Archive by Author
August 7, 2014

Harry Truman

Our 33rd President: 1945-1953

Just the Facts:

  •  His parents couldn’t agree on a middle name so the initial “S” was put on his birth certificate (it doesn’t stand for anything).
  •  Before president, he owned a “haberdashery,” which was a fancy word for a hat or clothing store.
  •  Truman loved to play the piano.
  •  He was the only president since 1900 that didn’t attend college.
  •  His motto was: “The Buck Stops Here.”
  •  He was very honest.
  •  First Lady Bess lived longer than any other first lady – until 97 years old!


Harry was born in Missouri and lived on a farm.  He had a lot of chores as a child, such as cutting wood and getting water from the well.  He graduated from high school but didn’t go on to college because he needed to help support his family.  He did a lot of odd jobs, including bookkeeper, farmer, and railroad timekeeper.  Harry read a lot and loved Mark Twain’s books.


He fought in France during World War I and rose through the ranks to become a “major.”  After the Great War, he returned home and opened a mens clothing store (a “haberdashery”) – unfortunately it was a failure and he lost a lot of money.  After that, he decided to go into politics.  He worked for the political boss in Missouri, who helped him win elections.  Eventually, Truman represented Missouri in Congress.  Then, FDR picked Truman as his vice president when he ran for his fourth term.


Truman became president when FDR died suddenly the beginning of his fourth term.  Within months, Germany surrendered and World War II was over in Europe.  Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bombs on the two Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Soon after, Japan surrendered and World War II in the Pacific was over as well.  He created the Marshall Plan, which helped Europe to rebuild after World War II ended.  He also helped to create NATO, an agreement among America and its European allies to come to each other’s aid.


The rest of Truman’s presidency was taken up with concerns about communism.  His foreign policy was guided by the Truman Doctrine, which stated that America would help any country that was fighting communism.  This doctrine put America at odds with the Soviet Union and brought about the Cold War (it lasted for 40 years).  It also put America in the middle of disputes all over the world, including the Korean War.


Harry met his future wife, Bess, when he was six years old.  They were in Sunday school and went to elementary school together.  They married in 1919 (after he served in World War I) and they had one daughter, Elizabeth.  While at the White House, some people called them the “three musketeers” because they were such a tight family and always together.


Bess didn’t like the social life in Washington DC and the lack of privacy in the White House.  She did help Harry in private, however – she gave him advice and reviewed his speeches.  His nickname for her was “The Boss.”   After his presidency, Harry and Bess returned to Missouri.  Harry was active in politics until he died at 90 years old.

Famous Quotes 


“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”

“It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.”


August 6, 2014

Franklin Roosevelt

Our 32nd President: 1933-1945

Just the Facts:

  •  His nickname was “FDR.”
  •  FDR was president for 13 years – the only president to serve more than 2 terms.
  •  He made many speeches on the radio, calling them “fireside chats.”
  •  He appointed the first woman to the cabinet.
  •  His wife, Eleanor, was the a powerful First Lady.  She was the first to hold her own press conferences – only women journalists were allowed to attend!
  •  FDR loved to sail and collect stamps.
  •  He was related to 11 other presidents!
  •  FDR had a dog, Fala, who was famous.


FDR was born into a wealthy family – President Theodore Roosevelt was his cousin.  He grew up in New York and followed the family tradition of attending the top schools in the country.  Then he practiced law in New York City before he went into politics.  He was a representative in the New York state legislature and governor of New York.  In addition, he worked in the federal government.


FDR became sick with polio when he was 39 years old.  He never walked on his own after that – instead he used either a cane or wheelchair.  He kept his disability a secret throughout most of his presidency, however.  When giving speeches, he would prop himself up by holding on to the podium.


FDR led America through the Great Depression and World War II.  He was known for his efforts to help the poor during the Great Depression – he called his policies “The New Deal.”  He got busy right away – signing 14 bills into law during his first 100 days of office!  He created programs that put people to work improving our roads and buildings, and imposed regulation on the banking system and stock market (Securities and Exchange Commission).  He also provided food for the hungry and unemployed and financial aid to farmers and elderly people (Social Security).  His programs helped America recover from the Great Depression.


FDR kept America out of the first few years of World War II.  Instead, he provided aid to England, to help it fight Nazi Germany.  He finally asked Congress to declare way after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  In that famous speech, he said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  Unfortunately, he didn’t live to see American victory in World War II.  He died while on vacation in Georgia just before the War ended.


