Len Robbins: Your presidential history primer for 2020

Len Robbins

If you've noticed a sizable increase in ridiculous lies being wantonly spread on Facebook lately, it's probably because it's an election year.

In fact, next month in Georgia we will be casting ballots in a presidential primary. Other states in our union will be doing the same before or after.

With that in mind, I have catalogued a few presidential facts for your perusal — things that will make no difference whatsoever in how you vote come March, or November. That, of course, will depend on which lies you believe on Facebook.

So, did you know:

• That we had a president named Franklin Pierce?

According to my Presidents of the United States lunchbox, Pierce was the 14th president, serving from 1853 to 1857. His greatest accomplishment as commander-in-chief was putting up the orange drapes in the Lincoln Bedroom (then known as the guest room).

• The only bachelor to occupy the White House was James Buchanan (and, for much of his second term, Bill Clinton).

• The heaviest president was William "The Fridge" Taft, who weighed in somewhere between 300-340 pounds. The lightest was the Barney Fife-ish James Madison, statesmanlike but squirrelly at 100 pounds.

• The youngest president was Theodore Roosevelt, who became the Head Cheese at the age of 42, when President William "Skates" McKinley was assassinated. John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected president at 43. If current Democratic contender Pete Buttigieg should win in November, he would become the youngest at 38.

• Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to call his residence in Washington, D.C., the “White House.” Prior to his term, it had been called the Executive Mansion or the President’s House.

• George W. Bush was the second son of a president to take his father's position.

John Adams, the second president, was the father of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president. President Benjamin Harrison was the grandson of the ninth president, William H. Harrison.

• There have been three presidents impeached: Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and just recently, Donald Trump.

• The term “O.K.” is credited to Martin Van Buren, who was raised in Kinderhook, New York. After he went into politics, Van Buren became known as “Old Kinderhook.” Soon people were using the term O.K. referring to Van Buren and the word “OK” was derived.

• William Henry Harrison served the shortest presidency, dying just 32 days after he was elected. Franklin Roosevelt served the longest — elected to four terms. After his service, the 22nd Amendment ratified in 1951, limited the presidential office to two terms.

• Our presidents have predominantly been lawyers (which explains a lot).

Among the professions of presidents, 27 were attorneys, six were soldiers, six were farmers, four were teachers, four were businessmen, one was a tailor, one was an editor, one was an author and one was an actor.

• Calvin Coolidge refused to use the telephone while in office.

• Franklin Delano Roosevelt was related by either blood or marriage to 11 other presidents: John Adams, John Quincy Adams (duh), Ulysses Grant, William H. Harrison, Benjamin Harrison (duh again), James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Zachary Taylor, Martin Van Buren and George Washington.

• John Quincy Adams customarily took a nude early morning swim in the Potomac River during his presidency.

There really is no need to fabricate information about presidents or presidential candidates — the truth can be strange enough.

Len Robbins is the editor of the Clinch County News.

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