It was Presidents’ Day this week (the third Monday in February). The holiday was initially to celebrate George Washington’s February birthday, but later included Abraham Lincoln’s February birthday. It is an official holiday in most states and states officially recognise either Washington or Lincoln, or a combination of multiple presidents. The day has also become well known for many retailers, especially car dealerships, hosting Presidents’ Day sales. Despite the newer retail traditions, many locations still celebrate various presidents. Alexandria, Virginia – George Washington’s birthplace, celebrates all during the month of February. This year there was a parade, cherry-themed food and drink recipe competition, 18th century dance lessons and a banquet and ball (to put into practice those 18th century dance moves!).
In honour of this holiday, here are some interesting facts about a few US presidents:
- The capital of Liberia was named after James Monroe (in office 1817-1825)
- Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) taught his parrot to curse and the bird had to be removed from his funeral because it wouldn’t stop swearing!
- Franklin Pierce (1853-1857) installed the first central-heating system and the first bathroom with hot and cold water in the White House.
- Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) was given a speeding ticket for driving his horse and buggy too fast in Washington D.C.
- Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897), the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, discovered a cancerous growth on the roof of his mouth in the middle of the economic crisis of 1893. So that his illness would not add to the panic, he and doctors snuck aboard a friend’s pleasure boat and removed the growth. Part of his jaw was replaced with an artificial jaw made of vulcanised rubber. The public thought he was on a fishing trip and never knew the truth until 1917.
- William Howard Taft was both President (1909-1913) and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1921-1930), the only person to head both the Executive and Judicial Branches of government.
- Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) and his family lived in China prior to his election and spoke Mandarin. He and his wife would speak Mandarin around the White House when they didn’t want others understanding them.
Want to learn more? Check out these biographies and histories of some US Presidents: