It’s interesting to me that reality and perception can be such totally different things... a couple of them were pretty funny, in that weird kind of way. The link has references at the end of the article, for where these “facts” came from.
Strangest Facts One Could Find About World’s Most Powerful People
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American presidential weirdness, scandal, and battiness is not a new phenomenon, but one that has been around since the country’s earliest days. Earlier US presidents simply had the good fortune to live in eras when they were not subject to the same intensity of media attention that modern occupants of the Oval Office have to deal with.
Following are some weird, odd, and otherwise lesser known facts about American presidents.
20. John Quincy Adams Believed in Mole People
Like his father, America’s second president John Adams, John Quincy Adams was a brilliant man. Before he became president, John Quincy Adams had been an outstanding diplomat – perhaps America’s best diplomat ever. His accomplishments included a stint as ambassador to Russia, and serving in the delegation that negotiated an end to the War of 1812. JQ Adams also served as Secretary of State, in which capacity he negotiated the acquisition of Florida, and played a key role in drafting the Monroe Doctrine. He also served in both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate, and became one of the early leading opponents of slavery.
However, while clearly an intelligent man, Adams had some blind spots. One such was his belief in the Hollow Earth Theory – a theory considered ludicrous even in his own time. As the name indicates, Hollow Earth posited that our planet was not a solid rock, but more like a ball, with concentric layers separated by empty spaces, that were probably inhabited by people. Adams not only believed in that balderdash, but actually wanted to prove it at the taxpayers’ expense.
19. John Quincy Adams Campaigned on Funding an Expedition to Contact Mole People – and Won
The Hollow Earth craze was kicked off by a charlatan named John Cleves Symmes, Jr. A veteran of the War of 1812, Symmes moved to the frontier, where he reinvented himself as a scientist and became known as the “Newton of the West”. In 1818 the Newton of the West published Symmes Circular No. 1: “I declare the earth is hollow, and habitable within; containing a number of solid concentrick spheres, one within the other, and that it is open at the poles 12 or 16 degrees; I pledge my life in support of this truth, and am ready to explore the hollow, if the world will support and aid me in the undertaking”.
Each concentric circle supposedly contained a subterranean world, all of them heated and illuminated by a sun-like object at the center of the earth. Symmes then hit the lecture circuit, and lobbied the government for an expedition to the poles, where he claimed the openings to the hollow earth’s interior were located. Educated people laughed off the idea, but it was taken seriously enough by many, including John Quincy Adams, who lent his support to the proposed Symmes expedition. Indeed, he promised to do just that during his successful 1824 presidential campaign.
18. The Expedition to the Center of the Earth Came Up for a Congressional Vote
John Quincy Adams, like other believers in the Hollow Earth theory, assumed that the hollow planet’s internal concentric spheres must be inhabited by humans or human like beings: de facto mole men. JQ Adams was interested in the natural resources beneath the earth, and like Symmes, he wanted to establish trade with the hollow earth’s inhabitants. Backed by such heavyweights, Symmes’ expedition actually made it to the agenda of the US House of Representatives and came up for a vote. The proposal was defeated, 56 to 46, meaning that roughly 44% of the country’s Congressmen were willing to spend taxpayer money to try and contact mole people.
The president did not give up, however, and sought to get Congress to reconsider, while doing what he could to gather support and resources for the expedition. However, JQ Adams served only one term, before he lost the 1828 election to Andrew Jackson. The newly elected POTUS promptly canceled the expedition and abandoned his predecessor’s attempts to reach the center of the hollow earth. Which was not surprising: Andrew Jackson believed the earth was flat.
17. You Did Not Want to Get on Andrew Jackson’s Bad Side
Speaking of Andrew Jackson, the man was one of the toughest presidents in the country’s history. Not necessarily a good person: as a general, Jackson had been all too eager to hang his men for disciplinary infractions at the drop of a hat. He was also the only American president to have made his wealth primarily as an active wholesale slave dealer – a career considered disreputable even by many slave owners. However, one thing Jackson was good at was kicking ass and taking names.
Jackson began his ass kicking career during the American Revolution, enlisting in his local militia at age 13. A year later, a 14 year old Jackson defiantly refused to shine a British officer’s shoes, and got slashed with a sword across his face and hand as a result. That left the future president with a burning hatred of the British, and he paid them back in spades at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. There, forces led by Jackson killed, wounded, and captured about 2500 British, while suffering only 300 casualties of their own.
