It’s Presidents’ Day, a time to remember and honor past and present commanders in chief. In light of the recent contested election, a moment to discover some of the quirks and feuds from previous presidents is in order.
The Most Disliked President?
According to some, Donald Trump is the worst and most dangerous president to ever sit in the Oval Office. But the tenth president, John Tyler, was not seen very favorably either. After President William Henry Harrison died, Vice President Tyler felt that he should automatically take over, inspiring the 25th Amendment.
Tyler was the first president to face impeachment, and his own party expelled him. At his passing, President Abraham Lincoln did not even give a mourning speech or proclamation and the flags were not set to half-mast.
The two didn’t speak for years, but finally made amends in their old age. They even died on the same day, July 4, 1826, within hours of each other. Adams’ last words were “Thomas Jefferson survives,” not realizing Jefferson had beat him to the grave hours before.
Inauguration Gaffes and Mischief
President Joe Biden’s inauguration was unusual. The newly-coronated leader surrounded the area with the National Guard while restricting the people from witnessing and taking part in the momentous event. But his wasn’t the only odd induction to the Oval Office.
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant’s first inauguration in 1869 saw outright brawls. Apparently, the staff working the coat-check area couldn’t read the claim tickets, which angered the crowd as they waited impatiently to pick up their jackets. Fights broke out and some people were so frustrated, they left without claiming their belongings.
Wanting to have a better experience – but failing miserably – for his second inauguration in 1873, Grant decided to add canaries to the festivities for the ball. He didn’t, however, take into account the freezing temperatures, which led to about 100 birds freezing to death.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The 1950s was a popular era for cowboys with such charismatic actors as John Wayne, “The Duke,” lighting up the screen. Eisenhower wanted to bring some of that frontier magic to his 1953 inauguration with Montie Montana, a movie star and rodeo rider. The rodeo rider showed off his talent by riding up to the parade stand on horseback and then lassoing the new president in front of a cheering crowd.
Unfortunately, Nixon took a page out of Grant’s not-to-do instructional manual and decided to encompass birds – or rather, the lack of them – into his Inauguration Day parade in 1973. The idea was to make sure pigeons wouldn’t ruin the big day by showing up and pooping on everyone. To achieve this feat, a chemical bird repellent was sprayed along the parade route. Unfortunately, that route became littered with dozens of dead pigeons.
It’s time to mix things up. Clinton did not want a traditional inaugural celebration complete with military cadets marching. For his momentous event, he instead had a reggae band and lawn-chair drill team in the parade. There was also a float with an Elvis Presley impersonator as well as members of Elvis’ original band.