False Presidential Trivia

Everyone knows Washington DIDN’T cut down a cherry tree etc.

Can anyone name a bit of triva about a president. (The trivia should be well known) that is false.

Do you think we can get something on all the Presidents.

There’s Millard Fillmore’s bathtub.

Abe Lincoln’s death at 8:20 a.m

Calvin Coolidge’s lack of humor. In reality, he was a very fine wit who used his deadpan image to great effect.

The myth that JFK was assassinated by a vast conspiracy (that’ll lead to some discussion here :slight_smile: ).


“Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of American History” by Richard Schenkman (sp?) has a bunch of them. The most surprising to me was that of all the presidents (according to Schenkman), only one would have been considered “dirt poor,” and one other would have been considered “lower middle class.” All the others were at least “middle class” for their time. BTW, those two were respectively Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon (!).

Here’s a bit of First Lady trivia that I heard, but I don’t know if it’s true or not. There was a Trivial Pursuit question, in the original Genus edition, asking how many months pregnant Nancy Davis was when she married Ronald Reagan. I believe the answer was 2 months. I also heard that question was pulled. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

Please fill us in. Thanks

I thought it was Taft’s bathtub. It was custom built to be extra big, 'cause he was really fat. I’ve seem pictures of the six workmen sitting in it.

Or is that not what you’re talking about?

H. L. Mencken wrote a fictitious article on indorr plumbing including the claim that the first bathtub in the whitehouse was installed during Millard Fillmore’s term. His article was later quoted as a reliable source that Millard Fillmore had the first bathtub in the Whitehouse. Mencken wrote to the newspaper(?) that had quoted him out of context, pointing out that it was a joke. That paper continued to re-print the original story, off and on, for years. When he found his “retraction” letter being cited as a source of the informaion in another publication, he tried again. When he found his second exposè of his own hoax being cited as an authority that Fillmore had the first Whitehouse bathtub, he gave up. (Not without some comments on the credulousness of the press, itself.)


George Washington’s wooden teeth.

Honest Abe walking five miles in a blizzard to return a couple of cents.

Abe Lincoln the pious Christian. Also, Lincoln the Perpetual Rail-Splitter. For crissakes, people, he was a lawyer. He didn’tdrop his axe in the field and run to the nearest podium after thinking, “Hey! I wanna be president!”

Although he wasn’t president (thank god!), Dan Quayle was teased [a little] more than he should have for the spelling bee incident with Will Fegeroa.

Although every idiot should know that it’s spelled “potato,” the card he was reading from had it spelled “potatoe.” Even a good speller would have to be damn sure of himself to correct what was given to him as “correct.”

Also, about Abe: all the movies/ documentaries/ commercials depict him delivering the Gettysburg Address in a deep, booming voice.

He actually had a high-pitched shrill voice. Some say this was an advantage, because in the days before microphones, he could be heard better in an outdoor debate.

Anybody have the SD on Dwight Einsenhower starting the “paint-by-numbers” fad?

The story goes: Dwight loved to paint, but couldn’t draw, so he had an artist draw a picture that he would fill in with color. This started the paint-by-numbers fad of the 1950s.

About half of the silly Quayle stories you hear are outright falsehoods. The Latin America one (“I like Latin America because I studied Latin in school”, or something like that) was a joke made up by a Democrat, as I recall, but quickly spread as something he actually said.

This, of course, does not mean that he wasn’t an idiot.

To Dhanson: I mentioned this before in a posting. The bit about Dan Quayle (I hate him * ebecause * I am from Indiana!) actually came from a Bob Hope Christmas special in 1983, talking about Reagan, who was president then. I know. I made a recording of Hope saying this joke. I still have the recording (audio).

Incidentally, according to * There Are Alligators in Our Sewers, * Mencken’s bathtub story was a “red herring.” Mencken was an enemy sympathizer during World War I and concocted the sotry to divert public attention away from his traitorious sentiments.
The first bathroom was installed about 1878, during the administration of Rutherford B. Hayes.

I saw a lot of the so called “Dan Quayle” quotes in a Mad Magazine article a few years ago. The article made it apparent that these were things we could expect Dan Quayle to say.

Oh, and that whole thing about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination being part of conspiracy. Puh-LEEZE. Oh wait. It was part of conspiracy. Never mind!

That’s the whole point about misquotations, Strainger. (See the book * They Never Said It * by Paul F. Boller.) The reason we believe such quotations were made is (as with Voltaire) people think the person * should * have said it.
Thefre’s a disturbing bit of False Presidential Trivita in one book in the * Book of Lists * series. Andrew Jackson is supposed to have been born overses. In 1832 (the opposition not happy with driving his wife Rachel to her death) the Whig opposition to Jackson said he was born outside of the United States and thus “would not have been eligible to the Presidency.” However, this campaing lie notwithstanding, it wouldn’t have mattered. In the Constitutition it says “No person, except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution…” shall be eligible. The Constitution was adopted in June 1789, when Jackson was 22 years old.

Don’t know if I quite got my point across. It was apparent that the writer of the Mad article made up a bunch of goofy quotes that he thought sounded Quaylesque. These made up quotes eventually found their way onto the Internet and numerous email messages.

Got your point.

“Well, the tongue is a fire.” —Letter of James