FDR and Eleanor first met when they were 2 years old – they were very distant cousins.   In fact, Eleanor’s uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt, gave her away at their wedding.  Even thought she was born into a wealthy family, her childhood wasn’t very happy.  Both of Eleanor’s parents had died when before she was 10 years old and she was raised by her grandmother.  She spent much of her childhood reading books.


The Roosevelts had one daughter and five sons – Franklin Jr, Anna, James, Elliot, John and Franklin Jr. (the first Franklin Jr. died as a baby).  Eleanor was a very active First Lady – she traveled all over the country helping the poor, sick and elderly.  She was his eyes and ears around the country, since travel was hard for FDR. She even traveled to Europe to visit American soldiers.  Eleanor told FDR stories of the people she met so that he knew how much America was suffering and needed help from the government.


The more people First Lady Eleanor met, the more she wanted to help.  She wrote a newspaper column and held press conferences.  Eleanor also advocated for women’s rights.  She even hosted a free concert by a famous African American singer, Marian Anderson (It had to be outside on the Mall, since no auditorium in Washington DC would allow her to perform).

Famous Quotes


“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”

“If you treat people right they will treat you right… ninety percent of the time.”

“Confidence… thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.”

“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.”

August 5, 2014

Herbert Hoover

Our 31st President: 1929-1933

Just the Facts:

  •  Herbert Hoover was the first president born west of the Mississippi.
  •  His nickname was “The Great Engineer.”
  •  He refused to accept a salary while he was president.
  •  He graduated from Stanford University, despite failing a German language course.
  •  He designated the “Star Spangled Banner” as the national anthem.
  •  The “Hoover Dam” is named after him.
  •  He had many dogs as pets – - Piney, Snowflake, and Tut lived in the White House.  He also had a pet opossum and his son had 2 crocodiles.


Herbert was born in Iowa.  He became an orphan when he was nine and was raised by his uncle in Oregon.  He grew up as a Quaker.  He worked hard and made a lot of money in the mining industry.  Then, he went into public service during World War I, helping to evacuate American soldiers, ration food in America, and provide food to Europeans.  After the War, he was in charge of the American Relief Association, which helped millions of suffering Europeans every day.


He moved on to become Secretary of Commerce under Presidents Harding and Coolidge.  He oversaw some large public work projects, including a dam along the Colorado River that bears his name – the Hoover Dam.  The Hoover Dam provides water to most of the American Southwest (including southern California).  He was also in charge of the St. Lawrence Seaway project, which gave the Great Lakes access to the Atlantic Ocean.


Hoover became president by promising prosperity – “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”  He was President for only less than a year when the stock market crashed – October 29 has been called Black Tuesday ever since.  The crash was officially the start of the Great Depression.  Millions of people lost their jobs, banks closed, businesses failed.


The economy took most of his time, so he wasn’t able to accomplish some of his goals as president.  He tried to reform the banks and give assistance to businesses – but it wasn’t enough to pull America out of the Great Depression.  He didn’t think the government should give people handouts, so many people blamed him for their troubles.   As a result, he didn’t win re-election.


Hoover met his wife, Lou, in college (she was the only woman geology student at Stanford).  They had two sons, Herbert Jr. and Allan.  Lou was involved in the Girl Scouts organization most of her life – she was even elected president of the organization.  She also spoke several languages, including Chinese (which was helpful when she and Herbert lived there, before he was president).  The First Lady ran an elegant White House – she imported food and expected it to be prepared in only the best way. She also used a new invention, the radio, to connect with the American people.


After his presidency, the Hoovers retired to New York.  He continued trying to reform the government and wrote many books.  He died when he was 90 years old.

Famous Quotes


“Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.”

“Children are our most valuable natural resource.”

“When there is a lack of honor in government, the morals of the whole people are poisoned.”



August 4, 2014

Calvin Coolidge

Our 30th President: 1923-1929

Just the Facts:

  •  Calvin was born on July 4, our Independence Day.
  •  His full name is “John Calvin Coolidge.”
  •  He was a man of few words – a little shy and quiet.  But he did like practical jokes.
  •  His nickname was “Silent Cal.”
  •  The Coolidge family had lots of pets – over 10 dogs (one was named “Peter Pan”), cats, birds, a pet raccoon, a donkey, and a bobcat named “Smokey.” He even had a bear, wallaby and lion cubs.
  •  He was president during the “Roaring Twenties.”


