https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/did-you-know/52-astonishing-facts-you-never-knew-about-us-presidents/ss-BBTbA5p?ocid=spartandhp&fullscreen=true#image=34

Abraham Lincoln turned down the chance to host elephants

Slide 1 of 52: In 1861, the King of Siam offered to gift President Lincoln 'several pairs of young male and female elephants,' which were indigenous to his country (today we know it as Thailand). The elephants could be bred to multiply, the king suggested, and the herds could be used as 'beasts of burden' that could work alongside the military during the Civil War. The president politely declined the offer, opting to use steam power instead of animal labor.

In 1861, the King of Siam offered to gift President Lincoln ‘several pairs of young male and female elephants,’ which were indigenous to his country (today we know it as Thailand). The elephants could be bred to multiply, the king suggested, and the herds could be used as ‘beasts of burden’ that could work alongside the military during the Civil War. The president politely declined the offer, opting to use steam power instead of animal labor.

Gerald Ford modeled on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine

Slide 2 of 52: Before he became our nation's 38th president, Gerald Ford had a side gig as a model. In 1942, shortly after joining the Navy, he landed an uncredited spot on the cover of Cosmopolitan in his uniform. Another fun fact? It was during this time that he met and went on to marry a fellow model, Elizabeth Bloomer. She became known to Americans as First Lady Betty Ford.

Before he became our nation’s 38th president, Gerald Ford had a side gig as a model. In 1942, shortly after joining the Navy, he landed an uncredited spot on the cover of Cosmopolitan in his uniform. Another fun fact? It was during this time that he met and went on to marry a fellow model, Elizabeth Bloomer. She became known to Americans as First Lady Betty Ford.

Slide 3 of 52: Back in the 1800s, little was known about our planet. In the absence of scientific evidence, some people believed in some pretty kooky theories—like the idea that planet Earth is actually hollow. Our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, was on board with this one. The commander-in-chief even signed off on a proposed expedition by a fellow Hollow Earther and would-be explorer to the Earth's 'empty' core. But when Andrew Jackson was voted into office four years later, he put the kibosh on the journey that never was.

John Quincy Adams approved a real-life journey to the center of the Earth

Back in the 1800s, little was known about our planet. In the absence of scientific evidence, some people believed in some pretty kooky theories—like the idea that planet Earth is actually hollow. Our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, was on board with this one. The commander-in-chief even signed off on a proposed expedition by a fellow Hollow Earther and would-be explorer to the Earth’s ’empty’ core. But when Andrew Jackson was voted into office four years later, he put the kibosh on the journey that never was.4/52 SLIDES© AP/REX/Shutterstock

William Howard Taft took a custom bathtub on a trip to Panama

Slide 4 of 52: The legend goes that our 27th president once got stuck in a bathtub and had to be pulled out by six men. Although President William Taft did weigh 340 pounds at his heaviest, this story is wholly false. But it probably stemmed from Taft's (very true) affinity for baths. In fact, he ordered a 7-foot-long tub that weighed a literal ton to be built and placed aboard the USS North Carolina, so he could luxuriate in it on his way to Panama.

The legend goes that our 27th president once got stuck in a bathtub and had to be pulled out by six men. Although President William Taft did weigh 340 pounds at his heaviest, this story is wholly false. But it probably stemmed from Taft’s (very true) affinity for baths. In fact, he ordered a 7-foot-long tub that weighed a literal ton to be built and placed aboard the USS North Carolina, so he could luxuriate in it on his way to Panama. 5/52 SLIDES© Historia/REX/Shutterstock

Herbert Hoover’s White House staff hid from him

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Slide 5 of 52: In a very diva move, 31st president Herbert Hoover insisted that his staff never see him around the White House—and he didn't want to see them either. This caused quite the charade, of course, as the staff felt pressured to hide from the president whenever he was present. According to White House journalist Kenneth Walsh, staffers would 'pile into closets' and 'hide behind bushes so the president couldn't see them.'

n a very diva move, 31st president Herbert Hoover insisted that his staff never see him around the White House—and he didn’t want to see them either. This caused quite the charade, of course, as the staff felt pressured to hide from the president whenever he was present. According to White House journalist Kenneth Walsh, staffers would ‘pile into closets’ and ‘hide behind bushes so the president couldn’t see them.’6/52 SLIDES© John Knoote/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock

Lyndon B. Johnson proposed to Lady Bird with a $2.50 ring from Sears

Slide 6 of 52: In 1934, Lyndon B. Johnson, then 26, proposed to Claudia Alta 'Ladybird' Taylor, 22, on their first date. Though she declined his offer, Johnson continued to woo her from afar, sending his sweetheart 90 letters in the span of about 90 days. Impatient, Johnson traveled from Washington, D.C. to Texas to arrive at her door with an ultimatum—marry me now or forever hold your peace. She accepted his proposal and the $2.50 engagement ring that came with it. Find out more fascinating trivia about America's first ladies.

