Monday, January 16, 2006

Presidents of the United States -- Trivia

Presidents of the United States -- Trivia. This is a nice collection of presidential trivia collected by the Internet Public Library.

Here is their description:

"We get a lot of questions from patrons who are curious about different aspects of the U.S. presidency. These patrons may not be aware of the extensive resource about the presidency that resides right here at the IPL: POTUS: Presidents of the United States. POTUS includes "background information, election results, cabinet members, presidency highlights, and some odd facts on each of the presidents. Links to biographies, historical documents, audio and video files, and other presidential sites are also included to enrich this site." We definitely encourage people interested in the Presidency to use POTUS. (If you want to find information resources beyond POTUS, see IPL’s U.S. Presidents Pathfinder.)"

"We have received some questions about the presidency so frequently, however, that we have decided to include them with their answers below."

I take issue with two of the answers though.

The first is this:

Q: I understand that there was a President of the United States that served for only 24 hours. Do you know anything about this?

A: David Rice Atchison, a mid-19th century Senator from Missouri who, according to RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT and other sources, was president of the U.S. for one day: Sunday, March 4, 1849, between the expiration of James Polk’s term at noon of that day and the official oath of office taken by Zachary Taylor on Monday. The law at that time specified that the President was to be sworn in on March 4th, a date that fell on a Sunday in 1849; but President-elect Taylor refused to be sworn in on the Sabbath (Sunday). Atchison had been elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate a couple of days before and was thus technically third in line of succession behind the President and Vice President, of which (arguably) on that day were nonexistent.

My response: David Rice Atchison never took the oath of office on March 4th, 1849 either. It does not matter that he was third in line to the presidency. There was no president on March 4th, 1849 if the basis of this answer is on who took an oath of office to be president.

The second is this:

Q: Which president was not a citizen of the U.S.A. when he died?

A: The one president who was not a U.S. citizen when he died was the 10th President, John Tyler. A native of Virginia, he died in that state on Jan. 18, 1862 as a citizen of the Southern Confederacy.

My response: The Confederacy lost the Civil War. During it's brief existence, it failed to achieve recognition by most of the countries of the world. It was called the Civil War because Americans fought Americans. The USA never recognized the legal right of the CSA to even exist. Tyler may have believed he was not an American citizen when he died but he still was.


Bryan said...

Good answers. I hate it when people try to act sly and sneak in some half-trick questions.

That question about which president was not a US resident when he died leans too heavily on twisting definitions. Like you said, the United States was still one country, regardless what the South called itself.

Jennie W said...

I think the better question to ask about John Tyler was did he think he was a US other words, how much of a rebel was he? Otherwise, as you and Bryan said it is a moot point. If he died, though, seriously seeing himself as separated from the US, I think it tells us something interesting about Tyler.

Here's a question - which presidents were not born US citizens?

It is actually quite a few - George Washingon, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and William Henry Harrison were all born before 1776 - so technically they were born in British colonies (and you can actually probably push this date to the signing of the Constitution if you want). And then, of course, people like to argue if Andrew Jackson was actually born at sea.