Calvin was born in a small town in Vermont.   His father owned a store and he grew up learning the value of frugality and hard work.  He went to Amherst College in Massachusetts and then studied law.  Calvin opened his own law firm and then got involved in politics.  He started in city politics and was mayor of his hometown.  Then, he moved on to state politics – he was served in the state legislature and was elected governor of Massachusetts.  His first experience at national politics was to be elected as Harding’s vice president.


Coolidge became President when Harding died unexpectedly on a train tour of the country – he took the oath of office on his family bible in the middle of the night at his father’s farm in Vermont.  Coolidge ran for another term, and his slogan was “Keep Cool with Coolidge.”  He was president in between the two World Wars and led America into the modern era.


Coolidge cleaned up the government after the corruption of Harding’s administration.  In addition, Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act, which granted American citizenship to all Native Americans.  Coolidge believed in small government and didn’t want to regulate business.  He cut taxes, reduced the war debt and cut government spending.  In addition, he believed that the president should defer to Congress, which should hold most of the power in the federal government.


Calvin married Grace, who was a teacher for the deaf.  They had two sons, John and Calvin, Jr.  Calvin had a rocking chair on the porch of the White House and sat there almost every evening.  In addition, he exercised on an electric horse in the White House.


Grace was a social First Lady – she loved parties and remembered the names of everyone she met.  She was quoted as saying “People are my books.”  She entertained many famous people at the White House, including Helen Keller.


Calvin Jr, died of an infection during Coolidge’s presidency.  They was devastated and decided to not run for another term. He and Grace moved back to Massachusetts after his presidency was over and wrote an autobiography.  He died of a heart attack when he was 61 years old.

Famous Quotes 


“The chief business of America is business.”

“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”

“I have never been hurt by what I have not said.”

“It takes a great man to be a good listener.”

“There is no force so democratic as the force of an ideal.”

“Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.”


July 31, 2014

Warren Harding

Our 29th President: 1921-1923


Just the Facts:

  •  His nickname was “Wobbly Warren.”
  •  He was the first president to talk on the radio.
  •  He had so many clothes he had to have new closets built in the White House.
  •  He had the biggest feet of any president – size 14!
  •  Harding invented the word “normalcy” during his presidential campaign.
  •  He lost a whole set of White House china in a poker game.
  •  He liked to play golf.
  •  The First Lady kept canaries as pets.

His Life:  

Warren Harding was born and raised in a small town in Ohio.  His father owned a local newspaper and Warren learned about the business as a child.  After graduating from college, he tried a few different professions – he worked in law, was an insurance salesman.  Then, he got a job as a newspaper reporter and liked it.  Finally, he and some friends bought a local newspaper, the Marion Star.  The newspaper did well under his leadership.  He met a lot of important people when he owned the paper and some of them convinced him to go into politics.  He represented Ohio in Congress and then was nominated to run for President.

His Presidency:  

Harding was a friendly and easy going man – good qualities, but not necessarily what makes a good president.  He appointed his friends to positions within the government.  Unfortunately, some of those friends were just in it for the money – his administration was full of corruption and scandals.  By the time he realized this, it was too late to fix it.  The “Teapot Dome Scandal” was the most famous – one of Harding’s cabinet members was convicted of selling oil owned by the government and keeping the money.


Despite the scandals, Harding was able to accomplish some things.  For example, he establish the first organized effort to assist our war veterans – the Bureau of Veterans Affairs.  Thousands of men came back from World War I injured and needed medical care.  In addition, Harding appointed former president William Taft to the Supreme Court.

His Family: 

Warren married Florence (her nickname was “Flossie”) when he was a newspaper man – she was 5 years older than he.  Flossie loved to ride horses and play the piano, but she also got some business experience working in her father’s hardware store.  In fact, some people thought she was the brains behind Harding’s success.  Flossie was the first wife of a presidential candidate that was allowed to vote (because of the 19th Amendment).


The Hardings never had any children of their own, although they did raise Flossie’s son from a previous marriage.  While First Lady, people called her “The Duchess” because of the elegant parties she hosted at the White House.  She was an active First Lady, supporting issues such as women’s rights, animal rights, and the health and welfare of war veterans.


Famous Quotes

“I have no trouble with my enemies…but my friends, they’re the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights!”

“America’s present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration.”

“Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time do for it too little.”



