Did you know that Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States, was a tailor before he was President? Or that one of George Washington's favorite foods was ice cream? These are just two of the interesting facts about past U.S. Presidents National Geographic Kids has collected.
Many Presidents had unusual careers before entering the White House. Jimmy Carter, the 39th President, was a peanut farmer. Ronald Reagan, the 40th President, was a movie actor. And Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, once worked chopping rails for fences.
According to John Riley of the White House Historical Association, Harry Truman was a haberdasher. A haberdasher (HAB-er-dash-er) is someone who deals in men's clothing and accessories, particularly hats.
Once in the White House, each President made his mark in different ways. In fact, before Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President, came to office, the White House wasn't even called the White House! People called the building the President's Palace, President's House, and the Executive Mansion. Roosevelt officially named it the White House in 1901.
Theodore Roosevelt wasn't the only President to invent a new expression. Martin Van Buren, the eighth President, is sometimes credited with creating the word "OK." Van Buren was from Kinderhook, New York. During his campaign, Old Kinderhook (O.K.) clubs formed to support the President. Later, "OK" or "okay," came to mean "all right."
There have been many other interesting presidential firsts. James Polk, the 11th President, was the first President to have his photograph taken. Theodore Roosevelt was the first President to ride in a car while in office. His fifth cousin and the 32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was the first to ride in an airplane.
What will be the next big presidential first? First to ride in a spaceship?
- At 6 feet, 4 inches (1.9 meters), Abraham Lincoln was the tallest U.S. President.
- William Henry Harrison, the ninth President, was the only president who studied to be a medical doctor.
- Millard Fillmore, the 13th President, was the first President to have a stepmother.
- James Garfield, the 20th President, was the first left-handed President.
In 2007, just in time for Presidents’ Day, the United States Mint is releasing a brand new one-dollar coin that honors U.S. Presidents. It's the first in the Presidential $1 Coin Program, which is modeled after the popular state quarters series.
Four new designs will come out per year, each featuring a different U.S. President. You can start your collection this year with George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.
“Coins are history in our pocket,” said April Stafford, United States Mint education program manager. “To actually hold that coin in your hand and ask, 'Why are we honoring this President?' is a very tangible way for kids to learn about our nation.”
The Presidential $1 Coin Act was signed by President Bush on December 22, 2005. It set out all the rules for when the coins get released and who appears on them. One rule says Presidents who served more than one term get only one coin unless the terms were not consecutive (served one after the other). Can you name the one U.S. President who served two non-consecutive terms? It’s Grover Cleveland, and he’ll get two coins.
The "heads," or obverse, side of the coins will feature an image of the President, his name, the dates he served in office, and which number president he was.
The reverse, or “tails,” side will feature the Statue of Liberty. All current U.S. coins have the word "Liberty" printed on them. But the Mint decided in this case, since the picture of the statue is so big, including the word was not necessary.
Another interesting thing about the $1 coin will be its edge lettering. "E Pluribus Unum," "In God We Trust," and the release year will be written along the side of the coins, which leaves more space on the face for a larger image of the President. Edge lettering has not been used on U.S. coins in more than 70 years. This feature will also help blind and visually impaired people figure out the coin's value more easily.
The U.S. Mint estimates more than 140 million people collect state quarters. They hope as many will begin collecting Presidential $1 coins. But what the U.S. Mint really wants is for people to use them to buy things. “This is another choice that we hope Americans will use when shopping,” says Stafford.