Previous
Next

10 Disturbing Facts About US Presidents

 

 

Without trying to be too political, I think its safe to say that the current President of the United States has had a rather complicated relationship with morality.

Scandal after scandal, accusation after accusation, it’s not exactly been smooth sailing for Mr. Trump ever since he announced his candidacy all those years ago.

But it’s not just The Donald who has been hit by scandal whilst serving in The Oval Office.

Since the office was first established in 1789, there have been plenty of questionable men who have taken the Presidential Oath.

Whether they be big, small or just plain weird, the following ten facts about ten POTUSes throughout history are all disturbing in one way or another and will really make you question exactly why you bother voting in the first place.

Let’s get historical, political and controversial as we dive into ten of the most disturbing facts about men who have been called Mr. President.

10. Teddy Roosevelt Loved Killing Animals

Van Altena, Edward [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Despite being the man they named the Teddy Bear after, Theodore Roosevelt was anything but cuddly.

President from 1901-1909, Roosevelt helped established many new national parks across the nation, as well as the first national bird and game reserves and over 150 new national forests.

All of this sounds pretty positive, right? Roosevelt was famous for his love of the outdoors, so this was surely just a harmless gesture to help preserve nature? Well…

You see, one of the reasons Roosevelt loved the outdoors so much was because he loved to hunt. A lot. In fact, many speculate that Roosevelt helped establish these new national parks in order to hunt the animals that lived there more easily. That’s like giving candy to a baby just so you can steal it back from them later.

Whilst Roosevelt was undoubtedly a good president and his conservation work was legendary, that legend is undermined slightly when you realised he loved killing animals just as much as he did saving them.

9. Chester A. Arthur Sold A Load Of Priceless Artefacts

Public Domain [Wikimedia Commons]

This one is only low key disturbing, but disturbing nonetheless.

Chester A. Arthur is not remembered all that often in chats about Presidents of the US. He was President for four years, only became President when the previous Commander-In-Chief, James Garfield, died and he himself died just one year after his presidency ended.

One of Arthur’s more notable “achievements” came when he was redecorating the White House. In order to afford new furniture, Arthur decided to have a little jumble sale to raise some funds. Only Arthur wasn’t selling clothes and old comic books.

The President sold 24 wagon-loads of White House goods in order to raise funds, including priceless memorabilia, such as a hat worn by John Adams and a pair of pants that once belonged to Abraham Lincoln.

Whilst this isn’t overly disturbing (certainly not by the rest of this list’s standards), the fact that a President would so carelessly discard valuable artefacts just to afford some new chairs doesn’t speak too highly of Chester.

8. Andrew Jackson Evicted Millions Of Native Americans

Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ok, those first two were kinda funny. This is where we get serious.

The treatment of Native Americans by white, European settlers has been and still is a very contentious topic of discussion.

One President who plays a huge role in this discussion is Andrew Jackson, who served as the seventh President of the United States from 1829-1837.

In 1830, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which allowed his government to move the Native tribes of the South in federal-owned land in the West. As you can expect, this act was opposed by pretty much all of the Native tribes, but it was pushed ahead anyway.

The legislation removed thousands and thousands of people from their homes, sometimes by force. Many of the people moved from their homes died before they reached their new lands. This vast forced migration became known as “The Trail of Tears”, which says all you really need to know.

Whilst he was not the only one guilty of this, Jackson’s cruelty to the Native Americans resulted in destruction and death on a huge scale.

7. FDR Failed To Help Holocaust Victims

Public Domain [Wikimedia Commons]

I hope you were all paying attention in the seminars, because there’s some serious debate here.

As we all know (or should know), the Nazi regime orchestrated the mass deportation, detention and eventually slaughter of millions and millions of Jewish people, homosexuals, disabled people and other minorities groups in the 1930s and ’40s.

One of the major turning points in the Second World War and the eventual end of the Holocaust was the United States’ decision to enter the war in 1941. But what about the period before the US entered the war? And how different might things have been had they entered sooner?

US President Franklin D. Roosevelt was famously against entering the US into the war or interfering in European affairs. Whilst he did allow Jewish citizens in the US to remain there instead of returning to Nazi controlled lands, he was unable to allow large numbers of Jewish immigrants into the country.

Whilst this was mainly down to his Senate, Roosevelt could be perceived as weak for not pushing the issue sooner. While he did eventually do this, it was too late for many Jewish citizens and the issue remains extremely controversial to this day.

This is a topic that can’t be explained in just one slide, so do your own reading if you’re interested, but this is an extremely murky area surrounding one who many see as one of the greatest Presidents of all time.

6. Harry S. Truman – KKK Member?

Public Domain/Flickr (CC Paul Walsh)

Ok, so this one is open to speculation, but what isn’t these days?

President Harry S. Truman (the “S” didn’t stand for anything, by the way) took office in January 1945 and is most famous for being the President who ordered the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If this wasn’t bad enough, then you should hear what he got up to at home.

When Truman was a judge in Missouri in the 1920s, he was advised to join the Klu Klux Klan to aid his re-election campaign. The Klan, known for their racist, anti-Semitic and discriminatory views, were a powerful force in local politics at the time and Truman was told that, if he joined, he’d be more likely to get re-elected.

Some stories claim Truman never joined, others claim that he paid the initial $10 membership fee but was never active, whilst some say that he paid the fee and then demanded it back once he was told by the Klan that he couldn’t hire any Catholics or Jews when he was re-elected.

Whatever the story, the fact that a future US President was even associated with a group such as The Klan is extremely worrying. Truman may have been right to reject The Klan’s membership, but, if he were truly an honest man, then you’d think he would have stayed away from them all together and not even entertained the idea of joining.

