You can open up any US History book and read about the former Presidents of the United States. Everything has been written down for future generations. What you may not know is that just about every American President has a scandalous secret that hasn’t been included in the history books. Here are 40 scandalous secrets about America’s Presidents that you probably never learned in history class.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson Were Rivals To the End
Adams was the second President, and Jefferson was the third. Their political careers made them good friends, and they corresponded regularly. They also had a rivalry that ended on July 4, 1826, the day they both died. When Adams passed, he muttered, “Thomas Jefferson survives.” He had no idea that Jefferson died just a few hours earlier.
Adams and Jefferson Were Sneaky
While Adams and Jefferson were always in competition, they had a mischievous friendship also. When the two men traveled to Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, they both splintered off a piece of Shakespeare’s chair to bring home as a souvenir.
Franklin Pierce’s Hit and Run
Historians regard Franklin Pierce as one of the country’s worst presidents of all time. While in office, he ran over a woman while riding his horse. The authorities ended up dropping the charges against the President because they didn’t have enough evidence.
Ulysses S. Grant Loved His Cigars Too Much
Ulysses S. Grant led the Union Army to victory during the Civil War before becoming a two-term president. Behind the scenes, he loved to smoke cigars. It is believed that he smoked 20 a day. On July 23, 1885, he died of throat cancer when he was 63-years-old.
William Howard Taft in the White House Bathtub
Based on photos of Taft, he wasn’t a small man. It is believed that the 27th President weighed 325 pounds. During his presidency, he got stuck in his bathtub due to his size. His advisers had to get him out.
James K. Polk Used Booze Instead of Anesthesia For Surgery
Medical care has come a long way since Polk was President during the first half of the 19th century. Before he became the 11th President, he had kidney stones. He was 17 when he got them, and drank brandy to soothe the pain and remained awake during the procedure.
Calvin Coolidge Loved His Morning Head Rub
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, had a reputation for his dry humor. Each morning, he had a very specific request. He would ask one of his aides to massage Vaseline onto his scalp daily while he ate his breakfast.
Andrew Jackson Almost Assassinated His Intended Assassin
Andrew Jackson had a reputation as being a fighter. It is believed that he took part in 100 duels during his life. In 1835, an assassin popped out from behind a column at the White House, and Jackson bludgeoned the man. The two guns that the assassin planned to use both misfired. Jackson saved his own life, and he was 67-years-old at the time.
Jimmy Carter Saw an Alien
After his one term in office, Jimmy Carter won a Nobel Peace Prize. He won the award, even though he claimed to have seen a UFO in 1973. When he claimed to have seen the spaceship, he described it as the darnedest thing he had ever seen.
Truman’s Middle Initial
After his presidency, Harry S. Truman received a lot of criticism, but he was still considered one of the greats. One thing people don’t know is what his middle initial stands for. It doesn’t stand for anything. His parents made his middle name the letter S to honor his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.
John Quincy Adams Believed In a Hollow Earth and Mole People
John Quincy Adams became President in 1825. He had strange beliefs about Earth. He believed it to be a hollow ball with mole people living inside. To prove it, he almost used taxpayer’s money to send explorers into the Earth. Fortunately, the voyage never happened.
James A. Garfield Was Ambidextrous and More
James A. Garfield could write with both hands, which meant that he was ambidextrous. He could also write in Greek and Latin, and since he was ambidextrous, he could write in both languages at the same time.
Abraham Lincoln Could Pour a Drink
Abraham Lincoln did a lot during his presidency, mainly ending slavery. While doing all of this work, he also managed to be a licensed bartender. He was part-owner of an Illinois bar called Berry and Lincoln.
Pierce Earned An Embarrassing Nickname While At War
President Pierce fought in the Mexican-American War. While riding a horse during combat, he injured his groin. The pain was so bad that he passed out, earning him the nickname, Fainting Frank.
The Japanese Invented a New Word To Describe the Behavior of George H.W. Bush
In 1992, President Bush dined with the Japanese Prime Minister. The meal caused the President to vomit in the middle of the meal. After, the locals created the word, Bushusuru, which means, “to do the Bush thing.” What they meant was puking in public.
James Buchanan Broke His Fiancee’s Heart
James Buchanan was a lifelong bachelor, but he was once engaged. Her name was Anne Coleman, and they were supposed to get married during the early 1800s. When Anne heard that James went to visit another woman, she ended the engagement. Shortly after, she died from what doctors called hysterical convulsions. Some people believe that she overdosed on opium that she used to fight insomnia she experienced after losing the love of her life.
Benjamin Harrison Was Afraid To Turn Off the Lights
Benjamin Harrison served one term, and he was the first President to live in the White House when it had electricity. He wasn’t happy about the electricity because he worried that he would get electrocuted. He never touched the light switch.
Millard Fillmore Married His Childhood Schoolteacher
Millard Fillmore was born into poverty, and it was his education that allowed him to get far in life and become the 13th President of the United States. He credited his teacher, Abigail Powers, for some of his success. She was his teacher when he was 19-years-old, and Fillmore married her in 1826.