16. Andrew Jackson Was a Dueling Maniac
Andrew Jackson was a prickly cuss, who readily took offense, and would just as soon kill you as look at you. When not leading men into combat or slaughtering Redcoats by the hundreds, Andrew Jackson could often be found out back dueling with somebody who had said the wrong the thing in his presence. Dueling, as in ritually facing off against somebody with loaded pistols, taking aim, and opening fire at a given signal. And not once, or twice, but many, many, many times. The total number of Jackson’s duels is unknown, but estimates range from a low of 13, to over 100.
His most famous duel occurred in 1806, when he got into a tiff with a man named Charles Dickinson. Dickinson was reputed to be the best pistol shot in the country, but that did not thwart Jackson from calling him out. At the duel, Jackson stood stock still, and allowed Dickinson to take the first shot. Dickinson took aim, and put a bullet in Jackson’s chest, wounding but not killing him. Jackson recovered, took aim, and pulled the trigger, but the pistol stopped at half cock. By the rules, that did not count as a shot, so as a a horrified Dickinson waited, Jackson cleared the pistol, then took deliberate aim once more, and fired a shot that mortally wounded his adversary. As to Jackson, he recovered and went on to greater things, but Dickinson’s bullet remained in his chest for another 19 years.
15. Andrew Jackson Once Beat Up a Would-be Assassin Half to Death
By the time he made it to the White House, Andrew Jackson’s reputation as a seriously dangerous dude to tick off had been so well established, that only a nutjob would try to assault him. However, America never had a shortage of nutjobs, and one of them became the first to attempt a presidential assassination by taking a shot at Jackson. Richard Lawrence, a house painter, was in the habit of angrily muttering to himself about Andrew Jackson. On January 30th, 1835, he was seen sitting in his shop, cackling to himself, before suddenly getting up and exiting, with the exclamation: “I’ll be damned if I don’t do it!”
“It” was killing Jackson, which Lawrence tried to do by ambushing the president outside the Capitol building. Lawrence waited behind a pillar, and when Jackson passed by, took a shot at his back. The pistol misfired. Lawrence pulled out a second pistol and tried another shot, only to get another misfire. By then, Jackson had noticed what Lawrence was up to, and was understandably pissed off. Although 67 years old at the time – pretty old by the day’s standards – an enraged Jackson fell upon the the much younger Lawrence, and proceeded to bludgeon him with his cane. The would-be assassin was probably saved from getting beat to death by people in the vicinity, who intervened to restrain the president and hustle Lawrence off into custody.
14. U.S. Grant Was Terrified of Blood
Ulysses S. Grant earned an undeserved reputation during the Civil War as a butcher, who only won by swamping the Confederates with Yankees faster than they could be shot down. In reality, although Grant was a ruthless commander when need be, there was more to him than the caricature of a bull who only knew how to put his head down and charge straight ahead. His 1863 Vicksburg Campaign, for example, was a masterpiece of maneuver warfare, using elaborate demonstrations and diversions to fool the Confederates into letting him cross the Mississippi River unopposed. That was followed by a 17 day whirlwind during which Grant maneuvered his forces inland, captured Jackson, Mississippi, won 5 battles, and placed Vicksburg under a siege that eventually led to its capture.
Ironically, for a man reputed to be a bloody minded butcher, Grant had a major aversion to blood. As in he, would freak out at the sight of the red stuff. Seeing blood made Grant physically ill. Even the hint of blood or red juice on a rare steak was enough to nauseate and get him off his feed. As a result, he would only eat meat that was super well done. As in, cooked black until it was nearly charcoal well done, and there was not even the slightest possibility of his seeing anything red when he cut (or cracked) it open.
13. Gerald Ford Was a Fashion Model
During his time in the White House, Gerald Ford earned a reputation as the biggest doofus to date to ever become US president. He also had the distinction of being the only occupant of the Oval Office to have never won a national election: he had not been elected vice president, but got the job when Nixon selected him to replace a VP who had resigned because of a scandal. Then Ford became president when Nixon, in turn, resigned as a result of another scandal. However, there was a time, in the days before Ford became a running gag on Saturday Night Live, when he was actually cool.
