The Sappy, Poignant, and Risqué Love Letters of 7 World Leaders

Ronald Dumont/Express/Getty Images
Ronald Dumont/Express/Getty Images

Napoleon Bonaparte was a bit of a clinger. Richard Nixon was shockingly sweet. And Warren Harding was a smut peddler.

We learn a lot about world leaders when the love letters they’ve written to their sweethearts become public. The results can either be humanizing or humiliating—and there’s been plenty of both over the years. Check out some of the sweetest, strangest, and steamiest love letters written by seven world leaders.

1. Richard Nixon's shockingly sweet Love Letters to his future wife, Pat.

Sappiest line: "Let’s go for a long ride Sundays; let’s go to the mountains weekends; let’s read books in front of fires; most of all let’s really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours."

The list of words used to describe Richard Nixon over the past 70 years is long and not particularly flattering—and chances are, not many people would have described the 37th President of the United States as a romantic. But it turns out the brusque politician could really lay on the schmaltz in his pre-White House days.

In 2012, love letters written to his soon-to-be wife, Pat, were put on display at the Nixon Library, and they show a whole different side of Tricky Dick:

"Dearest Heart

As I look out the window at the clouds with the sun trying to break through, I am thinking of how much you have meant to me the past two years.

Do you remember that funny guy who asked you to go to a 20-30 ladies night just about two years ago?

Well—you know that though he still may be funny—he’s changed since then. But you may not know—dear one—that he still gets the same thrill when you say you’ll go someplace with him—that he did when you said one time that he could take you for a ride in his car!

And did you know that he still looks out the window toward wherever you are and sends you the best he has in love, admiration, respect, and 'best of luck'?

And when the wind blows and the rains fall and the sun shines through the clouds (as it is now) he still resolves, as he did then, that nothing so fine ever happened to him or anyone else as falling in love with Thee—my dearest heart—

Love,

Dick"

The two met while auditioning for roles in a community theater production of The Dark Tower in 1938—Nixon, the thespian!—and were married after two years of courtship and maudlin letters. Though critics called their marriage loveless and "dingy" while they occupied the White House, those closest to them told a different story. Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig said that "[Nixon] worshipped Pat," and the couple was often found watching movies together or relaxing at the Camp David pool during their rare downtime.

The couple remained together until Pat’s death in 1993. Less than a year later, Richard Nixon would follow at the age of 81.

2. Warren Harding's X-rated letters to his mistress.

President Warren G. Harding
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Most scandalous lines: "Wouldn’t you like to get sopping wet out on Superior—not the lake—for the joy of fevered fondling and melting kisses? Wouldn’t you like to make the suspected occupant of the next room jealous of the joys he could not know, as we did in morning communion at Richmond?"

Yikes. Of all the historical documents the U.S. government would unearth, the erotic writings of President Warren G. Harding couldn’t have been high up on anyone’s wishlist. These ribald notes were written while Harding was lieutenant governor of Ohio and later through his stint as senator, stopping before his presidential inauguration in 1921. The only problem is that the letters weren’t written to his wife, Florence, but instead to her close friend—and the couple's neighbor, Carrie Fulton Phillips—whom he had an ongoing affair with.

In the letters, Harding described the "glorious kisses and fond caresses" of their secret dalliances, while bemoaning his own marriage as "merely existence, necessary for appearance’s sake." To throw people off their trail, Harding concocted a lurid code for his writing, referring to his penis as "Jerry" and her genitalia as "Mrs. Pouterson." ("Wish I could take you to Mount Jerry. Wonderful spot," Harding once wrote.)

And it's more than just the standard letters of lust—Harding also threw in some racy poetry, like this little number from January 1912:

“I love to suck
Your breath away
I love to cling —
There long to stay...

I love you garb’d
But naked more
Love your beauty
To thus adore...”

Eventually, the whole affair went south, with some theories saying Phillips’s pro-German sentiment was a strain on Harding as a politician during World War I (some even believed she was a spy), and others claiming she became infuriated over his affairs with other women (of which Harding apparently had many).

The letters themselves were ordered sealed by the courts until July 29, 2014, when they were released for all the world to blush over. Phillips probably should have just listened to Harding's plea from a January 1913 letter when he told her, "I have been thinking about all those letters you have. I think you [should] have a fire, chuck ’em!"

