Things we don’t know about America’s Presidents



A s of February 2019 the United States has had 45 Presidents. I decided recently to memorize the entire 45 in order, starting with George Washington to the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Donald J. Trump. (No this is not political commentary. Just some history. I’m steering clear of politics.)

There are many facts about chief executives of this country, and my column is nowhere near long enough to list them all, but here are some of the more interesting ones:

The Republican Party has fielded the most Presidents—19, beginning with Abraham Lincoln. There have been 16 Democrats, starting with Andrew Jackson. Four were members of the Democratic Republican party, beginning with Thomas Jefferson. Four, beginning with William Henry Harrison, were Whigs. The lone Federalist was John Adams, and one President, George Washington, was not affiliated with any political party.

First President to reside in the White House was John Adams, who earlier was Washington’s Vice President.

In total eight Presidents have died in office, four of natural causes and four by assassination, all succeeded by their elected Vice Presidents. The first President to die in office, William Henry Harrison, died a little more than a month into his Presidency—he became ill after delivering a very lengthy inauguration speech during the bitterly cold winter of 1840-41. His was also the shortest Presidency. One President, Richard Nixon, resigned and was succeeded by the only appointed Vice President, Gerald Ford. All nine Presidents’ uncompleted terms were filled by their Vice Presidents.

Sorting out one-term Presidents from multi-term Presidents isn’t easy because of partial terms, but I counted 21 single-term Presidents and 17 with two or more terms. (Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only President to be elected to more than two— three full terms, but he died early in his fourth term.)

One President, Grover Cleveland, served two non-consecutive terms, with Benjamin Harrison serving the single term between. Most Presidential first names? James, with six—Madison, Monroe, Polk, Buchanan, Garfield and Carter.

Only two Presidents, Andrew Johnson (don’t confuse him with Andrew Jackson) and William J. Clinton, were impeached, neither removed from office.

Today there are four surviving ex-Presidents: James E. Carter, William J. Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama.

Reading and research will reveal more facts about Presidents but take time to discover their contributions as well.

WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.

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