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Presidential Fun Facts

Did you know that Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States, was a tailor before he was President? Or that one of George Washington's favorite foods was ice cream? These are just two of the interesting facts about past U.S. Presidents National Geographic Kids has collected.

Many Presidents had unusual careers before entering the White House. Jimmy Carter, the 39th President, was a peanut farmer. Ronald Reagan, the 40th President, was a movie actor. And Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, once worked chopping rails for fences.

According to John Riley of the White House Historical Association, Harry Truman was a haberdasher. A haberdasher (HAB-er-dash-er) is someone who deals in men's clothing and accessories, particularly hats.

 

Once in the White House, each President made his mark in different ways. In fact, before Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President, came to office, the White House wasn't even called the White House! People called the building the President's Palace, President's House, and the Executive Mansion. Roosevelt officially named it the White House in 1901.

Theodore Roosevelt wasn't the only President to invent a new expression. Martin Van Buren, the eighth President, is sometimes credited with creating the word "OK." Van Buren was from Kinderhook, New York. During his campaign, Old Kinderhook (O.K.) clubs formed to support the President. Later, "OK" or "okay," came to mean "all right."


There have been many other interesting presidential firsts. James Polk, the 11th President, was the first President to have his photograph taken. Theodore Roosevelt was the first President to ride in a car while in office. His fifth cousin and the 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was the first to ride in an airplane.

What will be the next big presidential first? First to ride in a spaceship?

MORE FACTS

  • At 6 feet, 4 inches (1.9 meters), Abraham Lincoln was the tallest U.S. President.
  • In 1933, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt took a flight over the area between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore with famed aviator Amelia Earhart.
  • The White House's first website made its debut in October of 1994 under the Clinton administration.
  • The 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, was given a $20 speeding ticket for riding his horse and buggy too fast down a Washington, D.C. street.
  • William Henry Harrison, the ninth President, was the only President who studied to be a medical doctor.
  • Millard Fillmore, the 13th President, was the first President to have a stepmother.
  • James Garfield, the 20th President, was the first left-handed President.