Presidents’ Day Historical Quirks

Happy Presidents' Day!

While you may shake your head at unconventional tweeting, what would you think about John Quincy Adams who took full advantage of the White House's proximity to the Potomac River by wading through the river nude almost daily at 5:00 a.m.? Or Warren Harding who really liked to gamble, and in one poker game bet the White House china collection and lost it all, in one hand. How about a President Herbert Hoover who spoke Mandarin Chinese fluently with his family and would speak Chinese around the White House to prevent others from understanding them?

Ulysses S. Grant

Imagine the news feeds of today if a sitting president (as was the case with Ulysses S. Grant), was locked up and fined $20 for a speeding ticket for riding his horse too fast?

We remember Ulysses S. Grant and all our past presidents today with honor for their considerable accomplishments.

While Donald Trump is the oldest president in history to take office (age 70), Ulysses S. Grant was then the youngest president of his time, elected for a first term at the age 46.

He is celebrated as a war hero and recognized for stabilizing the nation during the turbulent Reconstruction period. Sound familiar about the daily turbulence of present day, USA? 

Yet, we cannot grant homage to this historical figure without raising a brow at his equestrian indiscretion.

Are these presidential tidbits of interest to you? Are you a history buff? 

Browse a plethora of historical grants available to nonprofits, students and groups to further knowledge and preservation of history on GrantWatch.com.

Grants to Mississippi Nonprofits, Agencies, and IHEs for Culture, Heritage, and Tourism Promotion

Grants of up to $24,500 Mississippi nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and IHEs to preserve and promote the culture and heritage of the Mississippi Delta region.  Deadline: 3/20/2017

Interested in learning more about Ulysses S. Grant's home state of Ohio?

Grants to Richland County, Ohio K-12 Teachers for Projects in Music, Literature, Writing, and History

Grants ranging from $500 to $1,500 to Richland County, Ohio K-12 teachers for projects in music, literature appreciation, writing, or Ohio history.  Deadline: 4/13/17

The history of the fine and lockup:

From a very young age, Ulysses S. Grant showed great aptitude in horsemanship. Following the expressed dis-interest in working at the family tannery business, he was sent to West Point at the age of 17. Grant had a strong understanding of geology and mathematics, yet struggled in other areas and received several demerits for sloppy dressing. He graduated in 1843, the 21st of 39 West Point graduates. Throughout youth and into his adulthood, Grant continued to excel in horsemanship. 

Are you a horse-lover, too? 

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Contest to win up to $25,000 for USA equine rescues and sanctuaries that hold community events between April 21-26, 2017. The events can be geared toward education, training, or family-friendly fun, and are intended to raise awareness of the plight of homeless horses. Deadline: 4/1/2017

Memoirs from William West, the officer who cited our 18th president for equestrian speeding: 

West caught Grant’s buggy booking it at “a furious pace” past the corner of M and 13th Streets. America’s top elected official was almost immediately pulled over. 

“Mister President,” said West, “I want to tell you that you were violating the law by driving at reckless speed. Your fast driving, sir, has set the example for a lot of other gentlemen. It is endangering the lives of the people who have to cross the street in this locality. Only this evening a lady was knocked down by one of the racing teams.” Duly reprimanded, Grant apologized and promised that it wouldn’t happen again. 

Less than twenty-four hours later, it did. 

West again caught the Commander in Chief flying at breakneck speed over the same stretch of road. “Do you think, officer, that I was violating the speed laws?” asked Grant.

“I certainly do, Mr. President,” replied West. After reminding Grant of his broken vow, he added, “I am very sorry, Mr. President, to have to do it, for you are the nation’s chief executive, but my duty is plain, sir: I shall have to place you under arrest!”

Grant's exact response has been lost to history—though many claim that he reacted admirably, encouraging West to “Do your duty, my good man.” West escorted him to the police station, where the leader who had helped win the Civil War was swiftly booked and fined.   

Fortunately, there were no hard feelings on either man's part. A fellow horse-lover, West ultimately befriended the president. The pair would often get together and, during one of their many chats, the lawman made an awkward admission: before joining the force, he’d been a speed demon himself.  –Mental Floss

Happy Presidents' Day from the GrantWatch.com family!

Remember to ride and drive safely. 

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch.com and Affiliate Sites

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