3. Napoleon Bonaparte’s turbulent love letters to Josephine.

A portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress Josephine.
Spencer Arnold Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Most fiery lines: "You are going to be here beside me, in my arms, on my breast, on my mouth? Take wing and come, come ... A kiss on your heart, and one much lower down, much lower!"

Before he was crowned Emperor of France in 1804, Napoleon was leading armies, consolidating his power, and pitching woo to Josephine de Beauharnais, who would become his wife and Empress. And one look at his early love letters shows a conqueror who isn’t shy about displaying his passions—or his clinginess:

"Since I left you, I have been constantly depressed. My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude. The charms of the incomparable Josephine kindle continually a burning and a glowing flame in my heart. When, free from all solicitude, all harassing care, shall I be able to pass all my time with you, having only to love you, and to think only of the happiness of so saying, and of proving it to you? I will send you your horse, but I hope you will soon join me."

But in many of his letters to her, Napoleon just bemoans how many notes he writes and how few he receives in return:

"I have your letters of the 16th and 21st. There are many days when you don't write. What do you do, then? No, my darling, I am not jealous, but sometimes worried. Come soon; I warn you, if you delay, you will find me ill. Fatigue and your absence are too much."

There may be a reason for the seemingly one-sided passion in their relationship: During the First Italian Campaign, just months after their marriage, rumors of Josephine’s infidelity reached Napoleon’s ears. This changed the tenor of their relationship, and by November 1796, his letters took a turn for the erratic:

"I don’t love you anymore; on the contrary, I detest you. You are a vile, mean, beastly slut. You don’t write to me at all; you don’t love your husband; you know how happy your letters make him, and you don’t write him six lines of nonsense…

Soon, I hope, I will be holding you in my arms; then I will cover you with a million hot kisses, burning like the equator."

Eventually, Josephine’s affair was confirmed to Napoleon, and the passion he once had for her slowly fizzled. They both took new lovers, but they remained officially married until 1809, when Napoleon announced plans to divorce Josephine, mainly because she couldn’t bear any children for him.

4. Joseph Stalin’s playful love letters to his wife, Nadya.

Joseph Stalin photograph.
Keystone/Getty Images

Most uncharacteristic line: "I miss you so much Tatochka—I'm as lonely as a horned owl."

The man who once chillingly said, "If the opposition disarms, all is well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves," was also known to end his love letters to his second wife, Nadya, with the adorable sendoff, "My kisses! Your Joseph."

Not many of Stalin’s letters survive, but, according to Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar author Simon Sebag Montefiore, we do know that the notes were trafficked by Soviet secret police and that the two were rarely out of touch for long. In the letters, he would call her by her pet name, Tatochka, but unlike Napoleon’s attempts to contact a seemingly indifferent Josephine, Nadya’s responses were far more loving: "I am kissing you passionately just as you kissed me when we were saying goodbye!"

But the relationship was also fiery, with the couple arguing often and Nadya threatening to leave Stalin and take their children with her. In November 1932, the morning after the couple had a blow-up at a party, Nadya was found dead of a gunshot wound that was allegedly self-inflicted.

5. King Henry VIII’s Extramarital Love Letters to Anne Boleyn.

A portrait of King Henry VIII.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A line fit for a king: "And to cause you yet oftener to remember me, I send you, by the bearer of this [letter], a buck killed late last night by my own hand, hoping that when you eat of it you may think of the hunter."

Sending a freshly killed buck unannounced to your mistress may result in a restraining order in modern times, but when King Henry VIII sent one to Anne Boleyn via messenger circa 1527, she knew she was officially being courted by the most powerful man in the land. At the time the letter (and venison) arrived, Henry was still technically married to Catherine of Aragon, his first wife—but since she couldn’t produce a male heir for the king, his eye started to wander to Anne. The two exchanged letters for years as they waited for the marriage to be dissolved. (It took the establishment of the Church of England to make that happen.)

When Henry's letters weren’t humble bragging about his latest kill, they were surprisingly poignant and vulnerable for a man notorious for settling his disputes in the Tower of London. Often, Henry would anxiously profess his love while fretting that Anne wasn't reciprocating his feelings.

"It is absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been for above a whole year stricken with the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail of finding a place in your heart and affection."

After all that wooing, Henry and Anne’s marriage would go on to last just three years. Unable to bear him a male heir—just like Catherine—Henry’s eyes wandered yet again. To annul the marriage he once sought so desperately, Henry had charges of alleged adultery and conspiracy levied against Anne, who was executed in May 1536.