July 30, 2014

Woodrow Wilson

Our 28th President: 1913-1921

Just the Facts:

  •   His full name was “Thomas Woodrow Wilson.”
  •  Wilson had pet sheep that grazed on the White House lawn.
  •  Wilson liked being President of the United States.
  •  He was the first president to have a PhD.
  •  He was president when the 19th Amendment was passed, which gave women the right to vote.
  •  His nickname was “Schoolmaster of Politics.”
  •  He was the first president to cross the Atlantic Ocean while in office.

His Life:  

Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia and moved around the South as a child.  He was sickly as a child and had bad vision – he didn’t learn to read until he was nine years old!  He went on to graduate from Princeton University.  He practiced law for a while but became bored and missed the academic life.  So, he went back to school and earned a PhD in political science.  Then he went on to teach at various universities and eventually became the President of Princeton University.  He had always been interested in politics and was elected as Governor of New Jersey.  He was so popular that he decided to run for president.

His Presidency:  

Wilson led us through World War I.  He actually tried to keep us out of the war but was unsuccessful.  For the first few years of the European war, both sides wanted America to join them but Wilson insisted that America was neutral.  Then, the Germans attached a number of American ships and sank the British steamer named Lusitania.


Wilson was forced to act.  Americans joined the fight against Germany.  Partway through the War, he gave a speech to Congress that outlined his Fourteen Points for going to war.  After the war was over, Wilson traveled to Paris to negotiate the peace treaty – it was called the “Treaty of Versailles.”  Wilson included many of his Fourteen Points, including a League of Nations that would keep the peace between countries.  He was crushed when the Senate didn’t approve the Treaty.  Wilson received the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts regarding world peace after World War I.


Wilson suffered a stroke shortly after returning from Europe.  As a result, parts of his body were paralyzed and he was blind.  First Lady Edith helped him with his presidential duties – she screened all his papers and decided which were important enough to bring to Wilson.  Some people criticized her to taking over so much of the president’s duties.


His Family: 

Woodrow married his first wife, Ellen, when he was 31 years old.  They had 3 daughters – Margaret, Jessie and Eleanor.  Ellen loved literature and art – she even helped Woodrow with his speeches sometimes.  Unfortunately, Ellen died in 1914 during Wilson’s first term as president.


A year later, Wilson married Edith.  After World War I was over, we traveled across Europe to promote Wilson’s League of Nations.  It was the first time that a First Lady went on a trip to another country.  Wilson retired to a Washington DC suburb after his term ended.  He died three years after his president term ended.

Famous Quotes


“Life does not consist in thinking, it consists in acting.”

“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”

“Liberty has never come from Government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it.”

“The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome. All that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them.”


July 29, 2014

William Taft

Our 27th President: 1909-1913

Just the Facts:

  •   His nickname was “Big Bill.”  In fact, he weighed over 300 pounds when he was president.
  •  Once he got stuck in the White House bathtub.  After that, he had a larger tub installed just for him.
  •  He loved baseball – to watch it, play it and talk about it.
  •  He was the first President to throw the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game.
  •  He is the only man to serve as both President and Chief Justice.
  •  He was the first President to have an official car.

His Life:  

William was born into a prominent family and grew up in the “Queen City” – Cincinnati, Ohio.  He graduated top of his class at Yale University and went on to get his law degree.  He was extraordinarily smart and had a great legal mind.  Before becoming president, he held a number of government positions – he was a judge on the US Court of Appeals, he was both Attorney General and Governor of the Philippines under President McKinley, and was Secretary of War under President Roosevelt.  Taft and Roosevelt were great friends and Roosevelt convinced him to run for president after him.

His Presidency:  

Taft wasn’t particularly happy as president.  He was a great administrator, but didn’t like the “politics.”  Taft continued Roosevelt’s progressive policies like “trust-busting” and land conservation in his own way.  But, in general he was more conservative and questioned how much power the president should have.  Taft’s foreign policy was called “Dollar Diplomacy” – he used financial aid to countries as a way of gaining allies and gaining world power.


Roosevelt wasn’t happy with some of Taft’s policies and ran against him in the 1913 presidential election.  They both lost.  Taft’s life dream came true after his presidency ended.  He was appointed as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court – the highest court in America!  So, he was in charge of 2 out of the 3 branches of government during his life – the executive branch when he was president, and in charge of the judicial branch when he was chief justice.  He used his power as chief justice to reform the court system.

His Family: 

William married Nellie in 1886.  When Nellie was a child, she visited the White House and loved the excitement of Washington DC.  When she met William, she was working as a schoolteacher.  She enthusiastically supported his political goals and welcomed every challenge, including moving her family to the Philippines.


