1. William Henry Harrison, at 68, was the oldest president to be elected until Reagan came along. He was also dead on his 32nd day in office, making him the shortest tenured president ever. He died of a really bad cold. I’m sorry, but that just sucks. If only they had doctors back then. My impression is that they had people like the Three Stooges practicing medicine. Usually, large mallets and drills were used to treat almost every malady. For colds, they would wrap you in a blanket, stick you in front of a fire, and give you a slug of whiskey.
And back then you could just become a doctor. There was no license or qualifications. If you had a sign that said “Doctor,” you stuck it out your front door and voila, you were a mallet wielding healthcare professional. But the most fascinating thing about Harrison is that he was one-half of the greatest marketing slogan in campaign history. He was Tippecanoe of Tippecanoe and Tyler Too fame. They won in a landslide and Tyler went on to become president after Harrison died. Tippecanoe referred to a big battle that Harrison won while he was general in some war or other — the War of 1812 maybe? Not sure. But did any war ever have such a great overture written about it? I think there should be more overtures. There hasn’t been a great overture since Kansas’ Left Overture in 1976.
2. Franklin Pierce is the only president from New Hampshire that has a college named after him, aptly named Franklin Pierce College. He is considered one of the three worst presidents of all time, according to a recent poll. He was also the namesake of a fictional character on MASH named Benjamin Franklin Pierce, aka Hawkeye. Why Hawkeye’s parents would name him after the worst president of all time is beyond me. But maybe they actually named him after Benjamin Franklin and Pierce just happened to be their last name? On the topic of Benjamin Franklin — you know how they say about golfers, “He’s the best player that hasn’t won a major.” Sergio Garcia is the one they say that about now. Well, Ben Franklin is the greatest American never to be president. I don’t think you can argue that otherwise. Sticking with the golf terminology, I’d have to say he is the leader in the clubhouse right now.
3. James Buchanan never married. He is also rumored to be the most confirmed bachelor ever to be US president ever, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
4. There were four Whig presidents. The aforementioned Harrison was the first Whig president in 1840, followed by his VP, Tyler, Zachary Taylor in 1848, and Millard Fillmore in 1856. This was the Golden Age for the party, which soon got taken over by the Neo-Whigs and run into the ground. The Whigs were actually more Republican leaning, I think, but their policies were a little saner than the modern Republican Party. I might have voted Whig, who knows. I do like the name. They were about protectionism and states’ rights. Interesting that two of the four Whig presidents died while in office — Harrison and Taylor. Hmmmm.
Henry Clay was also a Whig. He might be right behind Franklin as the greatest man never to be president. He did a lot of great things. I can’t name one off the top of my head, but he did. Trust me.
5. James Madison was the shortest president. He was only 5’4″, but people say he looked much bigger in oil paintings. You know what they say, the paintbrush adds 10 pounds. He only weighed 100 pounds. William Howard Taft, the fattest president, had bowel movements bigger than that. It’s ironic that Madison’s wife, Dolly, had an entire line of snack cakes named after her. Maybe James should have eaten some of those snack cakes that his wife had inspired and put some meat on those bones. The fact that Dolly Madison has an entire line of scrumptious cakes named after easily her makes her the greatest First Lady of all time.
by Doug Bonderman