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QUIZ: 10 things you didn’t know about US presidents

To celebrate Thomas Jefferson Day, history professor Thomas McInerney poses some fun brain-teasers about our great (and sometimes ghastly) leaders.

April 13, 2017

By Cory Phare

[NOTE: Answers are at the bottom.]

1. Who gave the longest inauguration speech ever (more than 90 minutes) on a wet day, then subsequently fell ill and died 33 days into his presidency?

A. William Henry Harrison
B. Martin Van Buren
C. James K. Polk

2. Which presidential candidate was shot while giving a speech, proclaiming: “I give you my word, I do not care a rap about being shot!” then finished his long, drawling performance with a bullet lodged in his chest?

A. William McKinley
B. William Howard Taft
C. Theodore Roosevelt

Dollar bill

3. Which presidential couple, having previously lived in China, spoke Mandarin in the White House when they wanted to have a private conversation?

A. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt
B. Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover
C. Warren and Florence Harding

4. Which unlikely looking figure was actually a superbly skilled wrestler, winning all but one of around 300 competitive contests?

A. William Henry Harrison
B. Abraham Lincoln
C. Andrew Johnson

President statues

5. Which superstitious leader was so afraid of the number 13 that he outright refused to dine with that number of people or leave for a trip on the 13th of any month?

A. Franklin D. Roosevelt
B. Herbert Hoover
C. Harry S. Truman

6. Who survived two assassination attempts – both by women – within the space of 17 days?

A. Dwight D. Eisenhower
B. Jimmy Carter
C. Gerald R. Ford

President Eisenhower

7. Which leader taught his pet parrot to curse so effectively that it later had to be removed from its owner's grand funeral because it wouldn’t stop swearing at attendees?

A. James Monroe
B. Andrew Jackson
C. John Quincy Adams

8. Which very famous politician – a towering figure in American history – hated public speaking so much he managed only two speeches during his entire presidency?

A. George Washington
B. Thomas Jefferson
C. Ulysses S. Grant

President toy figures

9. Which slightly dubious president adopted his friend’s 11-year-old orphaned daughter then married her in the White House just 10 years later, making her the youngest ever First Lady?

A. Chester Arthur
B. Benjamin Harrison
C. Grover Cleveland

10. Which President was reputedly so taciturn and unexpressive that, when he died, the acerbic writer Dorothy Parker asked: "How can they tell?"

A. Calvin Coolidge
B. Charles Dawes
C. Herbert Hoover

Answers: 1. (A) 2. (C) 3. (B) 4. (B) 5. (A) 6. (C) 7. (B) 8. (B) 9. (C) 10. (A)

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