Long before getting into government and politics, Gerald Ford had been a college football star. He played center, linebacker, and long snapper for the University of Michigan Wolverines, when they won the national title back to back in 1932 and 1933. After graduation, he turned down offers to play in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. Instead, Ford went to law school, and helped make ends meet by capitalizing on his good looks, working as a male model. He was good enough to make it on the cover of Cosmopolitan, and eventually went on to become partner in a modeling agency.
12. Gerald Ford Had an Affair With a Communist Spy
Ellen Rometsch was an East German spy, tasked with befriending and reporting back on American politicians. She ended up in Washington, DC, where she got a job as a hostess at a salon organized by Bobby Baker, an LBJ aide, as a private club for male politicians. Rometsch’s tasks included arranging hookers for club members, and going on dates with some of them every now and then. A stunner who looked like Elizabeth Taylor, she was introduced to then-president John F. Kennedy, and reportedly blew him away with her oral sex skills.
Rometsch got around, and Gerald Ford was among her conquests. When JFK was killed, Ford was appointed to the Warren Commission investigating the assassination. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover grew frustrated when the Commission failed to share its findings with him, but he had a workaround: dirt on Ford, because of his affair with Rometsch. So Hoover used that to blackmail Ford into sharing the Commission’s findings. As described by a contemporary: “Hoover had this tape where Jerry Ford was having oral sex with Ellen Rometsch. You know, his wife had a serious drug problem back then… Hoover blackmailed Ford to tell him what they were doing”.
11. Lyndon B. Johnson Loved Bragging About His Johnson
Lyndon Johnson would not have fared well in the #MeToo era. For one thing, he wanted everyone to know that he had a really big penis. For another, he was competitive womanizer, and whenever he heard somebody mention JFK’s numerous affairs, LBJ would bang the table, and boast that he had more women by accident than JFK had ever had on purpose. Today, the sheer number of sexual assault allegations LBJ’s conduct invited would probably force a presidential resignation – at least if we’re talking a TV president, or a Democrat.
Johnson, who nicknamed his penis “Jumbo”, had zero humility when it came to his Johnson. Indeed, long before he became president, LBJ had made himself infamous for creeping people out with his penis, especially in Capitol Hill restrooms. If a colleague entered as Johnson was finishing off at the urinal, LBJ would often swing around, still holding his member, and whirl it around while hooting: “Woo-eee! Have you ever seen something as big as this?!” Johnson would then begin discussing pending legislation, while continuing to brandish and shake his beloved “Jumbo”.
10. LBJ’s Penis Fixation Reached Pathological Levels
Lyndon Johnson seriously skeeved many around him with his pathological fixation on his penis. In what amounted to an alpha male ritual of primacy assertion, LBJ had his aides, both male and female, take dictation standing in the doorway of his office bathroom, while he did his business on the toilet. Even on the floors of the House or Senate, Johnson would extravagantly grab his crotch, frequently reaching through his pocket to better position “Jumbo”, so its outline could show beneath his pants.
LBJ never tired of working his penis size into conversations. E.g.; in recorded phone call with his tailor, Johnson could be heard saying: “Another thing, the crotch, down where your nuts hang – it’s always a little too tight. So when you make them up, gimme an inch that I can let out there”. He also had a special nozzle installed in his White House bathroom, to shoot water at his penis while he showered. When White House staff objected that doing so would require a great deal of plumbing work, Johnson steamrolled over their complaints, telling them: “If I can move 10,000 troops in a day, you can certainly fix the bathroom any way I want it”.
9. Warren G. Harding Also Had a Nickname For His Penis
LBJ was not the only POTUS to give his dong a nickname. Starting in 1899, Warren G. Harding began working his way up the political ladder, from Ohio state senator, to failed Republican nominee for governor, to winner of a 1914 election to the US Senate. Throughout most of his political career, he had carried on an extramarital affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips. As historians would discover from love letters he wrote her, Harding referred to his penis as “private chief of staff”, but more often referred to it as “Jerry”.
