Why Lincoln grew a beard, and more…

Presidents #39, 42, 43 and 44 having a laugh

While we’re waiting to see who U.S. President #45 is, it’s a good time to review some of the past presidents. This entertaining post from Wait But Why goes through the first 16, with some things we all learned about Presidents #1 (Washington) to #16 (Lincoln) and some things we probably didn’t.

I really liked this:

Books were everything. Many of these early presidents received some or most of their thorough educations from reading books on their own. It’s a reminder of how groundbreaking the invention of the mass-produced book was. Until then, the only way to learn something was through having a human explain it to you in person. The book allowed a hungry learner (which these 16 guys almost all were) to take things into their own hands and absorb the thoughts and knowledge of thousands of other people’s brains.”

Some things I didn’t know:

  • George Washington’s inaugural speech lasted only 90 seconds.
  • Thomas Jefferson’s last words were: “Is it the fourth yet?” (He apparently wanted to make sure he died on July 4th,  America’s Independence Day.)
  • James Madison was only 5’4″ (162 cm.) and weighed only 100 lbs. (45 kg.)
  • John Quincy Adams had a pet alligator that lived in a White House bathtub. He was also the first president to be photographed. That’s one scary looking guy. The alligator makes more sense now.
  • Andrew Jackson really believed that the Earth was flat.
  • Martin van Buren was the first president to be born as an American citizen.
  • Abraham Lincoln was the first president with a beard. An 11-year-old girl apparently wrote him a letter telling him his face looked funny and he should grow a beard, so he did.
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