In 1934, Lyndon B. Johnson, then 26, proposed to Claudia Alta ‘Ladybird’ Taylor, 22, on their first date. Though she declined his offer, Johnson continued to woo her from afar, sending his sweetheart 90 letters in the span of about 90 days. Impatient, Johnson traveled from Washington, D.C. to Texas to arrive at her door with an ultimatum—marry me now or forever hold your peace. She accepted his proposal and the $2.50 engagement ring that came with it. Find out more fascinating trivia about America’s first ladies. 7/52 SLIDES© Charles Gorry/AP/REX/Shutterstock

John Quincy Adams loved to skinny-dip

Slide 7 of 52: While in office, sixth president John Quincy Adams often swam in the Potomac River, and he preferred to do so in the buff. Adams was an early riser, and in his diaries, he wrote of waking at about 4 a.m. and taking a morning dip—nude. Though it sounds risqué now, skinny-dipping was apparently common in the 1800s.

While in office, sixth president John Quincy Adams often swam in the Potomac River, and he preferred to do so in the buff. Adams was an early riser, and in his diaries, he wrote of waking at about 4 a.m. and taking a morning dip—nude. Though it sounds risqué now, skinny-dipping was apparently common in the 1800s.8/52 SLIDES© Philippe Hays/REX/Shutterstock

George Washington grew cannabis

Slide 8 of 52: Before you start thinking the nation's first president was a stoner, you should know that George Washington grew hemp, not marijuana (they both belong to the cannabis family). He cultivated the hemp at his estate in Mount Vernon for industrial uses, like rope- and canvas-making.

Before you start thinking the nation’s first president was a stoner, you should know that George Washington grew hemp, not marijuana (they both belong to the cannabis family). He cultivated the hemp at his estate in Mount Vernon for industrial uses, like rope- and canvas-making. 9/52 SLIDES© Kristian Dowling/AP/REX/Shutterstock

George W. Bush is cousins with Hugh Hefner

Slide 9 of 52: It turns out our 43rd president and the founder of Playboy are distant cousins. More specifically, they're ninth cousins twice removed, sharing the same pair of great-grandparents. Another cousin shared by the two is former presidential candidate John Kerry. Check out these rare, candid photos of U.S. presidents.

It turns out our 43rd president and the founder of Playboy are distant cousins. More specifically, they’re ninth cousins twice removed, sharing the same pair of great-grandparents. Another cousin shared by the two is former presidential candidate John Kerry. Check out these rare, candid photos of U.S. presidents. 10/52 SLIDES© AP/REX/Shutterstock

Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its name

Slide 10 of 52: Though the residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is painted white, it was known as The Executive Mansion and The President's Palace until October 1901, when then-president Theodore Roosevelt referred to it as The White House. The 26th president made the moniker official when he had it engraved on his stationery.

Though the residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is painted white, it was known as The Executive Mansion and The President’s Palace until October 1901, when then-president Theodore Roosevelt referred to it as The White House. The 26th president made the moniker official when he had it engraved on his stationery. 11/52 SLIDES© Chris Barham/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock

Warren Harding lost the White House china in a poker game

Slide 11 of 52: Warren Harding, our 29th president, loved a game of poker—and apparently, he was a high roller. During one of his bi-weekly poker games, Harding gambled away a set of china that had been in the White House since President Benjamin Harrison's tenure six terms prior. He bet it all on one ill-advised hand.

Warren Harding, our 29th president, loved a game of poker—and apparently, he was a high roller. During one of his bi-weekly poker games, Harding gambled away a set of china that had been in the White House since President Benjamin Harrison’s tenure six terms prior. He bet it all on one ill-advised hand. 12/52 SLIDES© Mike Hollist/ANL/REX/Shutterstock

Thomas Jefferson kept pet grizzly bears

Slide 12 of 52: During his tenure as our third president, Thomas Jefferson became the happy recipient of a wild gift: a pair of grizzly bear cubs. He kept them in a cage on the front lawn of the White House for a few months before deciding they were too dangerous to keep and bequeathing them to a museum. These are the 13 presidents with the highest IQ scores.

