Facts about Presidents

I’ve added a new page, “Facts about Presidents.” It’s meant to be a handy source for readers who are interested in such things as the age of a president upon taking office, the length of time lived after leaving office, place of birth, religious affiliation, and more.

There you will find the birth names of the presidents, many of which differ from the names by which they are known. For example, no president to date has been known as a “Junior,” yet nine were and are a “Junior” (in fact if not in name) and two others — Obams and Clinton — are entitled to letter suffixes: II and III, respectively. In sum, 11 of the 43 men who served as president were named after their fathers, which suggests that a key source of political ambition is a felt need to “prove” oneself. There is further evidence for that hypothesis: Three presidents not entitled to a post-nominal suffix also felt the need to at least equal the achievements of their fathers and grandfather: John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams; Benjamin Harrison, grandson of William Henry Harrison; and George W. Bush, son of George H.W. Bush.

Did you know that John F. Kennedy — who became president on January 20, 1961 — was 26.62 years younger than his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower? That’s the largest age drop on record, and you’ll find the numbers in the second part of the three-part table of facts. Another factoid from the same part of the table: The largest age jump occurred on January 20, 1981, when James E. Carter was replaced by Ronald W. Reagan, who was 13.65 older than Carter.

Name changes? Several. Grant and Eisenhower ended up with different first and middle names than the ones they were born with. Adoptees Ford and Clinton ended up with different last names, and Ford’s was changed completely. Cleveland, Wilson, and Coolidge didn’t go by the first names given them at birth, preferring their more distinctive — and now old-fashioned — middle names.

Speaking of middle names, the first eight presidents had none. Theodore Roosevelt (president 1901-9) was the last president to lack one, though Harry Truman’s was just letter S.

There’s much more. Enjoy!