Presidential Fun Facts

We dug up some surprising fun facts about America's past commanders in chief.

Did you know...

George Bush Sr. installed horseshoe pits at the White House and Camp David, holding annual horseshoes tournaments with his staff, groundskeepers, and aides. He always liked challenging visitors, especially foreign heads of state, to a game of horseshoes, making sure that the press was on hand for the match.

Andrew Johnson did not learn to read until he was 17 years old. His parents had been too poor to send him to school.

During Benjamin Harrison's term (1889 -1893) electricity installed in the White House.

Theodore Roosevelt had the West Wing built onto the White House. He moved his office there so he could work in peace and quiet.

Calvin Coolidge had a raccoon named Rebecca who was walked on a leash.

During World War I, Woodrow Wilson kept a herd of sheep on the White House lawn. Their wool helped raise money for the Red Cross.

From 1840 to 1960, every president elected in a year ending in a zero died in office. The "20-year curse" is said to have ended when Ronald Reagan (elected in 1980) survived an attempted assassination.

Zachary Taylor's horse, Whitey, roamed freely on the White House lawn. People would pluck hairs from it for souvenirs.

The first assassination attempt against a president took place on January 30, 1835, when a house painter named Richard Lawrence aimed two pistols at Andrew Jackson. Both guns misfired and Jackson escaped unharmed.

The most common name for a president is James or some variation of it. James Madison, James Monroe, James Polk, James Buchanan, James Garfield, Jimmy Carter.