Preface

One evening Calvin Coolidge took a short walk around the White House grounds with Senator Selden P. Spencer of Missouri. As they were returning, Spencer pointed to the Executive Mansion and said facetiously: I wonder who lives there." "Nobody," said "Silent Cal" glumly. "They just come and go." 1

Coolidge exaggerated. There were never any real "nobodies" in the White House, though some of its occupants displayed modest abilities indeed. Many of the White House tenants, however, possessed talents and skills worthy of respect in any time and place; and some were unusually gifted. Even the most undistinguished are not without interest. Coolidge himself came and went without leaving much of an imprint on American history. But some of the remarks he made and many of the anecdotes told about him have amused and delighted Americans for decades.

This is a book of anecdotes about the forty-one Presidents of the United States, commencing with that aristocratic Virginian, George Washington, and ending with that amiable Arkansan, Bill Clinton. Some of the anecdotes are dramatic in nature and a few are rather poignant. Most, however, are on the light side. Though our Presidents (except for Abraham Lincoln) were not noted especially for their wit and humor, many of the things they said and did were amusing to their contemporaries and still seem funny today. Some of the incidents recounted here tell us a great deal, I think, about our

-xi-

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