I’ve been reading a good deal about various past Presidents lately (mostly the comparatively obscure ones, because they have some of the best surprises) and have stumbled across some (I think) interesting little factoids. So, for today’s 7 Quick Takes, I’m going to share some in the form of a series of trivia questions (visitors from Conversion Diary, I again apologize for the conspicuous lack of cute babies).
So why did he have to wait until the Clinton administration to get his reward? Politics. Roosevelt made a stink about the delay in bringing the troops home after the war (many of whom were contracting tropical diseases), which resulted both in the homecoming of the troops and the embarassment of many of the top brass, who got even by letting Roosevelt's cause for the Medal of Honor sit and rot for the rest of his life. Roosevelt shrugged it off and ran for governor.
5. Which President, while serving as an officer during wartime, didn’t lose a single man under his command?
A. Harry S. Truman. Commanding an artillery regiment in France during the First World War, Truman decided he couldn’t face the prospect of losing a man under his command, so he vowed to see them all safely through to the end. Miraculously, and despite some close shaves, he managed it, and his troops never forgot that fact.
6. Which President (not counting Obama) was accused of having a Black ancestor?
A. Warren G. Harding. The rumor that his great-great grandmother was a black woman had begun generations before and entered family legend. His great-great grandfather claimed that it had been started by a thief whom the family had caught in the act as an attempt at extortion, but considering how socially debilitating it would be if true, who knows whether that’s the case or not? Remember, at the time the ‘One-drop’ rule was in effect: in certain parts of the country, any proven Black ancestors meant that you were legally Black (and no, now that you mention it, that doesn't make any sense).
To his credit, when the issue came up in the 1920 election, Harding didn’t bother denying it. His answer when confronted with the question was, and I quote: “How the hell should I know?”
7. Of the four murdered Presidents, who was the only one who wasn’t shot in the presence of his family members?
A. William McKinley. Compounding the tragedy of our four Presidential assassinations is the little noted fact that three of them were committed right in front of the murdered man’s family. Lincoln and Kennedy both were shot in front of their wives, while James Garfield was gunned down while in company of his two sons (ages 16 and 18). McKinley was spared this, in part, due to the fact that both his children died in early childhood and that his wife, Ida, was too weak and sickly to join in most of his public events. McKinley’s response to being shot (after stopping the crowd from beating his murderer, Leon Czolgosz) was to urge his secretary to be careful in how he told his wife.
McKinley had a habit of wearing a red carnation in his lapel for good luck. He didn’t have it on him when he was shot because he had given it to a little girl just a few minutes earlier.
Rot in Hell, Czolgosz!