Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about our nation’s leaders but there are some lesser-known facts about their careers and private lives you may not have seen on your history tests. Next Monday is a federal holiday set aside to honor all U.S. Presidents. To celebrate, we thought we’d focus on the four presidents who hailed from Virginia with specific ties to Williamsburg in the 18th century.
- Washington has the distinction of being the only president to be elected unanimously by the Electoral College.
- Washington had one remaining tooth at the time of his inauguration. During his lifetime he wore dentures made of human (some his own), cow, or hippopotamus teeth, ivory, or lead, but he never wore wooden teeth.
- The six white horses in Washington’s stables had their teeth brushed every morning on Washington’s orders.
- Washington was the only president who didn’t live in Washington, D.C. during his presidency. He selected the site for the White House but during his administration, lived in the President’s House in Philadelphia.
- Washington was an avid dog lover. During his lifetime, he kept almost every group of dog recognized today by the American Kennel Club.
- Jefferson was the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C. with a performance from the U.S. Marine Band. He is credited with giving the Marine Band the title “The President’s Own.” Since that time, the band has played for every presidential inaugural.
- Congress purchased approximately 6,000 books from Jefferson’s private library for $23,950 to help start the Library of Congress.
- Thomas Jefferson received a pair of grizzly bears captured during a famous expedition. They were on display in cages before making their way to a museum briefly giving the White House lawn the nickname-the “president’s bear garden.“
- Jefferson served one of his favorites, macaroni and cheese, when entertaining and hosting dinners at the White House.
- Jefferson wrote his own epitaph without mentioning he served as president of the United States. He did however, include his ties to the University of Virginia.
James Madison, Jr.
- Madison graduated from Princeton after just two years and was the youngest member of the Continental Congress.
- The first Inaugural Ball was held the evening after his swearing-in ceremony. It took place at Long’s Hotel and tickets cost $4 each!
- War came closer to Madison than any other president in American History. During the War of 1812, he rode out to the battlefield at Bladensburg, and narrowly avoided capture.
- Standing at just 5 feet, 6 inches and weighing less than 100 pounds, he was one of the shortest and lightest presidents to rule our country.
- His wife, Dolley Madison, was awarded an honorary seat in Congress and invited to become the first private citizen to transmit a message via telegraph.
- Monroe was the first president to ride on a steamboat, a technological wonder of his era.
- At sixteen years old, Monroe attended the college of William and Mary, fought with distinction in the Continental Army, and practiced law in Fredericksburg, VA.
- He was the first president who also served as a U.S. senator.
- In the election of 1820, Monroe received every electoral vote except one. A New Hampshire delegate wanted Washington to be the only president elected unanimously.
- The first daughter of a president to marry in a White House wedding was Maria Hester Monroe.