During his tenure as our third president, Thomas Jefferson became the happy recipient of a wild gift: a pair of grizzly bear cubs. He kept them in a cage on the front lawn of the White House for a few months before deciding they were too dangerous to keep and bequeathing them to a museum. These are the 13 presidents with the highest IQ scores. 13/52 SLIDES© MATHEW B. BRADY/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Ulysses S. Grant was arrested for speeding—on a horse

Slide 13 of 52: A noted equestrian, our 18th president was quite confident on a horse—perhaps too confident. While driving his horse and buggy at a furious pace during his presidential tenure, Grant was pulled over twice within the span of 24 hours. The second time, one bold police officer decided to arrest the commander-in-chief, who was ultimately given a fine. Legend has it that the officer and the president eventually became friends.

A noted equestrian, our 18th president was quite confident on a horse—perhaps too confident. While driving his horse and buggy at a furious pace during his presidential tenure, Grant was pulled over twice within the span of 24 hours. The second time, one bold police officer decided to arrest the commander-in-chief, who was ultimately given a fine. Legend has it that the officer and the president eventually became friends. 14/52 SLIDES© AP/REX/Shutterstock

The first White House bowling alley was a birthday present for Harry Truman

Slide 14 of 52: In 1947, 33rd president Harry Truman became responsible for having a bowling alley installed in the West Wing in celebration of his 63rd birthday. He became the first person to ever throw a bowling ball down the White House lane, and one of the seven pins he knocked down is on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

In 1947, 33rd president Harry Truman became responsible for having a bowling alley installed in the West Wing in celebration of his 63rd birthday. He became the first person to ever throw a bowling ball down the White House lane, and one of the seven pins he knocked down is on display at the Smithsonian Institution. 15/52 SLIDES© A.Sontaya/Shutterstock

Bill Clinton is a My Little Pony Expert

Slide 15 of 52: During a segment on the NPR show 'Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!,' 42nd president Bill Clinton was quizzed about the animated movie My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. To the amazement of his hosts, he nailed all three questions and won a prize on behalf of the listener for whom he was playing.

During a segment on the NPR show ‘Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!,’ 42nd president Bill Clinton was quizzed about the animated movie My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. To the amazement of his hosts, he nailed all three questions and won a prize on behalf of the listener for whom he was playing. 16/52 SLIDES© STEWART COOK/REX/Shutterstock

Clint Eastwood was almost Vice President under George H.W. Bush

Slide 16 of 52: While running for office in 1988, then-presidential nominee George Bush was not feeling lucky, so he considered bringing on the 'Dirty Harry' actor to help breathe life into his struggling campaign. Clint Eastwood had been mayor of Carmel, California, but Bush famously chose Dan Quayle as his running mate instead. Here are more things you probably don't know about the vice presidency.

While running for office in 1988, then-presidential nominee George Bush was not feeling lucky, so he considered bringing on the ‘Dirty Harry’ actor to help breathe life into his struggling campaign. Clint Eastwood had been mayor of Carmel, California, but Bush famously chose Dan Quayle as his running mate instead. Here are more things you probably don’t know about the vice presidency. 17/52 SLIDES© Universal History Archive/REX/Shutterstock

James Garfield could write in Greek with one hand and Latin with the other

Slide 17 of 52: The ambidextrous James Garfield could write in two languages simultaneously: Latin and Greek. He taught both languages while attending the acclaimed Williams College in Massachusetts, where he was later named president before going on to be elected as the 20th president of the United States.

The ambidextrous James Garfield could write in two languages simultaneously: Latin and Greek. He taught both languages while attending the acclaimed Williams College in Massachusetts, where he was later named president before going on to be elected as the 20th president of the United States.18/52 SLIDES© Shutterstock

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to name a woman to his cabinet

Slide 18 of 52: In 1933, our 32nd president became the first one to hire a woman by naming Frances Perkins as secretary of labor in 1933. She had previously worked for him when he was governor of New York.

In 1933, our 32nd president became the first one to hire a woman by naming Frances Perkins as secretary of labor in 1933. She had previously worked for him when he was governor of New York. 19/52 SLIDES© Historia/REX/Shutterstock

Abraham Lincoln allowed seances in the White House

Slide 19 of 52: First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln reportedly invited mediums to the White House to call on departed spirits through seances during Abraham Lincoln's tenure. While there's no definitive evidence, the president was said to have attended some of the events. He was also thought to believe in the occult to an extent.

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln reportedly invited mediums to the White House to call on departed spirits through seances during Abraham Lincoln’s tenure. While there’s no definitive evidence, the president was said to have attended some of the events. He was also thought to believe in the occult to an extent. 20/52 SLIDES© Zick Jochen/action press/REX/Shutterstock

Three presidents are Grammy winners

Slide 20 of 52: It may sound odd, but Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Jimmy Carter have each won a Grammy. No, they're not singers or songwriters, but they did nab prizes for Best Spoken Word Album for the audio versions of their biographies. Check out more impressive hidden talents of U.S. presidents.

