Trivial Presidential Trivia

The life of an untenured professor is a busy one, not to mention rarely free from the relentless pressure that you should be doing something “productive” with your time.  For this Chicano, that means doing things other than updating this lovely blog.

So, to find a little balance in my work life, I thought I’d offer up a little something that might make your day a little more interesting, something that doesn’t take up too much of my time in the process.  The result: Presidential Trivia! Ever since I was a little chicanito in the 80s, I’ve been a fan of trivial factoids related to the US Presidency, one of the many tendencies in my early life foreshadowing my present life as a historian.

So enjoy!


  • Only two US Presidents took their oath on something other than a Bible.
  • John Quincy Adams tooks his oath on a stack of US laws, out of his love for the rule of the same.
  • Franklin Pierce refused a Bible for his oath, stuck, as he was, in a spiritual crisis after the death of his 12 year-old son (post-election).  Pierce also opted not to “swear” to “faithfully execute” his office but instead chose to “affirm.”  He is the only one to have made such a choice.
  • Llyod Bentsen got 1 electoral vote for Prez in 1988, from West VA elector Margaret Leach (she was protesting the Electoral College system). He is the last person to receive an electoral vote who was not one of either of the two major parties nominee for President. Of course, he was the Democratic nominee for VP that year.
  • JFK was the first President elected with a 50 state electoral map.
  • The first nationally televised presidential debates were the ones between JFK and Nixon in1960. Nixon was widely considered to have flopped, and he learned his lesson. The second debate contest to be televised didn’t happen until 1976, when Carter debated incumbent Ford.
  • Jimmy Carter was the first US President to be born in a hospital.
  • Among his many jobs, Lincoln is the only US President to have served as a Postmaster (New Salem, IL, from 1833-37).
  • John Tyler–who served only one term as president, from 1841-45–didn’t retire quietly. He served in the Confederate Congress from 1861-62 making him the only US president to serve in the Confederate Government.
  • James K. Polk holds the record for shortest term as a “former US President.” He died 3 months after leaving office.
  • At least 3 US Presidents killed Latin Americans in Latin America (by their own hand): Zachary Taylor (General in during the US-Mexico War); Ulysses S. Grant (soldier during the US-Mexico War); and Teddy Roosevelt (who left his position as Secretary of the Navy to go fight in the Spanish-American War in Puerto Rico).
  • Lyndon B. Johnson was the first US President to say the words “Mexican American” in public remarks as president.
  • Two US Presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998). The Senate acquitted both.
  • With a tenure of 32 days, William Henry Harrison holds the record for shortest time in office.
  • At upwards of 360 pounds, William Howard Taft was the fattest president in US history.
  • Only one president was a bachelor when elected: James Buchanan.
  • 8 US presidents died in office. 3 of those were assassinated.
  • The last president born in the 1800s was Dwight D. Eisenhower (born 1890).
  • Herbert Hoover set the Presidential record for living the most years after leaving office: just over 31 years 7 months. This record has a chance of being beat in a two years. Carter will beat Hoover if he makes it to 2012 (he’ll be 88 years old if he does). George H.W. Bush tops Hoover in 2024 (if he makes it to 100). Bill Clinton in 2032 ( when he’ll be 86). And George W. Bush has to wait until 2040 (when he’ll be 94).

3 thoughts on “Trivial Presidential Trivia

  1. Dude, I just found out that they are putting all the dead presidents on dollar coins like they did with the state quarters. Who knew? Maybe I should stop using Colbert highlights as my only news source.

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