Can You Ace This Presidential Trivia Quiz?

HISTORY

Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: Abbie Rowe

About This Quiz

As the saying goes "e pluribus unum" or "out of many, one". American presidents may be just the most visible face of a single one of the three co-equal branches of government - the other two being the judiciary's pinnacle, the Supreme Court, and the top of the legislature, i.e. Congress - but just because they aren't royalty doesn't stop us from learning all about them as if they are. Each president is the subject of libraries'-worth of books about their tenure, their personality, their upbringing, their advisers, the historical events they faced in office and every tiny detail.

Some presidents put quite a stamp on the country and on history, while others were merely warm bodies who sat in the White House for between 30 days and several years. Some gave amazing orations, while others were merely amazingly corrupt. Some made it to the end of their term of office intact while an alarmingly high number of them died before getting there - some of natural causes, others through murder. Some believed in a very centralized government and others were committed federalists, albeit for a variety of reasons. Some were devoted family men and others were perhaps not the most ideal of husbands. 

Let's see how well you remember the members of the most exclusive employment club in world history!

Which president is the teddy bear named for?

Teddy Roosevelt was on a hunting trip for bears, but had not seen any in days. Not wanting to let down the VIP, the organizers found an old bear and tied it to a tree. Teddy refused to shoot something in such an unsportsmanlike way and as a result of his compassion, he became associated with bears.

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What disease did Franklin Delano Roosevelt have?

FDR's childhood bout of polio got into his immune system and made him unable to walk very well. He used to hold onto the podium and was only photographed from the waist up if he had his leg braces on. He never let Americans see him in a wheelchair, in fear of making the public think he was weak.

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Which president has a middle initial that doesn't actually stand for anything?

Yep, Presidents Truman and Grant both have an extraneous middle initial! In Grant's case it was because his mother's maiden name was Simpson and a clerk made an error, but it's really not clear what happened with Truman.

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Which president brought about the New Deal?

FDR realized that the way government had been working up to his tenure was leaving too many people out of wealth-building structures that enabled them to get ahead and maximize their potential - and that this was holding back the economy. The New Deal was all about ensuring fairer wages, health care and education for as many as possible.

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Which president first promised that America would put a man on the moon by the end of that decade?

JFK promised that there would be a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and so there was! He did not live to see it, though.

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How many presidents died in office from natural causes?

That's right - four presidents died in office of natural causes. They are Zachary Taylor, Warren G Harding, FDR and William Henry Harrison.

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How many presidents died in office from violent causes?

Four presidents were shot dead in office: William H. McKinley, James Garfield, JFK and Abraham Lincoln.

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How many presidents were also freemasons?

Fourteen presidents have been Freemasons, which means belonging to a fraternity of men who believe in a higher power and have an international network of fellows. This has understandably led to an amazing array of conspiracy theories.

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Which is the first president to be divorced twice?

Donald Trump holds the distinction of being the only president to be divorced twice. He met his second wife during his first marriage and began an affair. The second marriage did not last long and that wife, Marla Maples, had very little to do with him afterward, raising their child with almost no input. Despite infidelities, his third marriage has lasted to the current time. This also means he is the only president with five children by three mothers.

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Which of the following presidents to win the office also won the popular vote?

Bill Clinton swept to office with a substantial victory in the popular vote and the electoral college. Five presidents have lost the popular vote but took office anyway: the second Adams, the second Harrison, the second Bush, plus Hayes and Trump.

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Which president's tomb is in Manhattan's Riverside Park, near 120th Street?

Grant's Tomb used to be the most popular tourist attraction in Manhattan due to his heroism in bringing about the end of the Civil War. You can still visit it today.

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Which president is the heftiest?

Taft was so large that a special chair was made for him when he visited Mission Inn in Riverside, CA. It is still on display there. He also had a special giant bathtub.

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Which president was first to be impeached?

Johnson was impeached for illegally removing his Secretary of War, but survived in office due to the Senate acquitting him. Likewise Clinton was impeached for lying about his sex life but was acquitted.

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Of the following presidents, which one was born a U.S. citizen?

Yep, that's correct: Our first seven presidents were not born U.S. citizens, as the USA did not exist at the time of their birth. Since Martin van Buren, 100% of U.S. presidents were born American citizens on American soil.

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Which president was known as Old Hickory?

Andrew Jackson was a military man who became president and duly continued about his affairs like someone who was still running an army. Among his most memorable deeds was the Trail of Tears, whereby he forcibly relocated five Native American tribes across thousands of miles of American land, thus resulting in tens of thousands of deaths.

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Which president was the richest to hold the office?

