5 Presidential Secrets Left off the White House Tour

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1. Washington Wasn't the First American President

Your teachers all said G.W. was the first American president, but George "I Cannot Tell a Lie" Washington would have told you differently. During the American Revolution in 1781, the Continental Congress elected Maryland statesman John Hanson to the post of President of the United States in Congress Assembled. After Washington defeated the British at the Battle of Yorktown, Hanson sent him a congratulatory note. Washington's reply was addressed to the "President of the United States." Not until he was elected in 1789 did Washington officially take his own version of the title.

2. John Quincy Adams' Naked Swimming Fetish

Forget secret tapes and shredded documents. Back in the early 19th century, there was a better way to get a glimpse of an American president truly exposed. All you had to do was show up at the banks of the Potomac River early in the morning during the warmer months between 1825 and 1829 to catch John Quincy Adams skinny-dipping.

3. The Fabulous Life of George Washington

As president, ol' Georgie pulled in a salary of $25K a year. That's roughly $1 million in today's currency. Apparently excited by his newfound purchasing power, Washington started living it up, reportedly buying leopard-skin robes for all his horses and spending seven percent of his income on alcohol.

4. Bush Leaves His Mark on Japan

If you remember one thing from the first Bush administration, it's probably not the 1992 state dinner during which President George H. W. Bush, ill with the flu, lost his lunch in the lap of the Japanese prime minister. Well, a lot of Japanese remember that incident a little better. Turns out, Bush's faux pas coined a slang word, bushusuru, which translates as "to do the Bush thing," meaning "to vomit."

5. Thomas Jefferson Goes Missing From Office

What do you want on your tombstone? Thomas Jefferson knew, so he took the time before he died to write out the inscription. A rather lengthy memorial, the missive listed Jefferson's many great accomplishments, from "author of the Declaration of Independence" to "founder of the University of Virginia." However, he did forget one small achievement. The tombstone fails to mention that Jefferson was once president of the United States.

July 17, 2008 - 9:17am
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