Happy President’s Day – Now Get to Work!
So today we celebrate the 42nd edition of President’s Day. Former Vice Presidents must be a little upset, no day for them. Although we’ve had presidents a lot longer than 42 years, we originally celebrated Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays on the 14th and 22nd of February respectively. The celebration of Washington’s Birthday started in 1885 and was traditionally called “President’s Day.”
In 1971 it was decided to move President’s Day to the third Monday in February to honor all president’s past and present. Why the change? Why did we decide to dis Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays? Well, Congress, in their infinite wisdom came up with something called the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act” to give the hard working taxpayers of the United States more Monday holiday three day weekends. You’ve got to love that kind of forward thinking. Sort of like the right turn OK on red. Can’t balance the budget but we can get time off. Way to go guys!!
- Our current president, Barack Obama, makes the trivia list in two categories. He’s the first black president as well as the first president born outside the continental United States. His official birthplace is Hawaii but you can discuss among yourselves about other options.
- Although Obama is officially the 44th president there have only been 43 presidents. Our old friend Grover Cleveland was elected to two non-consecutive terms so he is counted twice. He was the 22nd and 24th US president.
- Currently only natural born US citizens can be president but in early times that was not the case. Eight presidents were born in Great Britain. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison.
- Does book learnin count? Nine presidents seemed to do just fine without the benefits of a college education. Those would be Washington, Jackson, Van Buren, Taylor, Fillmore, Lincoln, Johnson, Cleveland and Truman.
- Harvard leads the list with 7 graduates. J. Adams, J.Q. Adams, T. Roosevelt, F. Roosevelt, Kennedy, GW Bush and Barack Obama. Yale has five so far, Taft, Ford, GHW Bush, Clinton and GW Bush.
- The most common religion among presidents is Episcopalian with Presbyterian coming in second.
- Since mostly Europeans settled the US it’s not hard to understand that 42 presidents share just 7 common heritages. Dutch, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Swiss and German.
- Most people know our tallest president was Abe Lincoln at 6’4” but a lessor number are aware that James Madison was the shortest at 5”4”.
- For two years the nation had a president and vice president that were appointed and not elected by the people of the Electoral College. When Spiro Agnew resigned as Nixon’s VP, Gerald Ford was appointed to fill the post. When Nixon resigned the presidency, President Gerald Ford appointed Nelson Rockefeller as his VP until the next election.
- In 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election to George Bush due to the Electoral College count. But three other candidates suffered the same fate as Gore. In 1824 Andrew Jackson won the people but lost to John Quincy Adams. In 1876, household name Samuel J. Tilden won the vote, but lost to Rutherford B. Hayes. Grover Cleveland was the big winner of the popular vote in 1888 but Benjamin Harrison ended up taking the oath.
Some Final Thoughts
Some of my overseas Facebook friends have a hard time wondering why anyone would put themselves through all the hype and media it takes to win the presidency. I have to admit I don’t have the answer, but each year there is no shortage of people who want the job.
I guess there are some pretty good perks. Who could turn down a big paycheck for life, along with lifetime protection by the Secret Service? Then there’s that “Most Powerful Man In The World” deal, at least until Hillary wins. Personally I think these people all want to belong to the most exclusive club in the world. Since the beginning of our country, only 43 members have been admitted. Maybe it’s just that simple.
How are you spending this year's President's Day?