Friday, July 30, 2010
--Gerald Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr--named after his father. His parents separated sixteen days after Ford's birth, and Ford was nearly three when his mother remarried and renamed him after his step-father, Gerald Rudolff Ford. Strange.
--Ford is the only U.S. President to not be elected as either President or Vice-President (he became Nixon's VP after Spiro Agnew resigned the position when he pleaded no contest to charges of tax evasion and money laundering, and became President after Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal).
--One of Ford's earliest acts as President was to pardon Richard Nixon for any crimes he might have committed while President, a move which pretty much cost him the election of 1976.
--Ford was the longest-lived U.S. President, his lifespan being 45 days longer than Ronald Reagan's. He was the third-longest-lived Vice President, falling short only of John Nance Garner, 98, and Levi P. Morton, 96. Ford had the second-longest post-presidency (29 years and 11 months) after Herbert Hoover (31 years and 7 months). At 29 months and 11 days, Ford's tenure in office was the least time of any 20th century President.
--Gerald Ford had a pair of tiny, vestigal wings on his back that he worked hard to conceal from others.
Friday, July 23, 2010
--William McKinley was the last Civil War veteran to serve as U.S. President, as well as the last to serve in the 19th century and first for the 20th century.
--Notable achievements: McKinley made gold the base of U.S. currency; declared war on Spain, sank the Spanish fleet and won the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam as a result; convinced Hawaii to join the United States; and whupped William Jennings Bryan in consecutive Presidential elections.
--On September 6th, 1901, while in Buffalo, NY, attending the Pan-American Expo, McKinley was shot twice by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist from Michigan (Czolgosz was so much of an anarchist that no anarchist groups would let him join them, they all thought he was too dangerous). One bullet deflected off McKinley's ribs, making only a superficial wound.
However, the second bullet hit McKinley in the abdomen, passed completely through his stomach, hit his kidney,damaged his pancreas, and lodged somewhere in the muscles of his back.
The doctors, unable to find the bullet, left it in his body and closed up the wound.
An experimental X-ray machine, which might have helped to find the bullet, was on hand at the exhibition, but for reasons that remain unclear it was not used. (In the following days Thomas Edison arranged for an X-ray machine to be delivered all the way from his shop in New Jersey, but it was never used either). While his condition seemed to improve over the next few days, he suddenly worsened and on September 13th he died from infection and gangrene.
--After McKinley's murder, Congress officially charged the Secret Service with the
physical protection of U.S. presidents.
--If you turn off the lights in your bathroom, face the mirror, and then slowly turn in a circle (always clockwise) while repeating the name 'Leon Czolgosz', the shade of William McKinley will appear and pluck your eyeballs out.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Based on an illustration from The Art of Kissing by Hugh Morris, 1936, which includes lessons such as "How to Kiss Girls with Different Sizes of Mouth", the "French 'Soul' Kiss", the "'Vacuum' Kiss", the "'Spiritual' Kiss" and "Electric Kissing Parties".
Sunday, July 18, 2010
--Harrison was the last President born before the Declaration of Independence, the oldest to be elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and the first to die in office.
--The poor guy is best remembered as the President who caught a cold from a combination of a cold, wet day, the lack of a coat and hat, and an inaugural address that continues to be the longest in U.S. history.
However, his first signs of illness apparently occurred three weeks after the address, which would indicate a different cause for his sickness. Different remedies tried on Harrison included opium, castor oil, leeches, and Virginia snakeweed (quick someone, there's an original band name for you, no charge).
--He was only President for 31 days, twelve hours, and 30 minutes, the shortest term of any President to date. His death provoked some debate on how long exactly Vice-Presidential succession was due to last (the Constitution was vague on the finer points of this, until the 25th Amendment was ratified after the death of JFK).
--Before the circumstances of his death, Harrison was best known for the Battle of Tippecanoe (FYI: Tippecanoe is indeed in spellcheck), where he served as Army general against a sneak attack from Tecumseh's American Indian confederacy (Harrison's forces were attempting a preemptive strike before the attack). His slogan during the 1840 election was "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" (his running mate, John Tyler).
--When Governor of the Indiana Territory (which consisted of the future states Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota), Harrison attempted to make slavery legal in U.S. territories, but was defeated by the machinations of President Thomas Jefferson, who didn't want slavery to spread into the Northwest Territory.
--Harrison was broke when he died, so Congress voted to give his wife a Presidential widow's pension, a payment of $25,000, one year of Harrison's salary. This is equivalent to over $500,000 in 2009 dollars. She also received the right to mail letters free of charge, which is kind of a nifty perk, really.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Fun Facts about the 23rd President of the United States:
--Harrison lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland, but carried the Electoral College 233 to 168, probably due to fraudulent balloting in New York and Indiana.
--Harrison's inaugural address was delivered during a rainstorm, and during his speech Grover Cleveland held an umbrella over Harrison's head. Try to imagine such a thing happening these days.
--Benjamin Harrison's grandfather was the 9th President of the U.S., William Henry Harrison.
--Harrison was the first President to have his voice recorded and preserved. He also had electricity installed in the White House for the first time, though he and his wife were afraid to touch the light switches for fear of electrocution.
--After he lost his bid for re-election he married the niece of his deceased first wife, who was twenty-five years his junior.
--Harrison had a pet goat named His Whiskers. This is not a joke.