The Most Surprising Fact About Every American President

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11. James Polk (1795-1849)
> Years served as president: 1845-1849
> Political party: Democratic
> Surprising fact: Polk banned fun activities from the White House.

James Polk and his wife did not go down in history for being the life of the party. In fact, they were quite the opposite. Together, the two banned alcohol, card playing, and dancing from the White House.

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12. Zachary Taylor (1784-1850)
> Years served as president: 1849-1850
> Political party: Whig
> Surprising fact: Taylor never voted for president before he was elected.

Mexican War hero Zachary Taylor never voted for a president until he was elected the nation’s chief executive himself in 1848. His explanation was that as a military leader he did not want to be put in the position of having voted against the commander in chief of the United States.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

13. Millard Fillmore (1800-1874)
> Years served as president: 1850-1853
> Political party: Whig
> Surprising fact: Fillmore did not have a vice president during his term.

Millard Fillmore, who became president upon the death of Zachary Taylor, did not have a vice president. Fillmore was the first of four presidents to serve without a vice president. At the time, the Constitution did not include a provision for replacing vice presidents who had died or departed from duty. That would not happen until 1967, when the 25th Amendment was ratified that allowed a president to appoint a vice president, with the approval of Congress.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

14. Franklin Pierce (1804-1869)
> Years served as president: 1853-1857
> Political party: Democratic
> Surprising fact: Pierce was arrested for running over a woman with his horse.

Franklin Pierce, the country’s 14th president, was arrested for running over a woman with his horse. He never received jail time, though, likely because of insufficient evidence. The case was dropped in 1853, his first year in office.

Source: National Archives / Newsmakers / Getty Images

15. James Buchanan (1791-1868)
> Years served as president: 1857-1861
> Political party: Democratic
> Surprising fact: Buchanan bought slaves to free them to save his reputation.

While it may sound heroic for Buchanan to have bought slaves just to set them free, it’s not entirely true. Buchanan feared that word of his sister Harriet and her husband owning slaves would get out and ruin his reputation of being neutral about the slavery issue. As a bachelor, he had no wife but a housekeeper who needed servants. Instead of freeing the slaves he bought, he kept them as servants of his household.