It wasn’t that long ago that America had presidents, individuals elected by the people to lead the nation. It was a fairly successful system of government while it lasted, but it wasn’t perfect. Some presidents were better than others, but just about all of them spoke using big words. If you’d like to learn more about the presidents, you can see them all at Disney World. But if you don’t have time to go to Disney World, here are some fun facts about presidents.
#1: Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding wasn’t often called WGH. Unlike John F Kennedy, who was often called JFK, no one really called Warren G. Harding WGH.
It’s interesting to note that Harding’s middle name is Gamaliel, which is the ancient Hebrew name for G. Harding was perhaps most well known for looking into the future and stealing JFK’s famous line:
Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.
Only Harding tweaked it a bit to cover his tracks and said at the 1916 Republican National Convention:
We must have a citizenship less concerned about what the government can do for it, and more anxious about what it can do for the nation.
Also, Harding’s term was marred by the Teapot Dome scandal, which involved the government leasing private oil reserves to oil companies at low rates without competitive bidding. This scandal, in later years, became known as business as usual.
#2: William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison had the shortest tenure of any president. He died on April 4, 1841, his 30th day in office. He died of a really bad cold that he got on inauguration day, March 4, 1841. It was cold and rainy that day and, speaking outside without a coat, he caught his death. Unfortunately, this was decades before medical advances like using large mallets and shots of whiskey to treat illnesses, so there was little that could be done to cure him.
FDR had fireside chats. In the 1940s, the war was on everyone’s mind — our soldiers were off fighting evil in Germany, people were helping out back home in their communities, and drunks continued to drink with great zeal like it might be their last. These were scary times. To keep the people calm, Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered regular fireside chats.
These chats were a galvanizing experience for people across the land — it was like the American Idol of its day, except people rooted for the Americans to save the world and not Bo Bice to win the singing contest. People would listen to FDR speak on huge wooden radios in front of their fireplace. If they didn’t have a fireplace, they’d start a fire in the middle of the room and listen. If they didn’t have a radio, they still built a fire and pretended to listen. Sometimes houses caught on fire, but if they did, people were sure to pitch in and help put it out. People loved to help one another out in the 1940s — which is why it is often called the Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw.
Of course, that makes all the other generations jealous and mad at Tom Brokaw.
#4: James Madison
James Madison was the shortest president. He was only 5’4″, but people say he looked much bigger in oil paintings. You know what they say, the paintbrush adds 10 pounds. He only weighed 100 pounds. Legend has it that William Howard Taft, the heaviest president, had bowel movements bigger than that, although that has never been confirmed.