Officially, Uncle Sam calls it Washington’s Birthday (according to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968) with its observance mandated for the third Monday in February. But Washington’s actual birthday is February 22, which never falls on the third Monday. Since it’s ridiculous to celebrate George’s birthday before the fact, and since Nancy Lincoln conveniently delivered Abraham on February 12, Americans gloss over this minor inconsistency by splitting the difference and saying the holiday celebrates all presidents. (Much the same way your parents told you, “Every day is Children’s Day.”)
President’s Day has always seemed unfair to me. It’s just not right to lump the Greats (Reagan, FDR and anyone whose face is chiseled on Mount Rushmore) into the same holiday along with the Less Than Greats (Warren G. Harding, Grant, Millard Fillmore and the rest of the gang). But I digress.
President’s Day is the perfect time to revisit little-known facts about five former presidents. These Info Nuggets probably won’t win you big bucks on Jeopardy! But they’re a great way to flaunt your erudition the next time you’re stuck at dinner with the in-laws.
It’s no secret that at a whopping 335 pounds William Howard Taft was our fattest president. But for the first 115 years of its existence Washington, D.C. didn’t have a dairy. So presidents grazed a cow on the South Lawn for their fresh milk, cream and butter.
Taft’s beloved Pauline Wayne became a media sensation. Americans couldn’t get enough about her … including the mix-up that came dangerously close to a trip to the Chicago Stockyards. Click here to read more about 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’s last bovine resident.
Nearly 70 years ago, Truman made one of the White House’s last major changes when he added a balcony to the South Portico. Architects and public alike agreed the Truman Balcony was a big improvement in the mansion’s appearance.
But while he carefully explained the benefits that came from adding it, Harry was equally careful to keep his biggest reason a secret. Learn why he really built it by clicking here.
The first of the Roosevelt cousins got the office after the president before him was killed.
Yet Teddy came within a whisker of being killed himself during the first year of his presidency. Click here to learn about the fatal accident that nearly ended the Square Deal before it began.
Historians are fond of telling us that of Abraham Lincoln’s four children, only son Robert lived to adulthood.
What you rarely hear about are Robert’s three children. The middle child, Abraham Lincoln II, was nicknamed Jack. And you can click here to see why his story was as sad as his famous grandfather’s.
Of the 44 men we’re commemorating this holiday, David Rice Atchison isn’t among them. But some historians (and a good many of my fellow Missourians) think he should be. Was he president for just one day or wasn’t he? Click here to discover his story, then decide for yourself.
I leave you with this parting Info Nugget. The United States isn’t the only country with a President’s Day holiday. If you’re not doing anything this July, you can hop over to Botswana and join the fun there. (Note to calendar: it falls on the 17th this year).
Did you find this enjoyable? Please continue to join me each week, and I invite you to read Tell it Like Tupper and share your review!
Curious about Tell It Like Tupper? Here’s a chance to see for yourself. Take a sneak peek at a couple chapters in this free downloadable excerpt.