Generally, former US presidents have their lives portrayed in stoic black and white in the pages of your history textbook. You may feel like you know these people out of reading and rereading for your pop quizzes, but there are also quite a few facts that your teacher probably left out.
1. Teddy Bears are named after Theodore Roosevelt.
Former President Theodore Roosevelt took a hunting trip In Mississippi back in 1902. They hunted for three days. By then, all of the President’s party had spotted bears, save for Roosevelt himself. Not wanting word to get out that the President’s bear hunt was a failure, hunt guides tracked an old black bear and tied it to a willow tree for Roosevelt to shoot. However, Roosevelt refused to shoot such a helpless animal.
News about the President’s mercy spread like wildfire. Cartoons were drawn of the former president sparing the bear, until it reached a certain candy-maker who had the idea of putting stuffed bears on his shop window, calling them “Teddy’s Bears.” The candy makers idea was widely accepted by the public, until he mass produced the said bears, leading to the popularity of “Teddy Bears.”
Even though Roosevelt’s successor, William Howard Taft, attempted to wipe out Teddy Bears with his own stuffed animal “Billy Possum,” the teddy bear and its heartwarming story still stand the test of time.
2. Abraham Lincoln almost dueled someone with a broadsword.
James Shields, a political rival of Lincoln’s, instituted a policy that prohibited people from paying taxes and debts on paper money. Lincoln was strongly against the policy, and did what he thought was right – he wrote a satirical letter against it, under code names “Jeff” and “Rebecca.” The former President even joked about Shield’s nonexistent romantic life, quoting Shields as saying, “Dear girls, it is distressing, but I cannot marry you all . . . It is not my fault that I am so handsome and so interesting.”
The news was quick to reach an enraged Shields, and soon the two agreed on a duel of life and death to take place in Missouri, where dueling was still legal. Mutual friends stepped in to stop the two from actually dueling, which relieved Lincoln, who had the honor of picking the duel weapons. He later said he chose the broadsword for he feared Shields would actually kill him if it came down to pistols.
3. William McKinley thought carnations to be his good luck charm.
And partly, he was right.
He first received a flower of the sort from an opponent to wear during a debate. McKinley then went on to win the debate, his faith placed into the carnation as his lucky charm.
Former President William McKinley was then rarely seen without a red carnation stuck onto his lapel. On September 6, 1901, McKinley, on a whim, decided to give his red carnation to a girl in the crowd, saying “I must give this flower to another little flower.” However, moments later, an anarchist shot the former President – leading to his death due to gangrene eight days later.
It is important to remember that presidents are not mere figures we memorize; they are people who’ve contributed to society and have fascinating stories behind their renowned names. If we actually take the time to read about them, we’d not only appreciate them being former presidents, but them being human and ultimately, just like us.