday suit coming out of the river.
Andrew Jackson Killed A Dude In A Duel
Andrew Jackson was a son-of-a-bitch. Not only did he commit genocide against the Native Americans, increase the reach of slavery, and rule as a near dictator, he also liked to fight duels. He fought something like 20 duels, mostly because of his wife. He married her before she was divorced from her first husband, so she was kind of a bigamist for a while. People would bring this up and ol' Andy would shoot them. This is what happened to Charles Dickinson. He accused Jackson of cheating on a horse race and then proceeded to insult Jackson's wife. So, Jackson challenged him to a duel and ended up killing Dickinson. He wasn't ever charged with the murder.
Abraham Lincoln had Nice Thighs
A few years ago, there was a flurry of books speculating on whether or not honest Abe was a homosexual. Chances are that he wasn't. Back then, men would use language when talking to other men that strikes us today as gay, but was totally hetero back then. Also, it was not uncommon for men to share beds. One of Abe's bed mates was a guy named Billy Greene, who worked with him in New Salem, IL. He said of Lincoln, "His thighs were as perfect as a human being could be." Lincoln's wife Mary Todd also made mention of his, "Manly well muscled legs." I guess all that rail splitting is good for the quads.
Thomas Jefferson Invented Mac and Cheese
In addition to writing the Declaration of Independence, being our third president, and presiding over the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson was also an inventor. The lazy susan, the swiveling desk chair, an early copier, and several other inventions were all patented by him over his lifetime. But Jefferson's greatest contribution to the world was his invention of Mac and Cheese. Back in the early 19th century, Americans didn't eat Italian food. Jefferson encountered noodles while working as America's ambassador to France. He brought pasta back to the U.S. and even invented a machine to press noodles into particular shapes. While he was president, he served a dish at White House functions that combined these noodles with sharp yellow American cheese thus inventing the thing you lived off of in college.
Lyndon Johnson's Love Of Fresca
People don't think about the pineapple flavored soda Fresca much. That's probably because it's kind of gross. But LBJ LOVED him some Fresca. He had a special soda fountain installed in the Oval Office that pumped Fresca in from the kitchens. He also had a small vending machine in the bathroom so he could grab an icy Fresca while on the can, (he would also sometimes hold cabinet meetings while on the toilet so it makes sense). Fresca was so honored by his endorsement, that they gave him free Fresca for life. It's good to be the pres.
Article By Jack Tomas
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