In one such letter, Harding wrote to Phillips: “Jerry — you recall Jerry…— came in while I was pondering your notes in glad reflection, and we talked about it…He told me to say that you are the best and darlingest in the world, and if he could have but one wish, it would be to be held in your darling embrace and be thrilled by your pink lips that convey the surpassing rapture of human touch”. The affair lasted for fifteen years, before Harding finally ended it in 1920, while running for president.
8. Warren G. Harding Used the Secret Service as Lookout While He Had Sex in White House Closets
Warren G. Harding’s affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips was relatively ho-hum. The same could not be said about his affair with Nan Britton, who wrote a tell-all book after Harding’s death – The President’s Daughter – in which she alleged that he had fathered an illegitimate daughter upon her. Britton described salacious details that make Trump and Stormy Daniels or Clinton and Monica Lewinsky look tame. Among other things, Warren G. and Nan got it on in White House closets, with Secret Service agents posted as lookouts to turn away intruders.
Nan went on to allege that, after giving birth, the president paid her child support of $500 a month – a considerable sum back then. Understandably, Harding’s family rushed to defend what was left of his reputation, and denied the affair. Painting Nan Britton as a liar, they alleged that the 29th president had been infertile, and so could not have possibly fathered a child upon Nan. Things remained in a he-said-they-said standoff until 2015, when DNA testing conclusively concluded that Nan’s daughter, Elizabeth Ann Bleasing, was, indeed, Harding’s child.
7. Grover Cleveland Groomed a Literal Child Bride
Frances Clara Folsom was the daughter of Oscar Folsom, a lawyer and longtime close friend of Grover Cleveland, who was 27 when Frances was born. Her father died in a carriage racing accident in 1875, and left no will, so Cleveland was appointed by a court to administer his deceased friend’s estate. That brought him in close contact with Frances, and he became her new father figure. Unlike Oscar Folsom, who had been careless of his life and his family, “Uncle Cleve” was dependable, attentive, and doting. At some point, while Frances was growing up, things went from doting to grooming, as Cleveland began sending her flowers, with notes saying “I am waiting for my bride to grow up”.
Frances and those around her thought “Uncle Cleve” was kidding, but as things turned out, he was not. After Cleveland was elected president and while Frances was in college, he sent her a letter proposing marriage, and fretted like a schoolboy while awaiting her reply. She agreed, and on June 2nd, 1886, as the Marine Band was conducted by John Philip Sousa, 21 year old Frances Folsom wed the 49 year old president in the White House’s Blue Room. To date, it is the only time a president was married in the White House or while in office.
6. JFK’s Affair With Marilyn Monroe
JFK was lucky that the media back then was way more discreet than today. In 1962, Marilyn Monroe caught Kennedy’s eye after she made a spectacular entrance at a New York dinner party held in his honor. He was immediately attracted to her, and they hooked up in Palm Springs soon thereafter. However, she took it more seriously than he did, and did little to hide what was going on. Her sultry “Happy Birthday” performance for JFK during a fundraising event in Madison Square Garden – in the presence of his wife, no less – got tongues wagging.
Gossip about the barely concealed affair between the president and the blond bombshell eventually caused Kennedy to back away from Monroe, and end things. To JFK, Monroe was just one among dozens of pretty women he had slept with. To Monroe, JFK was the only president she had slept with, and she was not about to give up that easy. She kept calling the White House, trying to rekindle the affair, until Kennedy sent somebody over to convince her that it was over, and that she needed to stop.
5. The JFK-Monroe-RFK Love Triangle
John F. Kennedy’s affair with Marilyn Monroe was quite salacious in of itself, but its aftermath was even more so. After the president was done with the blond bombshell, he passed her on to his younger brother and the United States’ Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy. RFK had cultivated an image of a devoted husband and happily married man, raising a large and steadily increasing family that would eventually number 11 children. He was viewed as the most family-oriented and straitlaced of the Kennedy brothers, so the contrast between that perception and an affair with the iconic sex symbol was kind of jarring.
Had the affair occurred in our era, Monroe’s unexpected death a few months later would have been nothing short of explosive. The coroner ruled Monroe’s 1962 death a probable suicide via barbiturates, but conspiracy theories abounded, alleging that JFK or RFK had been involved. The sudden death of a former mistress of the president, who then became the mistress of his brother, the Attorney General and the president’s right hand man? That is the kind of chum that gives rise to media feeding frenzies.
