The United States has a very unique history and has been greatly blessed by God and has also been used to bring the gospel to the far corners of the globe and to minister to many, many nations in their times of need. Key to the blessings our nation has experienced has been our foundation on biblical principles and the leadership of many who, although not all Christians, have had a respect for and support of biblical values. The Psalmist wrote: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD (Jehovah)”’ (Psa. 33:12). Unfortunately in recent years, it seems our nation has lost its respect and reverence for the LORD and for biblical values and we have been paying the price for turning our back on the God who has made this nation great. It is our prayer as believers for repentance and revival and a turn around in our blessed nation.
For a nation to be great we must also have great leaders. While not all of our presidents have necessarily been great leaders, we have the unique opportunity to elect new leaders on a regular basis. You might be interested, on this special day set aside to honor our presidents, to review some interesting facts about the 45 presidents who have lead this great nation.
1. George Washington, our first president (1789-1797), was the only American president to be unanimously elected and the only president who did not represent a political party.
2. John Adams (1797-1801) was the first president to reside in the White house. He moved in November 1800 while the paint was still wet!
3. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), the main author of the Declaration of Independence, was the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.
4. James Madison (1809-1817), standing 5 feet, 4 inches, and weighing 100 pounds, was the shortest and lightest president. He was also the first president to wear trousers rather than knee breeches.
5. James Monroe (1817-1825) was the first president to ride a steamboat, and his daughter, Maria Hester, was the first to be a bride in the White house. He was the last Revolutionary War veteran to serve as president.
6. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) was the son of a former president and the first president to be photographed. He started The American Bible Society.
7. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) was the first president born in a log cabin and the first to ride in a train. He also was the first to experience and survive an assassination attempt.
8,. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841) was the first president born in the United States. He was raised in Kinderhook, N.Y. and after going into politics, became known as “Old Kinderhook.” Soon people began using the term OK to refer to Van Buren and the word okay was derived!
9. William Henry Harrison (1841), the only president who studied to be a doctor, served the shortest presidency. He died of pneumonia one month after delivering his 105-minute outdoor inaugural speech without wearing an overcoat or hat.
10. John Tyler (1841-1845) was the first vice president to ascend to the presidency upon the death of a president. He was also the president with the most children—15!
11. James K. Polk (1845-1849) was the first president to have his inauguration reported by telegraph and the first to fulfill all of his campaign promises!
12. Zachary Taylor (1849-1850) did not vote until age of 62 because he had moved many times as a soldier and had not established an official place of residency.
13. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853) refused an honorary degree from Oxford University because he felt he had “neither literary nor scientific attainment.”
14. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857) was the first president to have a Christmas tree in the White House.
15. James Buchanan (1857-1861) was the only president that never married.
16. Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) was the first president to wear a beard, was the tallest at 6 feet 4 inches, and the first to be assassinated.
17. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869) was impeached for removing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton during the turbulent Reconstruction period, but was acquitted by one vote in the Senate.
18. Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) was a Union commander during the Civil War and established Yellowstone as the first national park in 1872.
19. Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) banished liquor and wine from the White House and held the first Easter egg roll on the White House lawn.
20. James Garfield (1881) was the last of seven presidents born in a log cabin and the second president to die by assassination, two months after being sworn into office.
21. Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885) was nicknamed “Elegant Arthur” for his fashion sense.
22. Grover Cleveland (1885-1889) personally answered the White House phone and was the only president married in a ceremony at the White House.
23. Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) was the only president to be a grandson of a president and the first president to use electricity in the White House.
24. Grover Cleveland (1893-1897) was the only president to be elected to nonconsecutive terms and the first to have a child born in the White House.
25. William McKinley (1897-1901) was the first president to ride in an automobile, the first to campaign by telephone and the third to die from assassination.
26. Theodore (“Teddy”) Roosevelt (1901-1909) was the first president to call his residence in Washington, D.C. the “White House.” He was a physical fitness buff and loved to box. He was a conservationist and added millions of acres of forest and mineral lands to national preserves. He was the first American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize (in 1906). His favorite expression was: “speak softly, but carry a big stick.”
27. William H. Taft (1909-1913) was the first president to own a car and the only president to serve as chief justice of the United States, from 1921-1930.
28. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) is the only president buried in Washington, D.C. at Washington National Cathedral.
29. Warren G. Harding ((1921-1923) was the first president to speak over the radio and the first newspaper publisher to be elected to the presidency. He also had the largest feet of any president—size 14.
30. Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) lighted the first national Christmas tree in 1923 on the White House lawn and refused to use the telephone while he was in office.
31. Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) approved “The Star Spangled Banner” as the national anthem and was the first president born west of the Mississippi River, in West Branch, Iowa.
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) is the only American president to serve four terms.
33. Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) was the first president to give a speech on television and the first president to travel underwater in a submarine.
34. Dwight D. (“Ike”) Eisenhower (1953-1961), who commanded Allied troops during the D-Day invasion of France in 1944, was the only president to serve in both World War I and World War II.
35. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) was the first Roman Catholic president, the first president born in the 20th century and the first president to hold a press conference on television. At age 43, he was also the youngest American elected president, and, at age 46, the youngest to die in office (the fourth to be assassinated). Probably his most famous statement was: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
36. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1974), before becoming a politician, was a high school teacher in Texas.
37. Richard Nixon (1969-1974) was the first president to visit all 50 states, the first to visit China and the only president to resign (as a result of the “Watergate” scandal.)
38. Gerald Ford (1974-1977), who worked as a fashion model, became vice president and president without being elected to either office.
39. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) was the first president born in a hospital.
40. At age 69, Ronald W. Reagan (1981-9189) became the oldest person—and first actor—ever elected U.S. president.
41. George H.W. Bush (1989-1993) was the first vice president elected president since Martin Van Buren (1837), and also the first vice president to lose re-election since Van Buren.
42. William J. Clinton (1993-2001) was the first Rhodes Scholar to become president.
43. George W. Bush (2001-2008) was the first son of a president to become president since John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams.
44. Barack H. Obama (2008-2017) was the first African American to be elected as president of the United States, and the first president to be born outside the contiguous United States (born in Hawaii).
45. Donald Trump (2017- ) is the first president elected who had no background in either the military or in politics. He is also the oldest and wealthiest to be elected.
As believers, we have a solemn responsibility to “be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Ro. 13:1). We are to pray for our president “and for all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 1:2-4).