6. George H.W. Bush’s Verbose Letters to Barbara.

A photo of President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush.
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Most touching lines: "I love you, precious, with all my heart and to know that you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours some day. How lucky our children will be to have a mother like you."

All the love letters George H.W. Bush wrote to his future wife, Barbara, during his time serving in World War II are lost, except for this one from December 1943, just months after becoming engaged. The letter paints a picture of a 19-year-old desperate to return home to his new fiancée but still duty-bound to the war. And coming in at over 500 words, it’s clear the young Bush had a lot to say.

“As the days go by the time of our departure draws nearer. For a long time I had anxiously looked forward to the day when we would go aboard and set to sea. It seemed that obtaining that goal would be all I could desire for some time, but, Bar, you have changed all that. I cannot say that I do not want to go — for that would be a lie. We have been working for a long time with a single purpose in mind, to be so equipped that we could meet and defeat our enemy. I do want to go because it is my part, but now leaving presents itself not as an adventure but as a job which I hope will be over before long. Even now, with a good while between us and the sea, I am thinking of getting back. This may sound melodramatic, but if it does it is only my inadequacy to say what I mean. Bar, you have made my life full of everything I could ever dream of — my complete happiness should be a token of my love for you.”

And when he wasn’t writing to Barbara, he was writing about Barbara. Existing letters H.W. wrote to his mother, Dorothy Walker Bush, are littered with effusive declarations of love for his young beau. "[I] miss Bar something terrific but I suppose it's only natural," he wrote. "It's really agony—so close and yet so far away."

7. Winston Churchill’s Timeless Letters to His Wife, Clementine.

A photo of Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine.
Lee/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Most romantic lines: "Time passes swiftly, but is it not joyous to see how great and growing is the treasure we have gathered together, amid the storms and stresses of so many eventful and, to millions, tragic and terrible years?"

The British Bulldog’s gruff exterior may have played great on the world stage, but in the privacy of pen and paper, Winston Churchill proved himself a loving, sentimental husband to wife Clementine. The two were engaged in 1908, after just four months of courtship, and a handful of their letters to each other survive to this day.

In an early note from September 1909, Winston wrote, "Sweet cat—I kiss your vision as it rises before my mind. Your dear heart throbs often in my own. God bless you darling keep you safe & sound." The letter is accompanied by a drawing of a galloping pug—"pug" being the nickname Clementine had for Winston. For Winston, Clementine was his "cat."

The couple’s 56-year marriage remained loving as the decades moved along, through World Wars and through peace. In a 1935 letter, Churchill summed it up simply: "What it has been to me to live all these years in your heart and companionship no phrases can convey."

12 Splendid Facts About Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace
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Kensington Palace might not be quite as famous as Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II’s primary residence and the longstanding center of the British monarchy, but its history is every bit as important—and intriguing. From William and Mary’s original occupancy in 1689 to William and Kate’s more recent one, the opulent estate has teemed with royals of every station (and possibly even a few ghosts) for more than three centuries. Read on to find out 12 fascinating facts about the palace that Edward VIII once called the “aunt heap.”

1. King William III and Queen Mary II relocated to Kensington Palace because of William’s asthma.

In 1689, King William III and Queen Mary II kicked off their coregency at Whitehall Palace, the longstanding home of the crown along the Thames River in central London. But the dirty, damp air aggravated William’s asthma, so the couple immediately began searching for a more suburban location. They found it in Nottingham House, a modest villa just a couple of miles from the city, and commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to expand the estate. The rulers moved in shortly before Christmas that same year, and the newly-christened Kensington Palace soon became the heart of the monarchy.

2. Kensington Palace was the location of Queen Anne’s final argument with childhood friend Sarah Churchill.

queen anne
A portrait of Queen Anne.
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Queen Anne, the eccentric, gout-ridden ruler played by Oscar-winner Olivia Colman in 2018’s The Favourite, split her time between Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace, overseeing renovations in both places. It was at Kensington that she financed the redecoration of Lady Abigail Masham’s apartments, an extravagant show of favoritism that further deteriorated the Queen's relationship with close childhood friend Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. Kensington was also the setting for their final, friendship-ending argument in 1711, after which Anne stripped Sarah and her husband of their rankings and banished them from court.

