46 Enthralling Facts About The Presidents Of The United States

Published May 24, 2024

From George Washington's dentures to James Garfield's agonizing death, learn some captivating presidential facts that even some history buffs don't know.

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46 Enthralling Facts About The Presidents Of The United States
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America's presidents are often remembered for their stories of inspiring heroism or for their tragic failings — the great highs and great lows. But as these facts about U.S. presidents show, there are plenty of gray areas.

American presidents have had weird pets, fallen for strange pranks, and invented peculiar objects. They've died unusual deaths, established new traditions, and acted in bizarre ways. While some presidential facts are fun — like Ronald Reagan's obsession with jelly beans — others are much darker — like how George H.W. Bush narrowly avoided being cannibalized.

In the gallery above, look through some shocking, cool, and downright odd facts about U.S. presidents. And keep reading below to learn about some of the strange stories surrounding these American leaders.

Fun Presidential Facts: Dwight D. Eisenhower And The Squirrels

President Dwight D. Eisenhower is widely known for his heroism during World War II, which helped propel him to two terms in the White House. But Eisenhower also waged a different kind of war: against squirrels.

In 1954, Eisenhower was thrilled when the American Public Golf Association set up a putting green just outside the Oval Office. But the White House grounds were known for their high density of squirrels — and it didn't take long for the little creatures to interfere with Eisenhower's golf game.

Though presidents like Harry S. Truman had tolerated and even encouraged the squirrels' presence by feeding them, Eisenhower couldn't stand them. According to The Washington Post, they stole his golf tees and damaged the putting green. Infuriated, Eisenhower wanted them gone.

Eisenhower Cartoon

Herb Block FoundationA 1955 depiction of Dwight D. Eisenhower's fury over the White House squirrels.

He told his valet John Moaney: "The next time you see one of those squirrels go near my putting green, take a gun and shoot it!"

Neither Moaney nor the Secret Service thought it would be a good idea to shoot squirrels in full view of D.C. tourists. So what to do? It was eventually decided that the animals would be trapped and relocated elsewhere.

Whether or not this happened is a bit unclear. The Washington Post reports that at least one journalist sniffed around and claimed that the squirrels had actually been poisoned. But by the time President Ronald Reagan arrived in office, they were back in full force. Reagan even fed them walnuts.

The story of Eisenhower and the squirrels is a good example of a fun presidential fact — though perhaps not so much fun for the squirrels — but plenty of other facts about U.S. presidents are much darker.

Dark Presidential Facts: The Brutal Death Of William McKinley

American history abounds with grim presidential facts. And some of the most unsettling and most bizarre have to do with presidential deaths.

Take President William McKinley.

In 1901, he traveled to Buffalo, New York, to attend the Pan-American Exposition. While there, McKinley pinned a red carnation to his lapel.

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This had long been something of a tradition with him. According to the Ohio Statehouse, he'd first been given a red carnation in 1876 by his political opponent, Levi Lamborn, as they both ran for a seat in Congress. Lamborn was a horticulturist who grew a special strain of red carnations, and he offered a boutonnière to McKinley before they debated each other.

McKinley won the election, and he came to see red carnations as good luck. He started wearing them on his lapel after he won the presidential election in 1896, and kept the flowers on his desk in the Oval Office.

He was wearing one on September 6, 1901 in Buffalo, when he decided to take off his lucky flower and give it to a little girl in the crowd named Myrtle Ledger. Shortly after giving the flower to Myrtle, McKinley found himself face-to-face with a murderous anarchist named Leon Czolgosz.

William McKinley's Assassination

Public DomainWilliam McKinley was infamously assassinated right after giving away his good luck charm.

Czolgosz had a pistol hidden under a handkerchief in his right hand. When McKinley tried to shake his left hand, Czolgosz shot him two times.

The president died eight days later on September 14th.

Presidential facts like this one are undeniably tragic, but also strangely captivating. Those who are superstitious might even wonder what would have happened if McKinley had kept his lucky flower pinned to his chest.

To learn more facts about American presidents, from the dark to the fun and everything in between, check out the gallery above.

After this look at fascinating facts about U.S. presidents, discover some of the most interesting George Washington facts and Abraham Lincoln facts. Then, check out these Donald Trump quotes you'll have to read to believe.

Gabe Paoletti
Gabe Paoletti is a New York City-based writer and a former Editorial Intern at All That's Interesting. He holds a Bachelor's in English from Fordham University.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
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Paoletti, Gabe. "46 Enthralling Facts About The Presidents Of The United States." AllThatsInteresting.com, May 24, 2024, https://allthatsinteresting.com/us-presidents-facts. Accessed June 14, 2024.