Unfortunately, Nellie suffered a stroke two months after Taft’s inauguration.  She recovered and became famous for her social events and elegant parties.   Nellie Taft oversaw the planting of thousands of cherry trees along the Potomac River in Washington DC – they were all a gift from Japan.  She also had the White House stables converted to a garage for their car.

Famous Quotes


“Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.”

“A government is for the benefit of all the people.”

“We are all imperfect. We can not expect perfect government.”

“Failure to accord credit to anyone for what he may have done is a great weakness in any man.”

“Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.”


July 28, 2014

Theodore Roosevelt

Our 26th President: 1901-1909

Just the Facts:


  •  Teddy bears were named after him.
  •  He was our youngest president ever – sworn in at age 42.
  •  His nickname was “TR.”  When he was a child, his nickname was “Teedie.”
  •  He was the first “modern president.”
  •  He loved the great outdoors and needed strenuous activity each day.
  •  He is our only president to come from New York City.
  •  The Roosevelt children had more pets in the White House than any other family.
  •  Roosevelt was quoted as saying “No President has ever enjoyed himself as much as I” – he loved the job!

His Life:  

Theodore Roosevelt was born into a wealthy family in New York City.  He was prone to illness as a child, and his father tried to help him get stronger with a rigorous physical activity program. Teddy remained physically active the rest of his life and grew to love all kinds of sports.  He was sent to the best schools, graduating from Harvard and Columbia Universities.  He received a law degree and knew that he wanted to go into politics.  He also loved history and wrote quite a few books.


Teddy served in the New York state legislature and was elected Governor of New York.  He was also police commissioner for New York City and worked hard to change the corruption that was common in politics at the time.  He serve in the Spanish American War, as part of the Rough Riders calvary regiment.  He became a national hero.  In between his public positions, Roosevelt spent some time out west working on a ranch that he owned in the Dakota Territory.

His Presidency:  

Theodore Roosevelt became president when McKinley died from his gunshot wounds.  He was considered a “progressive” and brought a lot of energy and new ideas into the White House.  His domestic policies were called the “Square Deal” – he used the power of the government to deal with the problems of the new industrial society.  For example, he broke up companies that had become so big they controlled an industry (therefore charged consumers any price they wanted).  He also helped to resolve labor strikes.  Because of his love for the outdoors, Roosevelt worked hard to grow our national park system, preserving millions of acres and creating our first wildlife refuge.


Roosevelt helped to establish America as a world power. He received a Nobel Peace Prize for his foreign policy work as president – he helped to negotiate peace between Japan and Russia.   He was the first statesman to receive the famous honor.  His foreign policy motto was “speak softly and carry a big stick” – which meant to use diplomacy that is backed up with our military might.  He was also instrumental in building the Panama Canal.


His Family: 

He married Ann when he was 26 years old  She died shortly after giving birth to their daughter, Alice.  Years later, he married his childhood friend, Edith.  They had a happy marriage and had six children (Theodore Jr, Archibald, Alice, Ethel, Kermit and Quentin).


While Edith was First Lady, she oversaw a large renovation of the White House – the West Wing was built and the living quarters were updated.  Edith also created the portrait gallery of First Ladies.


The Roosevelt family brought laughter and energy into the White House – kids roller-skated down the hallways, had pillow fights, and played football on the White House lawn.  They had so many pets that he White House looked like a zoo – dogs, cats, parrots, guinea pigs, snakes, mice, raccoons, badgers, and a Shetland pony.  They even brought their pony, Algonquin, up the elevator and into their brother’s room to cheer him up when he was sick.

Famous Quotes


“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

“With self-discipline most anything is possible.”

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

“I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!”

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”

July 24, 2014

William McKinley

Our 25th President: 1897-1901

Just the Facts:

  •  McKinley was the last of the Ohio president dynasty (5 presidents in 28 years!)
  •  He was the first president to ride in a car.
  •  He had a pet parrot (its name was “Washington Post.”)
  •  His inauguration was the first to be recorded on film.
  •  He thought red carnations were his “good luck charm.” He often wore them in the button hold of his jacket. He was very formal and wore a black suit, satin tie, gloves and top hat everyday.
  •  His picture is on the $500 bill (you probably will never see one, since they haven’t been printed since 1934).


