July 01, 2004

Rerun: Presidential Fun Facts

In the extended entry are the first three Presidential Fun Facts I ever posted.

(They were originally posted at my old site.)

The first is about Andrew Jackson, and the second is about Woodrow Wilson. The third is a story Abraham Lincoln liked to tell about Ethan Allen and George Washington.

Andrew Jackson, President 1829-1837.

In 1806 Andrew Jackson entered a duel with Charles Dickinson.

Dickinson was an expert marksman, while Jackson was neither a quick shot nor an especially good one. Jackson decided not to compete with Dickinson for the first shot, but to take the hit and rely on his willpower to sustain himself until he could aim deliberately and shoot to kill.

On the day of the duel Jackson wore a dark blue frock coat and trousers of the same material. Dickinson got off a shot first, as Jackson had planned.

A witness describes what happened:

A fleck of dust rose from Jackson's coat and his left hand clutched his chest. For an instant he thought himself dying, but, fighting for self-command, slowly he raised his pistol. Dickinson recoiled a step horror-stricken. "My God! Have I missed him?" Overton (Jackson's second) presented his pistol. "Back to the mark, sir!" Dickinson folded his arms. Jackson's spare frame straightened. He aimed...and fired. Dickinson swayed to the ground...(and later died) (Jackson, too, was wounded to the point where his left boot had filled with blood.) Jackson's surgeon found that Dickinson's aim had been perfectly true, but he had judged the position of Jackson's heart by the set of his coat, and Jackson wore his coats loosely on account of the excessive slenderness of his figure.


Woodrow Wilson, President 1915-1921.

President Wilson had a reputation for being a bit on the grumpy, serious side. He wasn't known for being jovial. However, looks can be deceiving...

* The morning of his inauguration, he sang and danced before his wife childishly, "We're going to the White House today; we're going to the White House today!"

* He chased up and down the White House corridors playing tag with his daughter Nellie.

* On nights when he was awakened by the owls hooting in the magnolia tree outside, he went to his bedroom window and hooted right back. The next day he bragged about how he "hooted those hooters away."

* He took great delight in operating the White House's small electric elevator, a functional box made ornamental with panels of mirrors.


Abraham Lincoln told the following anecdote about George Washington, which he attributed to Colonel Ethan Allen, a hero of the American Revolution. During a post-war visit to England, Allen's hosts took great pleasure in ridiculing Americans, particularly George Washington. To irritate Allen they went so far as to hang a picture of Washington in the "Back House" (toilet). Allen announced this was highly appropriate, because "there is nothing that will make an Englishman shit so quick as the sight of General Washington."

Posted by Jennifer at July 1, 2004 09:00 AM