The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

February 18, 2013

QUIZ: Test your presidential knowledge

It's Presidents' Day, and I suddenly find myself obsessed with John Tyler, the nation's 10th president, who served from 1841 to 1845.

Did you know that Tyler had more children than any other president? He had 15, helped by the fact that after his first wife, Letitia, died, he married Julia Gardiner, 24, who was 30 years his junior.

So, John Tyler: a player.

And also: a traitor.

Tyler was from Virginia, and when the Civil War broke out he was elected to the Confederate Congress, an act of treason against the country he had once served.

Those factoids, and a lot more, are in "The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia." I'm sure the Obamas keep a copy in the White House bathroom.

But really, trivia? Isn't the presidency the most hallowed office in the land? Should we be trivializing it, literally?

"It's just an access point that people can get into to learn more about American history, to spark their interest and larger curiosity," said Harry Rubenstein, a curator of political history at the National Museum of American History. He's among contributors to the book, which was written by Amy Pastan.

Harry said he's useless at remembering trivia — the first, the fattest, the tallest — but many people love that sort of thing.

"Those little bits just take these mythic figures and make them a little less mythic, hopefully a little more human," Harry said.

Florence Harding was accused of poisoning her husband! Teddy Roosevelt endorsed a brand of traveler's checks! Gerald Ford was a fashion model!

Then there's my fave — John Tyler, who with his first lady pops up in the book in the weirdest ways. Before she became fertile young wife No. 2, Julia Gardiner scandalized New York society by posing for an advertisement. Of course, they didn't have cameras back then, and she wasn't even shilling for something unmentionable like corsets or opium. She was depicted in an engraving on the arm of a young man while on her handbag was written an ad for a department store: "I'll purchase at Bogert and Mecamly's, No. 86 Ninth Avenue. Their Goods are Beautiful and Astonishingly Cheap."

Text Only
Top News
  • Fist bump photo Study: Fist bumps less germy than handshakes

    When it comes to preventing the spread of germs, maybe the president is on to something with his fondness for fist bumps.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rodden, Danny.jpg Indiana sheriff accused of lying about relationship with prostitute

    The sheriff of Clark County, Ind., faces an eight-count federal indictment that accuses him of lying about paying a prostitute for a sex act and giving her a badge so that she could claim a discount rate at a hotel.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clinton judge hears motion to suppress in drug case

    District Court Judge Stuart Werling will consider a motion of suppression against a warrant that led to the arrest of a Clinton man on drug charges.

    July 30, 2014

  • David Johnson Clinton grad, NDSU picked to lead MVC

     David Johnson, the former Clinton High standout now entering his senior season at the University of Northern Iowa, was named to the preseason All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first team that was announced Tuesday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • School supplies offered at events

    With students going back to school soon, Clinton families will have two opportunities to receive free back-to-school supplies.

    July 30, 2014

  • Showboat follies Iafrate set to leave Showboat Theatre

    As the summer season nears its end, the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre on Tuesday honored the past and said hello to the future.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sidewinders photo Debating decibels: Finally Fridays, Showboat at odds over concert volume

    Two events will take center stage at the riverfront Friday. And if it’s anything like the last time these entities shared the same evening, both crowds may want to take note of the decibel levels coming from the bandshell.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140727-AMX-GUNS271.jpg Beretta, other gun makers heading to friendlier states

    In moving south and taking 160 jobs with it, Beretta joins several other prominent gunmakers abandoning liberal states that passed tough gun laws after the Newtown shooting.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video