With Presidents’ Day approaching, particularly on the heels of our nation’s recent presidential election, it is timely and apropos to engage your students in classroom discussions and projects about fun presidential facts. From George Washington to Abraham Lincoln—depicted in two 2012 movie releases, one garnering several Academy Award nominations—to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, portrayed in a 2012 movie release starring actor, Bill Murray, you can guide your students as they discover tidbits that make our former leaders not only more relevant, but also identifiable.
There is an abundance of information to explore, but here is a list of more interesting nuggets about past U.S. presidents:
- 1st president (1789–1797); born in Westmorland, Virginia; had seven brothers and sisters; George Washington’s teeth were actually made from elephant and walrus tusks, not wood as is commonly believed.
- 3rd president (1801–1809); born in Shadwell, Virginia; a lawyer and plantation owner; Thomas Jefferson spoke six languages.
- 16th president (1861–1865); born in Hodgenville, Hardin County, Kentucky; Abraham Lincoln was a licensed bartender.
- 17th president (1865–1869); born in Raleigh, North Carolina; had no formal education; Andrew Johnson was a tailor who only wore the suits he made himself.
- 22nd (1885–1889) and 24th president (1893–1897); born in Caldwell, New Jersey; Grover Stephen Cleveland was once a sheriff of Erie County, New York.
- 32nd president (1933–1945); born in Hyde Park, New York; one of his first jobs after college was as a law clerk; Franklin Delano Roosevelt was related by blood or marriage to eleven former presidents.
- 35th president (1961–1963); born in Brookline, Massachusetts; John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the first Boy Scout and Catholic to become president.
- 36th president (1963–1969); born in Johnson City, Texas; Lyndon Baines Johnson was an auto mechanic, and speech teacher and debate coach before becoming president.
- 37th president (1969–1974); born in Yorba Linda, California; worked at a game booth at the Slippery Gulch Rodeo; Richard Milhouse Nixon recommended a play to the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.
- 39th president (1977–1981); born in Plains, Georgia; played basketball in high school and was on the cross-country team at the Naval Academy; James (Jimmy) Earl Carter was the first president born in a hospital.
To learn more fascinating presidential facts to aid your student discussion, or related subject matter projects, the following links are suggested Internet sources: