February 20 is Presidents Day–officially Washington’s birthday–and what better way to celebrate than with some presidential trivia! You may have aced round 1 in 20 Questions: U.S. Presidential Trivia Quiz, but below are twenty more trivia questions to test your POTUS knowledge.
- Which president served in Congress after his time in office and suffered a fatal stroke on the floor of the House Chamber?
- Which president was the first to be sworn in by his nickname?
- Perhaps due to chronic depression, this president is said to have slept up to 11 hours a day and always took an afternoon nap lasting at least 1-2 hours?
- Famed inventor Alexander Graham Bell tried to save the life of this president after he was shot by an assassin?
- According to his wishes, this president was buried wrapped in the American flag and his head rested on a copy of the U.S. Constitution?
- Which president worked to save football from being banned in the United States?
- Which president changed the name of the presidential mountain retreat Shangri-La to Camp David, after his grandson?
- Which president took the oath of office in his own home?
- Out of the five presidents to have worn a beard, this president is purported to have had the longest?
- Which president was a Rhodes Scholar?
- Mark Twain facilitated the publication of the autobiography of this president that was published the same year in the United States as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?
- Sixteen years after leaving office, this president was elected to serve in the Confederate House of Representatives?
- Who was the only man to be elected twice as U.S. Vice President and twice as President of the United States?
- Before Ronald Reagan, this president was the first to be featured in a dramatic film?
- Which president has long been labeled a self-proclaimed lover of pickles based on a quote falsely attributed to him?
- In 1934, the image of this president was printed on the $100,000 bill, the highest denomination ever issued by the U.S. federal government?
- Nathanial Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter and other American classics, died while on a leisure trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire with this president?
- Influenced by the ‘Egyptomania’ craze of the 1920s, this president named his pet King Tut?
- Which president, along with several members of his cabinet and a few congressmen, pitched in to put out a disastrous fire at the Library of Congress?
- One of America’s most well known American poems by Walt Whitman begins:
O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every track
The prize we sought is won.
In this poem, Whitman’s captain is this president?
1. Which president served in Congress after his time in office and suffered a fatal stroke on the floor of the House Chamber?
John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), 6th President.
Born under British rule, the son of a President, and a President himself, Adams capped off his career by serving 18 years in Congress. On February 21, 1848, after one of the first votes of the day, Adams was at his seat in the House Chamber when he collapsed having suffered from a massive stroke. Adams was taken into the Rotunda and placed on a sofa in front of the east door in the hope that fresh air would revive him. Seeing no improvement, however, Adams was next taken into the speaker’s office where he died two days later. His memorable last words–“This is the last of earth, but I am composed.”
2. Which president was the first president to be sworn in by his nickname?
Jimmy Carter (1924- ), 39th President.
Born James Earl Carter Jr., he was sworn in as “Jimmy,” which made him the first and the only president (so far) to be sworn in by his nickname.
3. Perhaps due to chronic depression, this president is said to have slept up to 11 hours a day and always took an afternoon nap lasting at least 1-2 hours?
Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), 30th President.
Coolidge had a penchant for hour long naps after lunch, a habit that earned him amused scorn from his contemporaries. But when the prescient missed a nap, he would fall asleep in afternoon meetings. Some political scientists argue that Coolidge’s affinity for sleep became more extreme after the death of his son, Calvin Jr., in 1924 during the first year of his presidency. The president’s slumbering expanded into a pre-lunchtime nap, a 2-3 hour post-lunch nap, and 11 hours of shut-eye a night.
4. Famed inventor Alexander Graham Bell tried to save the life of this president after he was shot by an assassin?
James A. Garfield (1831-1881), 20th President.
On July 2, 1881, President Garfield was shot in the back by an assassin in a train station in Washington, DC. The president lingered, his condition wavering until he died on September 19. During the course of the months-long ordeal, Alexander Graham Bell who was working at a lab in DC at the time, was appalled by the daily drama unfolding in newspapers. The president’s physician, Dr. D. W. Bliss (whose given first name was “Doctor”), was obsessed with probing Garfield’s wound in order to extract the bullet from his body. Bell thought to develop a metal detecting device that could find the bullet so that Bliss could remove it more easily. On July 26, Bell made his first attempt to find the bullet, but ran into problems. He tinkered with the device and returned to the White House on August 1. His search for the bullet was now hampered by Bliss, who was convinced that the bullet was located somewhere on the right side of Garfield’s torso, and refused to entertain any notions to the contrary. Bell was not able to find the bullet with his metal detector because he was looking in the wrong place. When the president’s body was autopsied, it was found that the bullet had lodged on the left side of Garfield’s chest, exactly opposite of where Bliss had contended it was.
5. According to his wishes, this president was buried wrapped in the American flag and his head rested on a copy of the U.S. Constitution?
Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), 17th President.
Johnson died on July 31, 1875, in Tennessee. According to his wishes, a small funeral was held in the Masonic tradition (Johnson had become a Master Mason in 1851), taking place under a willow tree that the president had planted himself from a slip of a willow tree at the grave of Napoleon on the Island of Saint Helena. He was buried on his land (now Andrew Johnson National Cemetery) wrapped in the American flag made of silk with his copy of the U.S. Constitution placed under his head as he requested.
6. Which president worked to save football from being banned in the United States?
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President.
At the turn of the 20th century, America’s gridirons were brutal. Armed with little protective equipment, football players suffered gruesome injuries and even death. In 1904 there were 18 fatalities reported during that one season alone. Reports of all the bloodshed led to an outcry for reform or abolishment of the game. The crisis became such an issue that President Roosevelt got involved. Roosevelt had long been an enthusiastic supporter of football, but acknowledged that reform was needed. His son Theodore Jr. then played on the Harvard freshman team so he had a personal interest in reforming the game as well.
Fresh off the heels of negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War, Roosevelt met with head coaches and representatives of premier colleges–Harvard, Yale, Princeton–at the White House on October 9, 1905, urging them to curb excessive violence in football. The schools in return released a statement condemning brutality and pledged to keep the game clean and fair. Yet fatalities mounted throughout the 1905 season in what the Chicago Daily Tribune called a “death harvest.” The following season, major universities–Columbia, Northwestern, Duke–dropped football, and Harvard hinted that it would be next. Roosevelt again invited leading football authorities and school leaders to the White House in the offseason, pushing for radical rule changes in lieu of abolishing the game. An intercollegiate conference (the precursor to the NCAA), approved a set of rules changed for the 1906 season, such as legalizing the forward pass, abolishment of mass formations, and creating a neutral zone between offense and defense. The changes did not eliminate all the dangers, but fatalities and injuries greatly declined. A spike in fatalities in 1909 led to another round of reforms that laid the foundation of modern football.
7. Which president changed the name of the presidential mountain retreat Shangri-La to Camp David, after his grandson?
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1960), 34th President.
Camp David, a retreat used by the President of the United States, is nestled in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains. The facility was originally built in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration as a camp for government employees and was later taken over by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who named it “Shangri-La” in reference to the mountain kingdom in the novel Lost Horizon (1933). When Eisenhower took office in 1953, he planned to close the mountain compound and divest the government of other “needless luxuries.” However, Attorney General Herbert Brownell petitioned to keep the retreat and after a visit by Eisenhower, the president agreed. Eisenhower renamed it “Camp David” after his then five-year-old grandson, Dwight David Eisenhower, II.
8. Which president took the oath of office in his own home?
Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886), 21st President.
When President James Garfield succumbed to his wounds from an assassin’s bullet on September 19, 1881, Vice President Arthur was at his home in New York City. In the early morning hours of September 20, Arthur took the oath of office as the 21st president of the United States in a private ceremony at his home, a four-story brownstone townhouse on Lexington Avenue.
9. Out of the five presidents to have worn a beard, this president is purported to have had the longest?
Rutherford B. Hayes (1882-1893), 19th President.
Hayes was the third bearded president (preceded by presidents Lincoln and Grant) and reportedly donned the longest. Below are side-by-side portraits of all five bearded presidents so you can make your own assessment.
10. Which president was a Rhodes Scholar?
Bill Clinton (1946- ), 42nd President.
In 1968, Clinton received the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship from Oxford University. While at Oxford, he studied law and was active in student life, particularly protests against the Vietnam War.
11. Mark Twain facilitated the publication of the autobiography of this president that was published the same year in the United States as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?
Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), 18th President.
