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Facts About the Presidents You Probably Didn’t Know

Little-known facts about our country’s presidents

Memorizing a litany of facts about the presidents during school probably left you without any desire to find out more, but if you do a little research you will discover a plethora of interesting facts that weren’t included in your basic history textbook. Here are some peculiar, funny and nearly unbelievable facts about the former leaders of our country.

Princeton’s first graduate student was a President

President Madison was the first graduate student from Princeton. He showed his academic aptitude by receiving his undergraduate degree in just two years and then continued on for an extra year, completing the prestigious university’s first graduate degree.

A United States President’s Name Was Used for Another Country’s Capital

President James Monroe’s name is forever memorialized as the inspiration for the name of Liberia’s capital. The name Monrovia was chosen in part because Monroe strongly supported the colonization of the country.

The Word “Ok” Has Presidential Origins

Everyone uses the phrase “ok” or “okay”. It has even spread to other countries and been popularized in other languages. The origin of the phrase, however, is much less well known.

“Supposedly, President Van Buren popularized one of the most commonly used phrases to date: ‘OK’, or ‘Okay’, according to the Huffington Post. “Van Buren was from Kinderhook, NY which was also called ‘Old Kinderhook’. His support groups came to be known as "O.K. Clubs" and the term OK came to mean "all right.”

Andrew Jackson Couldn’t Keep Out of Duels

Prior to the presidency, Andrew Jackson participated in more than 100 duels and even took few bullets in order to defend his own honor and the honor of his wife. Famously, a rival named Charles Dickinson wanted the opportunity to duel with Jackson so he insulted Jackson’s wife. When a duel inevitably ensued, Dickinson shot Jackson in the chest, but Jackson remained standing.

“Jackson was a notoriously terrible marksman and he knew if he was to be successful in this duel, he would need to remain calm and possibly take a bullet,” states Dantan Wernecke from “He calculated that if he could be the one to take the second shot, he could better steady his nerves and take careful aim – he could take a better shot than Dickinson had done in haste.”

The strategy worked as Jackson was the only one to survive the duel.

Several Presidents Had Peculiar Pets

William Henry Harrison kept a pet goat at the White House during his short presidency. John Quincy Adams famously housed an alligator and Andrew Jackson had a pet parrot, which wouldn’t be considered unusual except for the fact that someone taught the parrot to swear. Reportedly, the parrot was kicked out of President Jackson’s funeral because of its foul mouth.

If you didn’t know these interesting presidential facts, chances are your friends don’t either, so they are perfect to help break the ice during uncomfortable dinner party silences.


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