Which President Grew Pot? 9 Surprising Things You Might Not Know About U.S. Presidents
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6. William Henry Harrison and the Stupidest Presidential Death. The Democrats were absolutely brutal to Harrison while he was running for president, calling him "Granny Harrison, the petticoat general" (for quitting the army before the War of 1812) and accusing him of having too much enthusiasm for hard cider. After all that, he won the presidency, taking office on a cold, wet day and delivering the longest inaugural speech in U.S. history -- a full two hours. Unfortunately he refused to wear a hat or overcoat, and consequently caught pneumonia. He died a month into his term.
7. The Straight Dope on George Washington. The father of the nation grew weed. That’s right. George Washington grew hemp at Mount Vernon as one of his three primary crops and promoted its growth. In the late-18th century, hemp was grown mainly for its industrial value and for soil stabilization. It was not yet popular for recreational use. No one really knows whether Washington indulged in this side of the herb. But he was certainly interested in recreational substances. He was a beer enthusiast and also young America’s leading brewer. A handwritten recipe for his favorite home brew survives.
8. Grover Cleveland, Draft Dodger. President Grover Cleveland was a draft dodger. That's not unique among U.S. presidents, but Cleveland actually hired someone to enter the service in his place during the Civil War. He paid George Benninsky, a 32-year-old Polish immigrant, $150 to serve in his stead, a move that was perfectly legal at the time, if not quite heroic. James Blaine, his political opponent, seized on this fact to ridicule Cleveland, until it was revealed that Blaine had done precisely the same thing himself.
9. John Quincy Adams, Skinny Dipper. JQA was possibly bonkers and frequently depressed. But the sixth president took naked swims in the Potomac during the wee hours to give himself a boost. In addition, Adams' detractors accused him of offering his childrens' nanny as a royal mistress while serving as Minister to Russia. To be fair, that is probably not true. But this is: Adams kept an alligator at the White House.
Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet contributing editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of 'Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.' Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.