The wealthiest president was the first: George Washington, then the richest man in the colonies. Other presidents have been very rich, or got rich out of office. While Trump certainly lays claim to billions, it was revealed that his company revenues were only 1/9th of what he had reported to the press, and that he admitted to valuing his own name's brand as being worth several billion and changing depending on "how I feel."

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Which president said, "I must study Politics and War that my sons may have liberty to study Painting and Poetry, Mathematics and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematics and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Music, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelain"?

John Adams wrote these beautiful words to his wife, describing his hopes for his descendants. They must have done something right, as one of their sons also became president - though the others did not fare so well, with alcoholism running amok throughout the family tree.

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How many presidents had the same last name as another president, whether related or not?

Presidents with matching last names include: Harrison, Adams, Johnson, Roosevelt, and Bush. All were related to the one with the matching name except the Johnsons.

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How many presidents were called James?

Yep, America has had six presidents called James! They are: Buchanan, Polk, Madison, Monroe, Garfield and Carter. The latter went by "Jimmy" but was christened James.

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Which two presidents died on the exact same day?

Adams and Jefferson hated each other, but couldn't get away from each other. Fittingly, they were thus forced to share a date of death to make them have neighboring obituaries. They died on July 4th 1826.

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Which president was also a Supreme Court justice?

Taft held office as POTUS from 1907-1913 and was head of SCOTUS from 1921-1930. He remains the only person to hold both offices.

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Which president was later a senator?

The first Johnson felt that his election to the Senate undid the bad taste left by his tattered presidency. However he is still regarded as a terrible president due to his opposition to human rights for African-Americans.

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Which is the first president recorded speaking on film?

Calvin Coolidge was notorious for being a quiet sort of person, but he still holds the honor of being the first president to be recorded speaking on film. There is silent footage of earlier presidents and there are voice recordings, but not the two together.

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Which is the first president whose voice was recorded?

Harrison's voice was recorded on an Edison phonograph wax cylinder in the first year of his presidency. You can go on YouTube and check out the recording for yourself! It's brief but significant.

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Which is the only unmarried president?

James Buchanan was not married during his life and it is believed that his close personal friend William Rufus King was in fact his lover. Harriet Lane, his niece, performed the duties of first lady during his term in office.

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Which president served the shortest term?

It is believed that William Henry Harrison contracted pneumonia from the giving of his inaugural speech in arctic temperatures, without wearing a coat. He lasted a mere 30 days.

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Of those in the right age bracket to fight in Vietnam, how many American presidents actually did?

It's true: zero American presidents fought in Vietnam. Of the three who were the right age to serve ,Clinton and the younger Bush managed to get posted stateside and thus were allowed to serve without going to Vietnam. Trump managed to get five deferments and thus did not serve.

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Which president was the first to be photographed?

A daguerreotype of John Quincy Adams was taken in 1842. This was some years after he was in office.

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Which president was the first to hold a live press conference on TV?

JFK gave the first of these, of course: He was always very media-savvy and embraced television as the most powerful marketing tool ever created.

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How many presidents have resigned from office?

Richard Nixon is currently the first and only president to resign from office. Others died, as we have established, but he's the only one to leave early while able to do so under his own steam.

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How many presidents served in World War II?

Eight American presidents saw active duty during the Second World War, heroically beating back the threat of the Nazis and imperial Japan. They are: George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, JFK, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson. Eisenhower's service was the most notable, as he commanded the entire Allied army. Carter's was probably least notable as he was a mere midshipman at the Naval Academy, but that's a little unfair as he wasn't old enough to deploy yet: if the war had continued, he would certainly have fought.

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Which president served two nonconsecutive terms?

Cleveland served two terms but not together. He is typically counted as two presidents for this reason, which results in some serious confusion among many people counting our leaders!

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Which president was first to have a Christmas tree in the White House?

Franklin Pierce was an absolutely awful president in many ways, as he regarded the Abolitionist movement as a threat to the nation and wrought the Kansas-Nebraska Compromise which helped extended the lifetime of slavery as an institution. He also enforced the Fugitive Slave Act, which returned many escaped slaves to the South. That said, he did have a Christmas tree, which is a nice tradition that has been upheld by presidents since.

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Which president was the first one to pardon a turkey?

George H.W. Bush was the first president to pardon a turkey. However the tradition of sparing a bird on Thanksgiving goes back to the days of FDR and the 1940s.

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Who shot James Garfield?

While the assassins of the other presidents shot in office are household names and conspiracy theory staples, Guiteau is virtually unknown. Likewise the shooter of McKinley, Leon Czolgosz.

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