It may sound odd, but Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Jimmy Carter have each won a Grammy. No, they’re not singers or songwriters, but they did nab prizes for Best Spoken Word Album for the audio versions of their biographies. Check out more impressive hidden talents of U.S. presidents. 21/52 SLIDES© Universal History Archive/UIG/REX/Shutterstock

George Washington’s teeth were made of something more disturbing than wood

Slide 21 of 52: It's a popular misconception that our first president's teeth were made of wood. In fact, they were made of something even more horrifying: other people's teeth—likely those of slaves or impoverished people. The dentures apparently also contained ivory.

It’s a popular misconception that our first president’s teeth were made of wood. In fact, they were made of something even more horrifying: other people’s teeth—likely those of slaves or impoverished people. The dentures apparently also contained ivory. 22/52 SLIDES© Universal History Archive/UIG/REX/Shutterstock

Two rival presidents died on the exact same day

Slide 22 of 52: Thought friendly in their personal lives, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were political competitors. On his deathbed, Adams is believed to have uttered, 'Thomas Jefferson still survives,' in a final act of rivalry. Little did he know that Jefferson had actual died hours earlier.

Thought friendly in their personal lives, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were political competitors. On his deathbed, Adams is believed to have uttered, ‘Thomas Jefferson still survives,’ in a final act of rivalry. Little did he know that Jefferson had actual died hours earlier. 23/52 SLIDES© Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/REX/Shutterstock

America’s eighth president was the first to be born stateside

Slide 23 of 52: There were seven official U.S. presidents before Martin Van Buren, the first president to actually be born in the states, took office. Van Buren was the eighth U.S. president. In fairness, the United States was not even founded until 1776, two years before George Washington took office, but facts are facts. Don't miss these presidential trivia facts that simply aren't true.

There were seven official U.S. presidents before Martin Van Buren, the first president to actually be born in the states, took office. Van Buren was the eighth U.S. president. In fairness, the United States was not even founded until 1776, two years before George Washington took office, but facts are facts. Don’t miss these presidential trivia facts that simply aren’t true. 24/52 SLIDES© Historia/REX/Shutterstock

Two of 10th President Tyler’s grandchildren are still alive

Slide 24 of 52: How is it possible that two grandchildren of our nation's 10th president, born one year after George Washington took office and elected to office himself in 1841, are still alive as of this story's publication in 2019? The president was 75 when his last child was born in 1928, and the two living grandsons are descendants of that son.

How is it possible that two grandchildren of our nation’s 10th president, born one year after George Washington took office and elected to office himself in 1841, are still alive as of this story’s publication in 2019? The president was 75 when his last child was born in 1928, and the two living grandsons are descendants of that son. 25/52 SLIDES© Nara Archives/REX/Shutterstock

No one could dance in the White House during James Polk’s tenure

Slide 25 of 52: The wife of 11th president James Polk was a strict Presbyterian and looked down upon dancing, so it was banned in the White House while her husband was in office and at the Inaugural Ball. She also disapproved of horse racing and the theater. Here are 14 of the most gorgeous inaugural gowns worn by First Ladies.

The wife of 11th president James Polk was a strict Presbyterian and looked down upon dancing, so it was banned in the White House while her husband was in office and at the Inaugural Ball. She also disapproved of horse racing and the theater. Here are 14 of the most gorgeous inaugural gowns worn by First Ladies. 26/52 SLIDES© F A Archive/REX/Shutterstock

Ulysses S. Grant’s middle initial stood for nothing

Slide 26 of 52: You might know who is buried in Grant's tomb, but do you know what his middle initial stood for? Well, neither did he. Apparently, it came from a typo on his application to West Point.

You might know who is buried in Grant’s tomb, but do you know what his middle initial stood for? Well, neither did he. Apparently, it came from a typo on his application to West Point.27/52 SLIDES© Universal History Archive/UIG/REX/Shutterstock

Rutherford B. Hayes was the first American to own a Siamese cat

Slide 27 of 52: The First Cat during Hayes's presidency was literally the first cat—as in the first Siamese cat to be owned by a U.S. citizen. She was a gift to the president and First Lady. They originally named her Miss Pussy, but eventually simplified things by calling the cat Siam. Check out these funny words that were made up by U.S. presidents.