3. Queen Victoria was born and raised in Kensington Palace.

queen victoria statue at kensington palace
A statue of Queen Victoria, sculpted by her daughter, Louise, outside Kensington Palace.
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In June 1837, less than a month after her 18th birthday, Princess Victoria was informed that her uncle, King William IV, had died, and she would soon be crowned queen. She had lived at Kensington Palace for her whole life, and many expected her to rule from there or relocate to St. James’s Palace, her uncle’s primary residence. Instead, she set up shop in Buckingham Palace, which has been the official home of Britain’s sovereign ever since.

4. The Duke of Windsor nicknamed Kensington Palace the “Aunt Heap.”

Starting with Queen Victoria’s daughters Beatrice and Louise, Kensington Palace became the go-to place for monarchs to house various—often peripheral—members of the royal family. This tradition continued through the early 20th century, prompting the Duke of Windsor (Queen Elizabeth II’s throne-abdicating uncle Edward) to dub it the “aunt heap.”

5. Kensington Palace is said to be haunted.

Unsurprisingly, the rumors of ghosts roaming the halls of Kensington Palace are largely unsubstantiated. That said, there are quite a few of them: King George II supposedly looms over the King’s Gallery uttering his alleged last words, “Why won’t they come?” and Princess Margaret’s housekeeper saw an unknown “woman in Regency dress” in the doorway of the drawing room. Caroline of Brunswick, Caroline of Ansbach, and Princess Sophia have all been seen hanging around the palace, too—and the nursery in William and Kate’s wing of the estate is reportedly a hotbed for paranormal activity.

6. J.M. Barrie installed a statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens without permission.

peter pan statue at kensington gardens
Sir George Frampton's sculpture of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.
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Among J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan works was Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, a 1906 novel in which Peter leaves his London home and takes up residence in Kensington Gardens, cavorting with fairies and sailing around in a bird’s nest. In 1912, Barrie commissioned Sir George Frampton to create a bronze statue of Peter and secretly installed it in the gardens without asking permission. His newspaper announcement about the statue explained that it was meant to be a surprise “May-day gift” for children.

7. Kensington Palace was damaged during a World War II bombing.

Between 1940 and 1941, the Luftwaffe—Germany’s air force—targeted London with a relentless, catastrophic series of bombings that came to be known as the Blitz (the German word for lightning). Kensington Palace didn’t emerge totally unscathed: Bombs damaged the northern side of the palace and the queen’s drawing room.

8. The Kensington Palace grounds were flooded with around 60 million flowers after Princess Diana’s death.

kensington palace lawn covered in flowers after princess diana's death
An aerial view of the flowers on the Kensington Palace lawn during the week after Princess Diana's death.
David Brauchli/Getty Images

After their marriage in 1981, Princess Diana and Prince Charles moved into Apartment 8 at Kensington Palace and eventually raised their sons, William and Harry, there. Following Diana’s fatal car crash in 1997, mourners covered the palace grounds with an estimated 60 million flowers, as well as stuffed animals, flags, photos, and notes. Some bouquets were later used to compost the surrounding gardens, while others were donated to hospitals and nursing homes.

9. Nicky Hilton was married in Kensington Palace’s Orangery.

kensington palace orangery
The Kensington Palace Orangery.
Tony Hisgett, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Queen Anne’s largest contribution to Kensington Palace was the construction of the Orangery, an expansive greenhouse built in 1704 with enough room for her to house exotic plants and also host lavish summer parties. It’s used for similarly extravagant events today—Nicky Hilton got married there in 2015.

10. Prince William and Kate Middleton live at Kensington Palace with their family—and several other royals.

william, kate, harry, and the obamas at kensington palace
Prince William and Kate Middleton host Michelle and Barack Obama in the drawing room of Apartment 1A in 2016.
Dominic Lipinski, WPA Pool/Getty Images

William and Kate live in Kensington Palace’s expansive 20-room Apartment 1A with their three children, but they’re not the only royals currently posted up in various corners of the estate. Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, live in Ivy Cottage; the Queen’s cousin Prince Michael of Kent and his wife, Marie Christine von Reibnitz, occupy Apartment 10; and Michael’s older brother, the Duke of Kent, lives with his wife in Wren House.