William McKinley was born in Ohio (sound familiar?).  He and his 8 siblings grew up on a farm and he spent his days outside fishing, riding horses, and swimming.  He attended public school, then prep school, then one year of college.  Unfortunately, his family lost their savings in the Panic of 1857 and he returned home to become a teacher and help his family.  He volunteered to served in the Civil War, and rose from a private to a major.  After the Civil War was over, he decided to become a lawyer.  He moved to Canton, Ohio to practice law.  Before long, he entered politics.  Before running for President, William served as a county prosecutor, Ohio governor, and represented Ohio in Congress.


President McKinley led America through the Spanish-American War.  It all started when an American warship was sunk by the Spanish off the coast of Cuba.  It was one of America’s shortest wars – lasting only six months.  As a result of winning that war, America acquired land such as Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam.  For the first time, America was taken seriously as a world power.  During his term, President also annexed the Hawaiian Islands (we didn’t take Hawaii by force, it was by agreement the Hawaiian government and America.


When McKinley ran for re-election, he asked a young politician from New York to be his Vice-President – none other than Theodore Roosevelt.  Sadly, President McKinley was assassinated shortly after his second term began.  It happened while he was attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York (otherwise known as a “world fair”).  He reached out to shake a man’s hand and the man shot him twice instead (Leon Frank Czolgosz was an anarchist, who believed the world would be a better place with no governments at all).  He was so kind that he told his guards to not hurt the man who shot him.  He died 8 days later.



William married Ida when he was 28 years old.  They had two daughters – Katherine and Ida.  Unfortunately, baby Ida died before her first birthday and Katherine died as a young child from typhoid fever.  Ida was never the same after that – she became quite frail and depressed and developed epilepsy.


When Ida became First Lady, she asked that anything “yellow” in the White House be removed, even flowers in the garden (she disliked the color that much).  She spent a lot of time crocheting while First Lady – she donated 3,500 pairs of slippers to charity!

Famous Quotes 


“The free man cannot be long an ignorant man.”

“That’s all a man can hope for during his lifetime – to set an example – and when he is dead, to be an inspiration for history.”

“War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed.”





July 23, 2014

Benjamin Harrison

23rd President: 1889-1893

Just the Facts:


  •  The White House got electricity during his term.
  •  He kept pet goats at the White House – they would even pull his grandchildren around in a cart.
  •  His nickname was “The Iceberg,” because people thought he was cold, formal and snooty.
  •  Grover Cleveland was president before AND after him.
  •  His favorite foods were oysters, corn, and soup.
  •  He had more brothers and sisters than any other president.



Benjamin was from a famous political family – his great-grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence, his grandfather was the 9th president, and his father was a Senator.  He was born in Ohio and grew up, with his 11 siblings, on a farm that was purchased by his famous grandfather.  He spent many of his childhood days outside fishing and hunting.


Benjamin was a good student – he attended a country one-room schoolhouse before going on to college.  After graduating, he studied law and opened his own practice in Indianapolis.  He was a rising star and was elected to the Indiana Supreme Court.  But then the Civil War started and he enlisted.  He was a brave soldier and rose to the ranks of General.  He decided to enter politics and ran for governor of Indiana – he lost two times.  Finally, he represented Indiana in Congress before running for president.


President Harrison didn’t stand out as a president, but he did get quite a bit accomplished.  For example, he signed the Sherman Antitrust Act, which basically said that “honest competition is good” – corporations shouldn’t get so big that they control an entire industry and the consumer looses the benefit of competition.  The Sherman Act is still an important part of corporate law today.


In addition, the Oklahoma Territory opened to white settlers during his term, which resulted in a great rush to claim free land under the Homestead Act.  In addition, 6 states were added during his presidency – Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming.  The story goes that there was such a rivalry between North and South Dakota, that he shuffled the papers on his desk before signing, so no one knows which was admitted as a state first.



Benjamin met his wife, Caroline, in school.  They had [two] [three] three children – Russell, Mary and Elizabeth.  While First Lady, Caroline designed the first official presidential china and started collecting china for the White House.  She also liked to paint, play the piano and grow orchids.  She also raised money for Johns Hopkins Medical School after they promised to admit women to their classes.  Unfortunately, Caroline died while Harrison was president.


Even though he spent time in bustling cities throughout his life, Harrison always claimed to love the slower life of small towns.  Benjamin died of pneumonia in his home when he was 68 years old.

Famous Quotes 


“Great lives never go out; they go on.”

“Unlike many other people less happy, we give our devotion to a government, to its Constitution, to its flag, and not to men.”