The First Cat during Hayes’s presidency was literally the first cat—as in the first Siamese cat to be owned by a U.S. citizen. She was a gift to the president and First Lady. They originally named her Miss Pussy, but eventually simplified things by calling the cat Siam. Check out these funny words that were made up by U.S. presidents.28/52 SLIDES© Historia/REX/Shutterstock

James Garfield’s spine was on display at a museum

Slide 28 of 52: At the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington D.C., the spine of President Garfield was displayed along with other medical oddities in 2000. A bullet hole from his 1881 assassination is clearly visible.

At the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington D.C., the spine of President Garfield was displayed along with other medical oddities in 2000. A bullet hole from his 1881 assassination is clearly visible. 29/52 SLIDES© Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/REX/Shutterstock

Chester Arthur held a White House yard sale to finance a redecorating project

Slide 29 of 52: In what was probably the first White House yard sale, the 21st president sold two dozen wagon loads of presidential merchandise including a pair of Abraham Lincoln's pants and John Quincy Adams' hat. He then used the money to hire an interior decorator. Don't miss these hilarious quotes from past presidents.

In what was probably the first White House yard sale, the 21st president sold two dozen wagon loads of presidential merchandise including a pair of Abraham Lincoln’s pants and John Quincy Adams’ hat. He then used the money to hire an interior decorator. Don’t miss these hilarious quotes from past presidents. 30/52 SLIDES© Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/REX/Shutterstock

William McKinley’s red carnation might have saved his life

Slide 30 of 52: The 25th president was known for wearing a red carnation on his lapel for good luck. The boutonniere probably was a good luck charm after all. While greeting a little girl at an event in 1901, he decided to give his lucky flower to her. Moments later, he was assassinated.

The 25th president was known for wearing a red carnation on his lapel for good luck. The boutonniere probably was a good luck charm after all. While greeting a little girl at an event in 1901, he decided to give his lucky flower to her. Moments later, he was assassinated. 31/52 SLIDES© Nara Archives/REX/Shutterstock

Herbert Hoover had his own sport

Slide 31 of 52: To keep our 31st president fit, his physician invented a sport that was later called Hoover-ball while Herbert Hoover was in office. It's a combination of tennis and volleyball and uses a medicine ball. The sport is still played competitively in Hoover's hometown of West Branch, Iowa.

To keep our 31st president fit, his physician invented a sport that was later called Hoover-ball while Herbert Hoover was in office. It’s a combination of tennis and volleyball and uses a medicine ball. The sport is still played competitively in Hoover’s hometown of West Branch, Iowa. 32/52 SLIDES© James Gray/ANL/REX/Shutterstock

Dwight Eisenhower ordered the assassination of squirrels

Slide 32 of 52: Our 34th president, an avid golfer, got sick and tired of squirrels messing up his game by digging up the green to bury their acorns. He ordered his valet to shoot the rodents, but the Secret Service forbade the use of guns on the White House grounds, so groundkeepers trapped and released the animals instead. Check out these other things presidents have tried to have banned from the White House.

Our 34th president, an avid golfer, got sick and tired of squirrels messing up his game by digging up the green to bury their acorns. He ordered his valet to shoot the rodents, but the Secret Service forbade the use of guns on the White House grounds, so groundkeepers trapped and released the animals instead. Check out these other things presidents have tried to have banned from the White House. 33/52 SLIDES© REX/Shutterstock

Four presidents were cheerleaders

Slide 33 of 52: What did Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin Roosevelt, and George W. Bush have in common? They all served as cheerleaders either in high school or college. Talk about squad goals!

What did Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin Roosevelt, and George W. Bush have in common? They all served as cheerleaders either in high school or college. Talk about squad goals! 34/52 SLIDES© Historia/REX/Shutterstock

Ronald Reagan did standup comedy

Franklin Roosevelt wore dresses as a child

Jimmy Carter believed in UFOs

Abraham Lincoln was a licensed bartender

John Adams named his dog ‘Satan’

We had a 24-hour president

Ever hear of President David Rice Atchison? If the answer is no, that’s probably because he was only ‘president’ for a day. In 1849, the inauguration of Zachary Taylor landed on a Sunday, and the religious incumbent refused to be sworn in on a holy day. He had Atchison stand in for him.

Presidents’ Day is technically called Washington’s Birthday

Presidents’ Day has a more complex history than one would think. After George Washington died in 1799, his supporters recognized his birthday as a day of remembrance. In 1885, his birthday became a federal holiday for the whole country. Later, in 1968, a new bill made certain federal holidays on Mondays and combined birthday celebrations for Washington and Lincoln for a ‘Presidents’ Day.’ According to the United States Code, however, that holiday is technically still called Washington’s Birthday and never officially changed to Presidents’ Day. Federal code permits local governments and private businesses to name federal holidays whatever they want, so most states call it Presidents’ Day.

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