The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant was published as a two-volume set starting in late 1885. It was written during Grant’s last year of life while he battled terminal throat cancer and was deep in personal bankruptcy. Grant had first agreed to write articles on the Civil War for Century Magazine and he almost went with The Century Company to publish his memoirs. Mark Twain, Grant’s personal friend, heard about the deal and approached the former president about it. Appalled by the paltry royalty sums offered in the Century Company contract, Twain convinced Grant to go with Charles L. Webster and Co. for a higher percentage of profits and a vigorous subscription system to increase sales. Charles Webster was Twain’s nephew-in-law and the company had recently been founded by Twain to publish his own books, so Twain was in essence Grant’s publisher, as well as his friend.
Twain was one of several people who read page proofs, suggested edits, and encouraged Grant in his herculean effort to finish the manuscript. Twain claimed his edits were largely grammatical, and commented on how little Grant’s writing needed revision.
Grant’s memoirs published not long after his death and were both a commercial and critical success. Julia Grant (to whom the rights to the book were assigned) received the largest royalty check issued at that time. The memoirs then and now are routinely ranked among the best ever written, and certainly among memoirs written by U.S. presidents.
12. Sixteen years after leaving office, this president was elected to serve in the Confederate House of Representatives?
John Tyler (1790-1862), 10th President.
Tyler was a slaveholder and Democrat who supported states’ rights and limited government. In the early 1830s, however, he broke with Andrew Jackson over what he viewed as an alarming increase in federal power. Tyler joined the Whig Party and won the vice presidency in 1840 on the ticket with William Henry Harrison. When Harrison died in April 1841, Tyler became the first vice president to assume office after the death of the commander and chief. As president, his support of states’ rights clashed philosophically with his party’s belief in a stronger government, and it nearly caused the collapse of his administration. While Tyler did have some successes as president in terms of foreign affairs (i.e. the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842), the Whigs had expelled him from the party in 1841 and he was quite unpopular when he left the White House in 1845.
On the eve of the American Civil War, when the secession crisis intensified, Tyler presided over the ill-fated Peace Conference of 1861 in an attempt to avoid armed conflict. He served as a delegate to the Virginia convention that addressed the state’s response to the crisis and he ultimately voted for secession in April that year. The following November, Tyler won the election to the Confederate House of Representatives, but he died on January 18, 1862 before his term began.
13. Who was the only man to be elected twice as U.S. Vice President and twice as President of the United States?
Richard Nixon (1913-1994), 37th President.
Nixon served as Vice President to President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953-1961 and was elected President in both 1969 and 1972.
14. Before Ronald Reagan, this president was the first to be featured in a dramatic film?
Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), 22nd and 24th President.
Cleveland has the distinction of being the first president to appear, however brief, in a dramatic film. In 1895, Alexander Black (1859–1940), an American photographer, former newspaper man, and the inventor of the pre-cinema “Picture Play,” approached Cleveland to appear in his film. The president agreed and starred in the silent film A Capital Courtship (1896), a photoplay in which he was filmed signing a bill into law.
In September 1896, William McKinley reenacted his acceptance of the presidential nomination in a short silent film designed by the new American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. Some argue that this is the earliest footage of an American president. Technically, however, McKinley had not yet been elected to the presidency at the time, while then sitting president Cleveland’s film debuted in December that same year.
15. Which president has long been labeled a self-proclaimed lover of pickles based on a quote falsely attributed to him?
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd President.
“On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.” You will find this quote in books, articles, and on websites attributed to Thomas Jefferson going back decades, yet Jefferson never actually said it. Thomas Jefferson, much like other larger-than-life historical figures–Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill–is often labeled with fake or misattributed quotes. According to the Jefferson Library at Monticello, Jefferson never said the pickle quote. The earliest reference to the quote comes from a 1922 speech by William Clendenin, an early advertising/publicity man, extolling the benefits of pickles.
16. In 1934, the image of this president was printed on the $100,000 bill, the highest denomination ever issued by the U.S. federal government?
Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), 28th President.
In 1933, the world was in a depression that was characterized by massive deflation. President Franklin Roosevelt issued an Executive Order, telling Americans to surrender their gold to the government because no one was buying anything in cash. Gold hoarding and bartering were also reducing the amount of funds flowing into the government. Because Roosevelt had agreed to bail out the banks during the Great Depression, it was bad news for currency control, so the president proposed the U.S. Treasury take over the Federal Reserve’s gold supplies. The idea was that once the federal government controlled all the gold, it could better enforce its plan to devalue the dollar thus reflating the economy. Federal Chairman Gene Black was sympathetic but wary. He advised the decision be left to Congress. Congress took up the measure in January 1934 and the measure passed on Jan. 31. The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 set a new federal exchange rate for gold at $34, but only for the purposes of foreign exchange. It also allowed the Treasury to print bills for the Federal Reserve’s gold, one of which was $100,000 with Woodrow Wilson’s face on it.
