Which President Grew Pot? 9 Surprising Things You Might Not Know About U.S. Presidents
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It's President's Day and just like every year, lists ranking the legacy of the 44 U.S. presidents proliferate. But we thought it would be fun to show you the wild side of the White House.
1. Calvin Coolidge, Naked Cowboy. The former Republican governor of Massachusetts may win the award as the oddest man who ever inhabited the White House. Known for his laconic style, “Silent Cal” snoozed through much of his presidency and kept special pets around, including Rebecca the Raccoon. Coolidge was fond of playing cowboys and Indians, once having himself photographed dressed as a Sioux Indian chief. But his weirdest pastime was hopping on and off a mechanical horse in his underpants, sometimes donning a cowboy hat for kicks. Coolidge acquired the electrically operated horse in 1925, and kept it in his dressing room. He could pull a lever and increase the intensity of his ride. This was long before the film Urban Cowboy popularized the mechanical bull, so we give Coolidge points for being ahead of the trend curve. Yeehaw!
2. William Howard Taft, aka “Big Lub." Nicknamed Big Lub by his college mates, President Taft, at 6’2” and weighing over 300 pounds, was quite a big boy. And he needed a big bathtub. According to a story that has never been definitely proven, he once got stuck in the White House bathtub because of his girth. We do know that he had to have a larger tub brought in for his use. Despite his size, he was said to bust a mean move on the dance floor.
3. Abraham Lincoln and the Spirit World. In the mid- to late-19th century, Spiritualism was huge in America, and many believed that contact with the spirit world was possible. Raised in backwoods Indiana, Lincoln had a strong mystical side and put a great deal of stock in dreams and omens. He once wrote to his friend Joshua Speed that he had always been the superstitious type, and is reported to have feared the number 13. A Spiritualist herself, Mary Todd Lincoln held séances right in the White House. Though she seems to have been the more ardent enthusiast, Lincoln is reported to have attended at least some of her séances. The president's ghost is said to have haunted the White House since his death.
4. Thomas Jefferson’s Shopping Addiction. He wrote the Declaration of Independence and stoked the fires of revolution in France. But what you might not know about this American renaissance man is that Jefferson was perpetually in debt. The world-class shopaholic adored fine wine and pimping out his pad, the neoclassical mansion Monticello. He filled it with snazzy furniture, rare books, archaeological specimens, and expensive art, including 63 paintings and seven terracotta busts. He also liked to invite his friends -- sometimes as many as 50 at a time -- over to party. Wealthy friends often had to lend him money and he even received – and promptly pissed away -- a cash infusion from Congress, which bought part of his book collection. Toward the end of his life, Jefferson developed a cockamamie plan to sell lottery tickets to save Monticello, which was a bust. He left his family battling a mountain of unpaid bills.
5. James Buchanan, Guilty Bachelor. Buchanan was America's only bachelor president. But he almost tied the knot in 1819 to Anne Caroline Coleman, a beautiful and fabulously wealthy iron heiress from Philadelphia. Until something went horribly wrong. Coleman broke off the engagement and died a week later, probably by suicide. Buchanan refused to speak about what happened, but some think Coleman heard rumors that the young politician was spending time with another woman. Others thought she decided that Buchanan only wanted her for her money. In any case, she died at 23 and Buchanan swore off marriage for life.