gallery Presidential Facts
Happy birthday, George Washington! Test your presidential IQ with 21 of the most burning presidential questions, from the one who died a citizen of another country to the first to be born in a hospital, and more.
AP Photo; Library of Congress Who was the tallest president? Who was the shortest?
Abraham Lincoln: Not just tall in historical stature, but at 6 feet 4 inches also tall in
(and, it turns out, the first bearded president). His ideal one-on-one basketball opponent would have been James Madison, who at 5 feet 4 inches was a full foot shorter than Lincoln and a mere 100 pounds to boot.
AP Photo; Library of Congress Who was the heaviest president? Who was the lightest?
Trust-buster William Taft, the 27th president, is typically reported to have weighed more than 300 pounds. His ideal sumo opponent? You guessed it: flyweight James Madison and his 100 pounds.
Which presidents were related?
In a case of strange presidential kin, 41st President George H.W. Bush is
a distant relation
of Franklin Pierce, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, and, for good measure, Winston Churchill. Of course George H.W. Bush is most closely related to the 43rd president, his son, George W. Bush. They're the second father-son presidential duo in history—the first was John Adams, father of John Quincy Adams, while William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison were grandfather and grandson, respectively. Going to the second-cousin level and beyond yields many presidential relations (Teddy and Franklin were fifth cousins) but perhaps the strangest of all is that
Barack Obama is a distant cousin
of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Talk about an awkward family reunion.
Has any president ever died inside the White House?
Yes, two presidents have died inside the White House: William Henry Harrison, in 1841 from respiratory illness, and Zachary "Old Rough and Ready" Taylor in 1850 of
after, according to the popular story, drinking iced milk and eating cherries (or possibly cucumbers) on a hot Washington day.
Which president is buried in Washington, D.C.?
The only president to raise a flock of sheep on the White House lawn during his presidency, and the first president to have Ph.D., Woodrow Wilson is also the only president buried in Washington, D.C., proper, at the Washington National Cathedral.
Which president was not a citizen of the U.S.A. when he died? Does anyone haunt the White House?
For those who
believe in the supernatural
, yes. Lincoln haunts his eponymous bedroom, Andrew Jackson has been sighted in the Rose Bedroom, William Henry Harrison hangs out in the attic, Abigail Adams folds the laundry, and Dolley Madison gets upset when the White House gardens are altered.
Who was the first president to fly in an airplane?
Well that depends on how the question is asked. The first sitting president to fly in an airplane was FDR in 1943, but Theodore Roosevelt, a year removed from the presidency, flew in a Wright biplane in 1910.
Who was the first president to get a pilot's license?
No wonder a war hero of the first major war to use technologically advanced airplanes is also the first president to hold a pilot's license. Dwight Eisenhower was authorized to fly solo in November 1939.
Who was the first president to appear on television? On radio?
FDR claimed another first when he spoke on television at the World's Fair in New York in April 1939. Warren G. Harding gave a speech during the dedication of the Francis Scott Key memorial in Baltimore that was broadcast on radio station WEAR.
Who was the first president to be born in a hospital?
Health-care debates aside, one might think that with the rise of nearly comprehensive health care in the 20th century, and given the wealthy pedigree from which presidents are usually reared, that the first president born in a hospital might have happened some time ago. Nope. No president had been born in a hospital until Jimmy Carter took office in 1977.
Who was the first president to have electric lights at the White House?
More than a decade after Thomas Edison secured a patent for his electric lamp, Benjamin Harrison showcased electric lighting in the White House in September 1891 during a reception for physicians and surgeons. Nineteen-year-old Ike Hoover, who installed the lights, was
as the White House electrician and worked at the White House for 42 years until he died in 1933 with the title of chief usher.
Who was the first president to have a Christmas tree in the White House?
Also Benjamin Harrison, in 1889. Because this was before electricity was brought to the White House, the tree was adorned with candles. Which presidents lost the popular vote but still became president?
The House of Representatives tossed the presidency John Quincy Adams' way in 1824, even though he
lost the popular and electoral votes
. Rutherford B. Hayes won the electoral college by one vote in 1876, despite losing the popular vote to Samuel J. Tilden. Ditto for Benjamin Harrison over incumbent Grover Cleveland in 1888, though Harrison won the Electoral College by more than 60 votes. Fast forward more than a century to the controversial 2000 race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, in which the Supreme Court ultimately awarded Florida's electoral votes, and the presidency, to Bush, who lost the popular contest by more than half a million votes.
Which presidents have stood trial for impeachment?
Not Richard Nixon—he resigned in 1974 before impeachment proceedings could begin.
Andrew Johnson was impeached
in February 1868, accused by the House of Representatives of violating the
Tenure of Office Act
, but the Senate acquitted him by a single vote. The second president to stand trial for impeachment was Bill Clinton, in late 1998 and early 1999, charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. He also was acquitted.
What virtually unknown man was president for only one day?
None. When James Polk's term ended at noon on March 4, 1849, Zachary Taylor refused to take the oath until the next day, because the 4th was a Sunday, the Sabbath. So who was president during those hours? A senator from Missouri named David Rice Atchison was president pro tempore of the Senate, and ostensibly next in line for succession. He is often considered the 24-hour president, but as the
crack researchers at Snopes.com point out
, among a slew of other evidence, the 30th Congress ended on March 3, with no provision to have the pro tempore title carry over to the next Congress. So on March 4 there was no president pro tempore. Atchison, for the record, spent most of the day napping.
Is it true that George Washington was not the first president of the United States?
Completely. Seven men held the title "President of the United States in Congress Assembled" under the Articles of Confederation, the precursor to the U.S. Constitution. The first president elected to a yearlong term was Maryland merchant John Hanson. The president of the Continental Congress was mostly a ceremonial position. Peyton Randolph of Virginia was the first president of the Continental Congress in 1774, but there was no fixed term of office.
The president lives in the White House, but what about the vice president?
Since 1975 the vice president has lived in a 33-room mansion, painted white, more than 2 1/2 miles northwest of the White House. Called
The Admiral's House
, it was commandeered from the Navy, which had used it to house families of Navy higher-ups.
What president became chief justice after his presidency?
After reaching the pinnacle of the Executive Branch, William Howard Taft wasn't satisfied. Already a respected lawman and jurist, Taft became the 10th chief justice in 1921 and served for nine years.
What is the president's salary?
When George W. Bush took office, the presidential salary was doubled from $200,000 to $400,000, where it stands today. The president also receives a $191,300-a-year pension, but
Bill Clinton was the last president
to receive Secret Service protection for life.