William McKinley and His Pet Parrot
President William McKinley was a great American leader, but he is often forgotten because he gets lost in Teddy Roosevelt’s shadow. McKinley had a pet parrot named, Washington Post, and the two would whistle Yankee Doodle Dandy for White House guests.
JFK’s Love Triangle
While John F. Kennedy was in the White House, he had an affair with Marilyn Monroe. She caught his eye in 1962 during a dinner held in his honor. The President ended the affair, and Marilyn got involved with the President’s younger brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Grover Cleveland Was an Executioner
Before Grover Cleveland became the 22nd and 24th President, he worked as a New York sheriff in Eerie County. During his two-year term as sheriff, he oversaw two executions, springing the trap that led to both men falling to their death. Because of this, he earned the nickname Buffalo Hangman.
FDR Married His Cousin
Experts rank Franklin Delano Roosevelt as one of the top three Presidents America has ever seen. He led the country during the Great Depression and World War II. Before becoming President, he married his cousin, Eleanor. She already had the same last name, so she didn’t have the change hers when she got married.
George Washington’s Teeth Were Horrible
George Washington was the first President of the United States, and he shaped the nation. He was a great man, but his teeth were terrible. He wore brass screws in his mouth, and his false teeth were made of ivory and springs.
Lincoln Won Close to 300 Wrestling Matches In His Life
Abraham Lincoln wasn’t just the 16th President; he was also a prizefighter. He earned a spot in the Wrestling Hall of Fame and won all but one of the 300 matches he was in.
McKinley’s Good Luck Charm
President McKinley always wore a red carnation on his lapel that he believed to be good luck. The one time he took it off was in 1901, and he gave it to a little girl. Just a few minutes later, he was shot, and he died eight days later.
Carter Admitted To Being Unfaithful In His Mind
Jimmy Carter loved his wife, Rosalyn, but he admits to being unfaithful in his mind. During an interview with Playboy Magazine just days before the election, he said that he looked at women with lust, but only committed adultery in his heart. He never had a real affair.
Gerald Ford Worked As a Model
Many people looked at President Ford as a dorky character. Before becoming the 38th President, he was a model. He didn’t work just small, local jobs. He actually landed the cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Warren G. Harding Loved Poker Too Much
People loved President Harding, but many didn’t know he had a gambling problem. He held weekly poker nights at the White House, and one night, he gambled away an entire set of Presidential china.
George W. Bush Was a Cheerleader
George W. Bush went to school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. There, he served as the captain of the Phillips Academy Cheerleading Squad. The 43rd President had team spirit.
John Quincy Adams Went Skinny Dipping
Even though the White House had plenty of bathrooms, John Quincy Adams chose a different way to bathe. When he woke up in the morning, he would head to the Potomac River to go for a swim naked.
Chester A. Arthur Redecorated With Money He Earned By Selling Antiques
President Arthur redecorated his official residents after selling two wagons full of historical items. One such item was a pair of Lincoln’s trousers.
The Toy Possum
Thanks to the popularity of Teddy Roosevelt, the Teddy Bear was born. When President Taft was in office, and he served possum for the main course, word got out, and a toy manufacturer came out with Billy Possum. It never caught on.
President Harding Had Affairs
President Harding had a scandalous professional and personal life. He had an affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips, who was married to a friend of his wife. Over 80 years after he died, a DNA test confirmed that he also had an affair with Nan Britton, and was the father of her child.
Herbert Hoover Was Mean To the Staff
The White House servants had to be very careful while working in the White House. He didn’t want to see them at all, so if he entered a room, they had to hide.
President Buchanan May Have Had a Relationship With a Man
President Buchanan was engaged, but he broke his fiancee’s heart, and she ended things, then died. He remained a bachelor, but some believe that he was in a relationship with William Rufus King, an Alabama senator. The two men lived together for over ten years and had enough money to live on their own.
FDR Was Afraid Of the Number 13
FDR was one of the greatest presidents, but he one irrational fear. He was so afraid of the number 13 that he wouldn’t attend dinner parties where there would be 13 guests, and he wouldn’t plan a trip on the 13th.
JFK’s Father Didn’t Help Him Get Into Harvard
JFK was an incredible, Harvard-educated president. When JFK applied to Harvard, his father wrote him a recommendation. Unfortunately, he didn’t speak too highly of his son. In the letter, he wrote that Kennedy was “careless and lacks application.”
Ronald Reagan Spoke With An Astrologer
Ronald Reagan relied on his advisers and Congress while he was President. He also consulted regularly with an astrologer named Joan Quigley when he needed guidance.
Rutherford B. Hayes Wasn’t Well-Liked
The electoral college elected president Hayes by just one vote. He lost the popular vote by over a quarter of a million ballots. Because of this, people called him Rutherfraud. They didn’t like him much because he refused to smoke, drink, and gamble. Many called him Granny Hayes.
Barack Obama Was Almost a Pin-Up Model
When President Obama was at Harvard, a club was planning to make an all-male pin-up calendar. The all-female casting committee didn’t choose his application.