11. Kensington Palace is staging its first theater production in 2020.

Throughout February and March of this year, acclaimed theater group Les Enfants Terribles is performing an immersive show called “United Queendom,” which explores the relationship between King George II’s wife, Queen Caroline, and his mistress, Henrietta Howard, in 1734. It’s Kensington Palace’s very first theatrical event to date, and it promises “political intrigue, court games, high drama, scandalous gossip, and smiling through gritted teeth.”

12. The design of Billy Porter’s 2020 Oscars gown was inspired by Kensington Palace.

billy porter oscars 2020 dress
Billy Porter stunts in his Kensington Palace-inspired gown at the 92nd Oscars ceremony on February 9, 2020.
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Inspired by a tour of Kensington Palace, Billy Porter’s stylist, Sam Ratelle, enlisted British fashion designer Giles Deacon—perhaps best known for designing Pippa Middleton’s wedding dress—to craft an Oscar gown for Porter using design elements from the royal estate. The final product featured a high-necked, gold-leaf bodice and a full, billowing skirt bearing images of Roman statues from Kensington’s Cupola Room.

45 Amazing Facts About All 44 American Presidents

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iStock.com/traveler1116

In March 1789, the U.S. Constitution was officially enacted and the office of the President of the United States was established. The following month, General George Washington was sworn in as the first Commander-in-Chief and since then, 44 men have held the job (one in two non-consecutive terms, which is why we have 45 presidencies total). Below is an interesting tidbit about each person who has held the highest office in the land.

1. George Washington

George Washington with his family.
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Not only was George Washington known as the father of the country, he was also known as the "Father of the American Foxhound" for creating a unique breed of foxhound he called "Virginia Hounds."

2. John Adams

John Adams
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John Adams signed a congressional act creating the United States Marine Band in 1798, which is now the oldest active professional musical organization in the U.S. Known as the President's Own, they played at the first ever New Year's celebration at the president’s house and, later, at Thomas Jefferson's inauguration.

3. Thomas Jefferson

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson.
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Thomas Jefferson offered to sell his personal library when the Library of Congress was burned by the British during the War of 1812. He sold them 6487 books from his own collection, the largest in America at the time.

4. James Madison

James Madison
National Archive, Newsmakers

James and Dolley Madison were crazy for ice cream. They had an ice house built on the grounds of their Montpelier estate so that they could enjoy ice cream and cold drinks all summer long, and they were known to serve bowls of oyster ice cream at official government functions.

5. James Monroe

James Monroe
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James Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth, attended Napoleon's coronation at Notre Dame Cathedral in 1804 while he was serving as the American ambassador in the U.K.

6. John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams
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John Quincy Adams enjoyed skinny-dipping. He was known to take 5 a.m. plunges in the Potomac River as part of his morning exercise routine.

7. Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson
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Andrew Jackson despised banks and made it his mission to defund the Second Bank of the United States (he succeeded). So, it seems particularly ironic that his portrait has graced the $20 since 1929.

8. Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren
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Born in New York in 1782, Martin Van Buren was the first president to have been born after the American Revolution, technically making him the first American-born president. (The seven before him were all born in the American colonies.)

9. William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison
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Harrison kept a goat as his pet, but never bothered to name him. (He called him Billy goat.) He also had a beloved cow he called Sukey.

10. John Tyler

John Tyler
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John Tyler loved music and had considered becoming a concert violinist before deciding to follow his father's advice and study law. Often, he would play music for guests at the White House and in his later years he devoted himself to perfecting his skill at violin and fiddle. In 2004, when he was sculpted in bronze as part of a presidents' memorial in South Dakota, the artists included his violin in his statue.

11. James K. Polk

James Polk
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When he was 17, James Polk needed surgery to have some kidney stones removed. He had some brandy to numb the pain but was awake for the entire procedure—anesthesia wouldn't be invented for another 30-some years.

12. Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor and his horse, Old Whitey.
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Zachary Taylor was a war hero whose beloved horse, Old Whitey, was nearly as popular as he was—numerous times while the steed was grazing on the White House lawn, visitors would approach him to pluck a hair from his tail for a souvenir.

13. Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore
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A voracious reader, Millard Fillmore was known to keep a dictionary on him in order to improve his vocabulary.

14. Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce
National Archive, Newsmakers

Franklin Pierce had a number of nicknames, including "Handsome Frank," but likely the most embarrassing was "Fainting Frank." As a brigadier general in the Mexican-American war, he sustained a groin and knee injury during a battle in 1847 when he was thrown against the pommel of his horse. He only briefly passed out from the pain, but the nickname stuck around for life.

15. James Buchanan

James Buchanan
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Though James Buchanan was engaged once in his late twenties, she broke it off. He became the only president who was a lifelong bachelor.

16. Abraham Lincoln

portrait of Abraham Lincoln
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Before Abraham Lincoln found his "look" with his famous beard, he was known for his fairly unkempt appearance. One reporter referred to his "thatch of wild republican hair" with his "irregular flocks of thick hair carelessly brushed" across his face.

17. Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson
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In his day, Andrew Johnson was known as the best dressed president. Growing up, his mother sent him to apprentice with a tailor, and he frequently made his own clothes and suits.

18. Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant
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In an attempt to unite the North and South, Ulysses S. Grant made Christmas a national holiday in 1870.

19. Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes
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The first Siamese cat to arrive in America was sent as a gift to Hayes and his wife, Lucy, by the American consul in Bangkok. Siam the cat landed at the White House in 1879 after traveling by ship to Hong Kong then San Francisco, and then by train to Washington, D.C.

20. James A. Garfield

James A Garfield
National Archive, Newsmakers

As a child, James Garfield dreamed of being a sailor. He read a number of nautical novels which fueled his imagination, but a teenage job towing barges was as close to a seafaring life as he saw.

21. Chester A. Arthur

Chester Alan Arthur
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Chester A. Arthur oversaw a massive renovation of the White House and its private chambers. Arthur hired Louis C. Tiffany—Tiffany and Co.'s first design director and the man most known for his work with stained glass—to do all of the redesign. To help cover some of the costs, Arthur had 24 wagon-loads of old furniture, drapes, and other household items (some of which dated back to the Adams administration) sold at auction.

22. Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland circa 1885.
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He was born Stephen Grover Cleveland, but dropped Stephen before he entered into politics. He was affectionately called "Uncle Jumbo" by his younger relatives because he was nearly 6 feet tall and weighed about 270 pounds.

23. Benjamin Harrison

Portrait of Benjamin Harrison.
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Benjamin Harrison had a tight-knit family and loved to amuse and dote on his grandchildren. He put up the first recorded White House Christmas tree in 1889, and was known to put on the Santa suit for entertainment.

24. Grover Cleveland

Portrait of Grover Cleveland
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Grover Cleveland was also the first (and only) U.S. President to serve non-consecutive terms, so he makes this list twice. Between terms, he moved back to New York City, worked at a law firm, and his wife gave birth to their famous first daughter, Baby Ruth.

25. William McKinley

Portrait of William McKinley
National Archive, Newsmakers/Getty

William McKinley had a double yellow-headed Amazon parrot named Washington Post who served in an official capacity as a White House greeter. The bird also knew the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy"—the president would whistle the first few notes, and then Washington Post would finish the rest.

26. Theodore Roosevelt

Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt
Hulton Archive, Getty

For his official White House portrait, Theodore Roosevelt chose the famed French portraiture artist Theobald Chartran, who had earlier done a portrait of the First Lady Edith Roosevelt. "It was difficult to get the president to sit still," The New York Times reported Chartran said before the painting was unveiled and displayed in France in 1903. "I never had a more restless or more charming sitter." Roosevelt, however, hated the painting, and after hiding it in a dark hall of the White House for years, he eventually burned it.

27. William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft
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In 1910, William Taft became the first president to attend baseball's opening day and throw the ceremonial first pitch, a tradition that has been honored by nearly every president since (sans Carter and Trump, thus far).

28. Woodrow Wilson

portrait of Woodrow Wilson
Tony Essex/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Woodrow Wilson is among many U.S. Presidents known for their love of golf. Wilson enjoyed daily rounds to stay in shape and relax, particularly during World War I, when he even used black golf balls so he could play through the winter.

29. Warren G. Harding

Portrait of Warren G. Harding
Courtesy of the National Archives/Newsmakers

Warren G. Harding loved playing poker and held weekly games at the White House. Rumor has it he even bet, and lost, an entire set of official White House china.

30. Calvin Coolidge

portrait of Calvin Coolidge
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Though three presidents (Adams, Jefferson, and Monroe) have died on the 4th of July, Calvin Coolidge is the only president to have been born on that date.

31. Herbert Hoover

portrait of Herbert Hoover
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After he left office, Herbert Hoover wrote a number of books, including The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson, the first biography of a president written by another president.