4. Grover Cleveland, Date Rapist
In an earlier entry, we saw Grover Cleveland grooming an infant into his eventual bride. However, that might not have been the skeeviest thing Cleveland ever did: he was alleged to have raped and impregnated an acquaintance. It began with a chance street encounter in Buffalo, New York, on the evening of December 15th, 1873. That was when Maria Halpin ran into Cleveland, then a bigshot attorney and former Sheriff of Erie County, which included Buffalo. Cleveland, a stocky six footer who had been courting Halpin for months, invited her to dinner at a restaurant, and she accepted.
After a pleasant meal, Cleveland escorted Halpin back to her boarding house, and there, things got ugly. According to Halpin, Cleveland sexually assaulted her “by use of force and violence and without my consent”. When she threatened to report the rape, the former sheriff threatened her into silence. As her affidavit continued, Cleveland: “told me he was determined to ruin me if it cost him $10,000, if he was hanged by the neck for it. I then and there told him that I never wanted to see him again, and commanded him to leave my room, which he did”.
3. Grover Cleveland Went to Great Lengths to Intimidate and Silence Maria Halpin
A few weeks after she was raped by Grover Cleveland, Maria Halpin discovered that she was pregnant. She gave birth to a baby boy in September of 1874, but when she named Cleveland as the father, he used his power and connections in a bid to silence her. For starters, Cleveland had the child removed from his mother’s care and placed in an orphanage, then he had Halpin committed to a mental asylum. She was quickly released after an evaluation concluded that she was not insane, and had only been sent there in an egregious abuse of power.
Cleveland got away with it. He went on to get elected Mayor of Buffalo, then Governor of New York, before running for president in 1884. News of the scandal and his illegitimate child came out during the presidential campaign, and his opponents attacked him for the contrast between his do-gooder public persona, and his seedy private life. A chant by opponents, mimicking a baby crying “Ma! Ma! Where’s my Pa?!” dogged the Cleveland campaign. He won, however, and his supporters retorted with the counter chant: “Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!”
2. George H. W. Bush’s Affair With Jennifer Fitzgerald
George Herbert Walker Bush was nowhere near JFK’s or LBJ’s levels of reckless womanizing. However, he had a few discrete relationships. His wife Barbara tolerated that, mainly because he was the soul of discretion, never humiliated her, and usually carried on his affairs out of town so as not to jeopardize his marriage. For example, he kept an Italian mistress in an NYC apartment in the 1960s. However, that discretion went out the window when Bush met Jennifer Fitzgerald, a 42 year old pretty blond divorcee.
Fitzgerald worked as a personal assistant to one of Gerald Ford’s aides, and Bush was smitten when he met her. In 1974, Bush was appointed ambassador to China, and he arranged to have Fitzgerald join him there as his secretary. Bush told friends that he chose Fitzgerald to act as a buffer between him and Henry Kissinger’s State Department, but few bought it. As one embassy staffer put it: “I don’t know what skills she brought to the job. She certainly couldn’t type”.
1. Bush’s Affair With Fitzgerald Lasted for Nearly Two Decades
George H.W. Bush term as ambassador to China was brief, and the following year, president Ford asked him to become his CIA Director. Bush accepted, but only on condition that he be allowed to bring Fitzgerald with him to the CIA as his confidential assistant. A memo in Ford’s Presidential Library, dated November 23rd, 1975, states: “Please advise me as soon as you have completed office space arrangements for George Bush and Miss Fitzgerald”. As CIA Director, Bush travelled the world, and took Fitzgerald with him. In the meantime, his wife Barbara sank into a deep depression that brought her to the brink of suicide on multiple occasions.
The affair continued, even as Bush indulged in other dalliances, such as an intense but brief affair with a young photographer during the 1980 presidential campaign. When the Reagan-Bush ticket won in 1980, Fitzgerald was brought along as a member of the vice-presidential staff. Tongues wagged, but Bush was deaf to them, and he kept his mistress by his side during his 8 years as vice president. When he ran for president in 1988, Bush appointed Fitzgerald as his liaison to Congress, and upon winning the election, he made her his chief of protocol. The affair finally ended after The New York Post exposed it during Bush’s failed 1992 reelection campaign.
"Silence is golden when you can't think of a good answer."
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