Some historians and several descendants of John Hanson (1721-1783) claim he was actually the first president of the United States. He was the first president under the Articles of Confederation.
To celebrate Hanson’s and all the U.S. Presidents’ contributions to our great country, we offer these lesser known facts:
James Polk, the 11th president, was the first president to have his photograph taken.
Abraham Lincoln was the first president to ever be photographed at his inauguration. In the photo, he is standing near John Wilkes Booth, his future assassin.
James Garfield was the first president to talk on the phone.
Teddy Roosevelt, who is usually depicted riding a horse, was the first president to ride in a car while in office. Although, William McKinley was the first to ride in a self-propelled vehicle—the electric ambulance that took him to the hospital after he had been shot.
The 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was the first president to ride in an airplane.
The first President to appear on black and white television was Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 30, 1939 at the opening ceremonies at the World’s Fair in New York.
James Earl “Jimmy” Carter (1924) was the first president to be born in a hospital.
James Buchanan was the only president never to marry. Five presidents remarried after the death of their first wives. Two remarried while serving in the White House – Tyler and Wilson. Reagan was the only divorced president.
In June 1886, Grover Cleveland was the first president to be married in the White House. He was also the first president to have a child born in the White House.
Six presidents had no children. Tyler—father of fifteen—had the most. Tyler was 70 when his last child, Pearl, was born. He was also the first president to get married in office, though the eight children from his first wife did not approve of his second wedding and did not attend.
The presidential couple married the longest is Barbara and George H.W. Bush. They just celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary January 6, 2018.
No president has ever been an only child. Barack Obama has no full siblings. He has eight half-siblings – seven of them living – by four other marriages or relationships of his parents.
Nine Presidents never attended college: Washington, Jackson, Van Buren, Taylor, Fillmore, Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Cleveland, and Truman.
There have been eight left-handed presidents: James A. Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Harry S Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
The tallest president was Lincoln at 6’4″; Madison was the shortest president at 5’4″.
The heaviest President was William Howard Taft (1909-13), who sometimes tipped the scales at about 325 pounds during his time in office. After “Big Bill” repeatedly became stuck in the White House bathtub, he ordered a new tub and had it installed. The replacement was big enough to hold four average-sized men.
When Theodore Roosevelt was elected president, the White House was called the President’s Palace, the President’s House, or the Executive Mansion. Roosevelt officially dubbed it the White House in 1901.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to use an armored car. F.D.R. had a car custom built with armor plating for the doors, bullet-proof tires, inch-thick windows, and compartments for pistols and sub-machine guns. Initially called Old 99, in reference to the number on its first license plate, it was later nicknamed the Sunshine Special.
Abraham Lincoln is the only president to receive a patent. In 1849, Lincoln patented a flotation device for the movement of boats in shallow water. The idea was never implemented commercially.
Benjamin Harrison, the 23nd President, was the first President to attend a baseball game. He watched the Cincinnati Reds beat the Washington Senators 7 to 4 on June 6, 1892.
William Taft started the tradition of the Presidential first pitch of baseball season on April 4, 1910, during the opening day game between the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics.
Since Taft’s first pitch, every President but one has opened at least one baseball season during their tenure. Only Jimmy Carter has not.
Abraham Lincoln is the only U.S. president who was also a licensed bartender. He was co-owner of Berry and Lincoln, a saloon in Springfield, Illinois.
Andrew Johnson is the only tailor ever to be president. He wore only suits he made himself.
General and President Dwight David Eisenhower was the only president to serve in both WWI and WWII.
Lincoln Logs are named after Abraham Lincoln and the log cabin where he was born. John Lloyd Wright, son of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, invented them.
Teddy Bears are named after Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. The news reported Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear cub. It, in turn, inspired a toy manufacture to market small, stuffed bears.
Warren G. Harding was obsessed with poker and once bet an entire set of priceless White House china. He lost.
James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other hand simultaneously.
Every member of Teddy Roosevelt’s family owned a pair of stilts, including the first lady.
Woodrow Wilson would paint his golf balls black during the winter so he could continue to play in the snow.
William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy are the only presidents buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Robert Lincoln is the only man in U.S. history known to have witnessed the assassinations of three presidents: his father – Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, and William McKinley. After he saw Leon Czolgosz shoot McKinley, he vowed to never appear in public again with a president.
During his second campaign for the presidency, Teddy Roosevelt was shot by a would-be assassin while giving a speech in Milwaukee. He continued to deliver his speech with the bullet in his chest.
In 1881, a lawyer named Charles Guiteau shot James Garfield in the back with a five-barrel, .44-caliber pistol called a British Bulldog. It was reported he said he chose the gun because it would look good on display in a museum someday. No one knows where the gun is today.