All you need to know about every president
Everyone can name the current President of the United States. Everyone should be able to name the first president of the United States. But, apart from Barack Obama and George Washington, how much does the average person know about the other forty-one men who have held the position?
Are you able to name all of them? You can probably name a few others, such as George Bush (Junior and Senior), Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. But what about the more obscure names of the men who’ve taken charge of the country? How much do you know about Martin Van Buren, (1837-1840)? Did anything significant happen whilst James K. Polk was in office between 1845 and 1848? And have you even heard of Zachary Taylor (1849)?
Of the guys whose names are cemented into the history of the United States, how much do you actually know about them? Which president held the first fireworks display at the White House? Who caught pneumonia after standing outside for hours during his inauguration and died a mere 32 days into his term of office? And which president began the tradition of the head-of-the-union throwing out the first ball of each new baseball season?
If these gaps in your presidential knowledge are causing you consternation, have no fear, for the internet is here. You can learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about every president, from Washington to Obama, as it’s all available at the top ten sites listed here. So switch off your cellphone, stop moaning to everyone about how little you know and start filling your brain with presidential facts. “You ain’t learnin’ nothin’ when you’re talkin’.”, as Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963-69) once said.
1. Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States
Wikipedia is one of the many examples on the net where collaboration actually does breed success. Wikipedia has been in existence since 2001, and, relying almost solely upon user-contributions, has grown into the prime source of detailed information about almost any subject you care to think of. Naturally, each President throughout history is covered and their lives examined in exacting detail. The one criticism of Wikipedia is the ease at which it can – often maliciously – be edited. So if you read that Franklin Pierce (1853-57) was actually a three-legged horse, beware.
2. PBS – http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/collections/presidents/
Beginning in 1990, PBS began to broadcast, under the collective name “American Experience” a series of extended, multi-part documentaries concerning those men who held the title of US president in the twentieth century. Those documentaries are available to view online on the PBS website; a total of 33 hours of video footage. Also on the site are biographies of every US president.
3. The White House – http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents
One of the most attractive aspects of the role of president is the fact you get to live during your term of office in one of the most iconic buildings in the world. The White House website naturally has detailed information on every US president. Did you know who the first president who actually lived there was? Step forwards John Adams, who moved in with his wife in 1800 even though the house was yet to be completed.
4. History.com – http://www.history.com/topics/the-us-presidents
History.com is the web-site of the US-based satellite and cable TV channel named, imaginatively, History (previously “The History Channel”). The site has a wealth of information about each White House incumbent, including videos, photo galleries, and audio files.
5. Scholastic – http://teacher.scholastic.com/researchtools/articlearchives/uspres/
Primarily aimed at teachers of younger scholars, this site has a range of resources and entertaining articles about the job of the President of the United States. This site also lets the ladies finally get a look-in, as there are articles concerning a range of first ladies, including Betty Ford, Barbara Bush and Hilary Clinton.
6. Infoplease – http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0873867.html
An extensive and entertaining site, Infoplease merges the serious with the not-so serious to create a resource that seem primarily aimed at those of middle-school age. As well as the usual mix of crucial facts, you can view slide-shows of notable “First Kids”, such as Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham, and the curtailed life of JFK Jr. If that’s not enough frivolity for you, there’s also a gallery of “First Pets”, although how a color photo of George Washington’s parrot ended up there is anyone’s guess.
7. Enchanted Learning – http://www.enchantedlearning.com/history/us/pres/list.shtml
A no-frills educational portal aimed at fourth and fifth graders, this site has information on the more well-known US presidents, including Thomas Jefferson and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The site also contains a few fun activities, such a Wordsearch puzzle, and instructions on how to successfully write to the president himself.
8. Sheppards Software -http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/History/presidents/Presidents_menu.htm
Another site aimed at younger members of society, this nicely presented and colorful site contains extremely detailed and eminently useful biographies of every single US president. Each pen picture depicts their lives before they attained office, how they faired whilst sat in the President’s chair, and what happened once their term of office had come to a conclusion. If you get bored there’s always an online jigsaw puzzle of Mount Rushmore you can put together.
9. IPL2 – http://www.ipl.org/div/potus/
IPL stands for “Internet Public Library”, and originated as an online portal of education at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, opening in 1995. Their presidential pages center on hard facts, but further information can be gathered, if needed, from the site’s huge collection of links. Each President’s time-line is broken down into a series of notable events that can then be further explored.
10. Miller Center – http://millercenter.org/president/polk
Created by the University of Virginia, this site is purely dedicated to politics and contains extensive resources concerning the United States’ First Men, from Washington onwards. The site offers a “Presidential Classroom”, with virtual exhibits and detailed lesson plans aimed to bring history alive for those interested.
And, if you’re wondering about the identity of the men mentioned in the third paragraph at the start of this article, they were John Adams, William Henry Harrison and William Howard Taft.