Weird History
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Facts About Presidents We Learned In 2020 That Made Us Say 'Really?'

Updated April 1, 2021 10.2k votes 1.1k voters 23.1k views21 items

List RulesVote up the facts from 2020 that are truly presidential.

Presidents are often in the limelight, both during and after their term(s) in office, and their hobbies and lifestyles are constantly on public display. And since each president is such an influential part of American history, their lives are all thoroughly documented in history books. Not all of their wild and unexpected stories are discussed in classrooms, though.

Decades - and in some cases, centuries - later, we're still learning more new facts about the last 45 presidents the United States has had to date. Vote up the facts about the presidents that you're most excited to have learned.

  • Photo: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    John Tyler, who was born in 1790, was the 10th president of the United States and served until 1845. His son, Lyon Tyler, was born eight years later in 1853. Lyon followed in his father's footsteps in that he had children late in life - he had two sons when he was in his 70s.

    John Tyler's grandsons, Lyon Jr. and Harrison, lived well into the 21st century, despite their grandfather being born in the 18th century. Lyon Jr. unfortunately passed in September of 2020, but his brother Harrison, as of December 2020, is still alive in his 90s.

    Awesome fact?
  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    All presidents who take office come in with specific goals in mind, and they often promise their constituents that they will achieve them. James K. Polk was no different: He started his presidency with four major goals regarding tariffs, the US Treasury, and the territories of Oregon, California, and New Mexico.

    At the end of his single term in office, he had accomplished all four of those goals, effectively completing his agenda. A little over three months after stepping down as President, Polk was dead of cholera.

    Awesome fact?
  • Jefferson and Adams were the last surviving members of the team of men who pushed back against the British to create the United States of America. The two presidents had a rocky relationship; they were friends at one point but they seemingly became mortal enemies for a time before resuming their friendship in their final years.

    July 4th, 1826 was the last day for both Jefferson and Adams. Moments before Adams passed, he claimed, "Thomas Jefferson still survives." He was incorrect, however, as Jefferson had passed merely five hours prior.

    Awesome fact?
  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    During WWII, Lieutenant John F. Kennedy held his post on a patrol torpedo boat near the Solomon Islands. When a Japanese destroyer rammed into his boat, he and many of his men were tossed into the water. The group of survivors swam to the nearest island along with JFK, who tugged one of his injured crewmates along by keeping the man's life vest strings in his mouth as he swam.

    Days later, he directed his men through another swim in hopes of finding fresh water and food. While on this island, JFK and a companion set out swimming again to find some sort of hope for survival, and they ran into two men canoeing. Those men transported a message that Kennedy carved into a coconut, and this message ultimately saved the stranded crew.

    The coconut was preserved and was even used as a paperweight when JFK served as president.

    Awesome fact?