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Portrait of Franklin D Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, taken at the time of their engagement, circa 1903.
Portrait of Franklin D Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, taken at the time of their engagement, circa 1903.
Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When Franklin married Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905, they chose the date March 17 because President Theodore Roosevelt would be in New York City for the St. Patrick's Day parade, and he'd agreed to walk Eleanor, his niece, down the aisle. FDR and TR were fifth cousins.

33. Harry S. Truman

Harry Truman takes the oath of office in 1945; standing beside him are his wife, Bess, and daughter, Margaret.
Harry Truman takes the oath of office in 1945; standing beside him are his wife, Bess, and daughter, Margaret.
Central Press/Getty Images

Though Harry Truman met his wife, Bess, in the fifth grade and they were high school sweethearts, they didn't marry until they were in their mid-thirties.

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower in front of a WWII map.
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Even though Ike's military career spanned both world wars and made him one of only nine men who have ever attained the rank of five-star general, he never once saw active combat.

35. John F. Kennedy

JFK during a campaign.
Keystone/Getty Images

JFK lived off of his family's considerable trusts, so he donated all of his congressional and presidential salaries to charities like the United Negro College Fund and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.

36. Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson behind a podium.
Keystone/Getty Images

Lyndon Johnson had two beagles named Him and Her. The dogs became national celebrities after being frequently photographed with the president; they were heavily featured in a 1964 Life magazine profile that stated, "Not many dogs have been privileged to shoo birds off the White House lawn, get underfoot at a Cabinet meeting, or mingle with dignitaries at a state ball."

37. Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon playing the piano.
National Archive/Newsmakers

Nixon's mother encouraged him to play piano at an early age and he went on to learn violin, clarinet, saxophone, and accordion. In 1961, he even performed a song he wrote on The Jack Paar Program.

38. Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford in 1934.
Michigan University/Getty Images

Ford attended the University of Michigan, where he was a star football player. The team won national titles in both 1932 and '33 (Ford's sophomore and junior years). After graduation, he turned down offers to play with both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers; instead, he took a coaching job at Yale University because he also wanted to attend their law school.

39. Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Jimmy Carter was known for his frugality, and he went so far as to sell the presidential yacht while he was in office. The USS Sequoia had been in use since the Hoover administration, but by 1977, it cost $800,000 a year in upkeep and staffing. Carter sold it for $236,000.

40. Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan in 1965.
Warner Bros./Courtesy of Getty Images

Ronald Reagan's last acting role was also his first go as a villain. The film, 1964's The Killers, was based on an Ernest Hemingway story and was intended to be one of the first made-for-television movies. The network, however deemed it too violent for TV, so it was released in theaters instead.

41. George H.W. Bush

George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara Bush in November 1978.
George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara Bush in November 1978.
Dirck Halstead/Liaison

George and his wife, Barbara, met as teenagers in 1941 and were married just over two years later. They died within months of each other in 2018, and their 73-year marriage was the longest of any first couple. (The second-longest presidential marriage was that of John and Abigail Adams at 54 years. Adams was the only other president whose son also held the job.)

42. Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton does a crossword puzzle
Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Bill Clinton enjoys crossword puzzles so much he once wrote the clues for a New York Times puzzle in 2017.

43. George W. Bush

George W. Bush goes jogging with an injured army veteran.
President George W. Bush jogs with Army Staff Sergeant Christian Bagge, who lost both legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq, at the White House in 2006.
Matthew Cavanaugh-Pool, Getty Images

In 1993—two years before he became the governor of Texas—George W. Bush ran the Houston marathon, finishing with a time of 3:44:52. He is the only president to have ever run a marathon.

44. Barack Obama

Obama playing basketball with his staff.
President Barack Obama plays basketball with cabinet secretaries and members of Congress on the White House court in 2009.
Pete Souza, The White House via Getty Images

Barack Obama's love of basketball was well-documented during his presidency, but according to one of his high school teammates, he earned the nickname "Barry O'Bomber" because of all the tough shots he was known to take (and miss).

45. Donald Trump

Donald Trump with a book.
Peter Kramer/Getty Images

Of the many commercial products that Donald Trump has put his name on, the Tour de Trump—a bike race meant to be the American answer to the Tour de France—might be the oddest. It was called that for its first two years (1989-'90) before being renamed the Tour de DuPont for its final six years as an event.

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