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Monday, February 20, 2006

Presidents' Day

If you should ever go on the television show JEOPARDY!, one of the areas you should try to learn involve the Presidents: the years they were elected, the years they served (with the exception of Washington's first term, always the following year), their state of residence (and if different, of birth) and their rank order.

1. Washington- 2 terms, they love references to his first Lady, the widow Martha Custiss
2. J. Adams- 1 term, first in the White House (1800)
3. Jefferson-2 terms, Washington's Secretary of State, Louisiana Purchase
4. Madison-2 terms, Jefferson's Secretary of State
5. Monroe-2 terms, Madison's Secretary of State
6. J.Q. Adams-1 term, race settled by the House of Representatives, Monroe's Secretary of State, returned to serve in the House and died there
7. Jackson-2 terms, his mansion was the Hermitage, near Nashville
8. Van Buren-1 term, Jackson's Secretary of State
9. W.H. Harrison-1 month, "Old Tippecanoe", longest inaugural address, 1st to die in office.
Well, you get the idea.

So, it's WH Harrison (one month), Tyler (completed term), Polk (one term), Taylor (about two years), Fillmore (completed term), Pierce (one term), and Buchanan (one term) between 1841 and 1861 - and this from...memory! When I learned the presidents, this was the hardest stretch. Did you know there were four Whig Presidents, and they served a total of 8 years? (Harrison/Tyler/Taylor/Fillmore).

As I heard ad nauseum after the JFK assassination, Lincoln and JFK were elected in '60, died in office, had VPs named Johnson who succeeded them.

There was a Final JEOPARDY! question once about the three Presidents in 1881: Hayes, Garfield, Arthur. 1841 and 1881 were the only two years with three Presidents.

I wrote this segment of a movie/play in my head once where a person was captured by the bad guys and was interrogated. He was asked who was the President, and his predecessor, etc. This guy was able to list them all the way back to Washington. The bad guys then shot him: "Must be a spy. NOBODY knows that stuff." Turns out our victim was a teacher of American history. Oops.

I'm guessing there will be a question soon about that expensive painting by Peale, GW at Princeton.

If you want other like things to study, learn the First Ladies, the Vice-Presidents (FDR had three). And if you should get chosen to be on the show, let me know if you would like some other pointers.

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