17. Nathanial Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter and other American classics, died while on a leisure trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire with this president?
Franklin Pierce (1804-1869), 14th President.
Pierce and Hawthorne became fast friends when they both attended Bowdoin College. Their friendship deepened over the years and when Pierce became president in 1853, he gave Hawthorne the job of U.S. consul in Liverpool, a highly prized and well-paid position at the time.
Pierce struggled as president and was an unpopular figure, mostly because of his pro-slavery views. He found it difficult to accomplish anything in the White House and by the time his term ended in 1857, he had even lost the support of his own party. While in England, Hawthorne wrote a book of essays entitled Our Old Home (1863) and dedicated it to Pierce. Hawthorne’s publisher begged him not dedicate the book to the former President fearing that it would sink its sales, but Hawthorne refused. The dedication did end up angering some people, including Ralph Waldo Emerson who is said to have ripped the dedication page off before adding the book to his library.
By 1864, Hawthorne was ill and he asked Pierce to accompany him on a trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire with the hopes it would improve his health. On May 18, 1864, the writer and former president stopped at the Pemigewasset Hotel in Plymouth, NH for the night. After dinner and a cup of tea, Hawthorne retired to bed–and never woke up. Pierce found his friend’s body in the middle of the night and recounted the event in a letter to his sister.
“It is a singular and happy circumstance,” wrote the New York Herald, “that friends who have lived so many years upon terms of unrestricted intimacy as Franklin Pierce and Nathaniel Hawthorne should in the final hours of one still be so near to the other as to enable the survivor to hear, as it were, the last whisper of his friend as entered the portals of eternity.”
18. Influenced by the ‘Egyptomania’ craze of the 1920s, this president named his pet King Tut?
Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), 31st President.
In the early 1920s, archaeologist Howard Carter was exploring Egypt’s Valley of the Kings where the pharaohs were buried, and he unearthed the tomb of King Tutankhamun. The news made headlines across the U.S. and Egyptomania–a craze for all things Egyptian–was born. The Hoovers received King Tut, a Belgian Malinois breed, from a friend around 1922. They brought the dog with them to the White House when President Hoover was inaugurated in 1929, but Tut was so unhappy the Hoovers sent him back to the former S Street home, which had been rented by Connecticut Congressman Frederic Walcott and his family.
19. Which president, along with several members of his cabinet and a few congressmen, pitched in to put out a disastrous fire at the Library of Congress?
Millard Fillmore (1800-1874), 13th President.
On Christmas Eve morning in 1851, President Millard Fillmore, who had been enjoying the holidays with his family, heard the DC fire chiefs call “Fire! Fire! The Library of Congress is on fire.” He and several of his cabinet members, as well as other congressmen, including Speaker of the House Linn Boyd, rushed to pitch in to help. Despite their best efforts, the fire destroyed 55,000 volumes, including two-thirds of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, which had been sold to the institution in 1815 to rebuild the original library after it had been burned by the British the year before. Following the devastation, President Fillmore, a lover of books and reading, pushed Congress to appropriate funds to rebuild the Library of Congress.
20. One of America’s most well known American poems by Walt Whitman begins:
O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every track
The prize we sought is won.
In this poem, Whitman’s captain is this president?
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th President.
O Captain! My Captain! is a metaphorical poem written by Whitman in 1865 about the death of Abraham Lincoln. The poem itself is about a captain who dies just as his ship reached the end of a stormy and dangerous voyage. The captain represents Lincoln who was assassinated just as the Civil War was ending.
- Search Chronicling America* to find more coverage of U.S. Presidents in historical newspapers and more!
- Check out Chronicling America Topics Pages on related topics such as presidential elections, administrations, and assassinations.
- Read related Headlines & Heroes blog posts:
20 Questions: U.S. Presidential Trivia Quiz
Intriguing Facts About Presidential Inaugurations Past
Christmas With the Presidents
It’s a Nice Day for a White (House) Wedding
* The Chronicling America historic newspapers online collection is a product of the National Digital Newspaper Program and jointly sponsored by the Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Follow Chronicling America on Twitter @ChronAmLOC
Click here to subscribe to Headlines & Heroes–it’s free!