5. Richard Nixon Organised A Hit?

Anonymous/AP

As if Nixon could get any worse.

Richard Milhous Nixon (yes, that is where Matt Groening got the name from) is best known for the famous – or rather infamous – Watergate scandal involving numerous misdeeds on behalf of Nixon and his administration.

This wasn’t the only time Richard would fall on the wrong side of the moral line, however.

In 1972, the year of Watergate, one of Nixon’s senior aides, Charles Colson, and two co-conspirators hatched a plot to kill Jack Anderson, an investigative journalist who had uncovered several damning stories about Nixon over the past decade.

Plans ranged from drugging Anderson with LSD to staging a fatal mugging, but ultimately those involved were arrested once news of Watergate broke out. The two co-conspirators revealed, under oath, that they were plotting to kill Anderson.

Whilst it’s unknown whether or not Nixon knew of this plot, it’s yet another black mark against a man’s whose political career ended in scandal.

Nixon remains one of the darkest figures in modern American political history and his story would have been a lot darker had this plan gone ahead.

4. Grover Cleveland Married His Adopted Daughter

Thure de Thulstrup [Public domain]

So the last few entries on this list have all been allegations or rumours. This one is totally true.

Grover Cleveland holds the honour of being the only President in US history to serve non-consecutive terms, making him both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States.

If only this were Cleveland’s only interesting fact.

In 1886, Cleveland married Frances Folsom, a young girl from Buffalo, New York. This all seems perfectly innocent, until you read that Folsom’s father was a close friend of Cleveland’s and the President had overseen Frances’ upbringing after her father died. Bit weird.

To make matters even more dubious, Frances was just 21-years-old when she married the 49-year-old Cleveland, which amounts to an age gap of 28 years between the two.

Obviously, this would never happen in today’s society, but, at the time, no one batted an eyelid. In fact, Frances was very well-received by the public, who praised her beauty and personality.

The marriage of Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom was a product of its time, but that does not mean that we have to be comfortable with it in the 21st Century.

3. Thomas Jefferson And Sally Hemings

attributed to James Akin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ah, Thomas Jefferson, it was only a matter of time before you showed up on this list.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers of America and the nation’s third President, was not the most morally sound of people.

Jefferson famously said “all men are created equal”, but clearly he didn’t believe this as he owned a vast number of slaves.

One of these slaves was named Sally Hemings, and she presents a whole load of problems when it comes to Jefferson’s personal life.

Firstly, she was the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife, Martha, who passed away in 1782. Following her death – and while Sally was still a teenager – it is believed that Jefferson began a sexual relationship with Sally and many historians agree that Jefferson actually fathered six children with his slave.

A small number of scholars disagree, but the general consensus is that Jefferson and Hemings did have children together.

If having children with your slave isn’t bad enough, then the fact that Hemings was the half-sister of Jefferson’s dead wife surely is. Owning slaves is bad enough in the first place, but this really does take the cake.

Despite his great work as President, Jefferson’s relationship with Hemings will always be a sour note in his historical legacy.

2. Warren G. Harding And The White House Closet

[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

No, not the name of a delightful children’s book, but a rather serious story about a President and his busy hands.

Warren G. Harding (this middle initial actually does stand for something, in case you were wondering) was President for just two years between 1921 and 1923.

Usually ranked amongst the worst US Presidents of all time, Harding wasn’t just a bad politician, but he was a pretty awful person too.

A notorious womaniser, Harding had many affairs whilst in office, including one with Carrie Phillips, which lasted for fifteen years.

The President’s most famous mistress (now there’s a sentence opener) was arguably Nan Britton, who supposedly gave birth to Harding’s illegitimate child just one year before he took office.

Among other claims, Britton posed that she and Harding had engaged in sexual intercourse in a White House closet during his time in office. If this wasn’t bad enough, Harding also supposedly posted members of the Secret Service outside the door to prevent his wife from entering. Whatever way you look at it, that’s pretty scummy.

Harding’s extra-martial activities can’t even be excused by good political actions when in office. He was a bad President, a terrible husband and possibly the worst father in history too. All in all, it’s probably best that most people have totally forgotten that Harding ever existed in the first place.

1. Lyndon B. Johnson Was Obsessed With His Genitals

Yoichi Okamoto [Public domain]

This one is just weird.

Lyndon B. Johnson, or LBJ (which is apt, considering what those last two letters are), assumed Presidency of the United States following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Known for continuing America’s involvement in Vietnam (a policy that would see him voted out of office in 1969), Johnson is usually ranked quite highly in terms of Presidents. Nevertheless, this fact is really, really weird.

According to numerous sources (seriously, there is so much out there about this topic), LBJ was obsessed with his genitals.

Historian Marshall Frady wrote in a review of a Johnson biography that the President would often show people his penis in the White House bathroom and ask if they’d ever seen one “as big as this”. On top of that, he apparently nicknamed his special sausage “Jumbo”, which sounds like something out of a bad teen movie.

Furthermore, some sources claim that, when having a new shower fitted in the White House bathroom, LBJ asked specifically for a water jet that blasted water directly into his crotch, because he enjoyed the feeling. Can you imagine asking someone to do that for you? There’s body confidence, Lyndon, then there’s just creepiness.

Whilst this isn’t as bad as some of the other stuff on this list – at least LBJ didn’t hurt or kill anybody with his penis (that we know of) – it’s still very strange that the leader of the free world was obsessed with what was in his underwear. I guess sometimes boys will be boys, even when that boy is President of the United States.

 

Previous
Next
Please wait...