CLOSE

Presidential "Affairs"

If you thought Bill Clinton's tryst was bad, check out some of the salacious dirt haunting our other famous Presidents...

Warren Harding had a 15-year long affair with Carrie Phillips and over the years he gave her a Cadillac and offered her $5000 a year to keep her mouth shut. When the affair started getting in the way of his election, his campaign managers paid her more then $20,000, and sent her on a trip around the world.

Nan Britton, Harding's other famed mistress, supposedly gave birth to his daughter. She also reported that Harding and she often had relations in White House coat closets, and once were almost caught by his wife before a Secret Service agent saved the day.

It's no secret that Thomas Jefferson put the father in Founding Father. DNA evidence shows he sired at least 1 and probably all 6 of his slave Sally's children. What's harder for textbooks to verify is that he first seduced her when she was 14.

franklin-roosevelt-picture.jpgWhile JFK's definitely the best-known White House Lothario, FDR might wheel himself into second place. The Polio Player had an affair with his wife's bubbly secretary Lucy Mercer. When Eleanor found out about it, she was hopping mad, so he promised to put a halt to it... for a while. In the meantime, Roosevelt slept with his White House secretary Marguerite "Missy" LeHand, another one of his cousins (his wife was a cousin, too), and supposedly, he also got nice with Princess Martha of Norway. But despite the abundance of tail, he couldn't get Lucy Mercer out of his head. When the 4-term president passed away, the two were wrapped around each other.

It's not quite an affair, but John Quincy Adams got slapped with the nickname "The Pimp" after he offered his kids' nanny's "services" as a gift to the Czar of Russia.

lyndon-johnson-picture.jpgLyndon Johnson, the straight shooter from Texas who referred to his own Johnson as "Jumbo", shagged Madeleine Brown for 21 years (and fathered her son) all behind his wife Lady Bird's back. Meanwhile he was also busying himself with the movie actress Helen Gahagan Douglas and the knock-out Alice Glass—apparently, the latter eventually dumped him because of his politics on Vietnam.

James Garfield had an affair with an 18 year-old New York Times reporter named Lucia Gilbert Calhoun until his wife caught wind of the affair and made him decide between them. Good ole Garfield stuck to his marriage.

john-kennedy-picture.jpgAnd then there's JFK, the smoothest swinger of the lot. The most famous of his conquests was Marilyn Monroe who supposedly giggled and confided to a friend after their tryst, "I think I made his back real better." Allegedly, Kennedy also bedded his secretary Pamela Turner, movie star Angie Dickinson, famed stripper Blaze Starr (he supposedly had sex with her in a closet while her fiancée was in the next room during a party), Danish journalist Inga Arvad, B-movie actress Jayne Mansfield, and a host of others. He also slept with an intern while in office, Marion Fahnestock, ushering the way for a later president to do the same.

BONUS "Founding Father" (but not a president) FACT: Back when he was still Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton decided to console a saddened Maria Reynolds. Despite the fact that they were both married, he continued "consoling" her, and "consoling" her until Reynolds' husband smelled opportunity. He blackmailed the future president$1000 to keep quiet (1/3 of his salary!), but made it clear that Hamilton could keep sleeping with his wife for additional cash.

Special thanks to Sandy and Kara for the research help!

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
iStock
iStock

Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
iStock
iStock

Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios