Americans have always been fascinated with the lives of the Presidents. In fact, it is now de rigueur for administrations to collect even the most mundane objects associated with the lives of these powerful men and archive them for posterity so that we can all go gawk at their personal treasures from behind a velvet rope.
There’s so much that has been collected and preserved – pens used to sign off on wars, chairs from which great speeches were given – but we’re not interested in any of that. Instead, we trolled the archives to bring you some of the weirdest, coolest, creepiest Presidential detritus we could find.
Love this little guy! This taxidermy alligator was a gift to FDR from Lieutenant Commander Thomas W. Walsh, who was the leader of a Navy amphibious unit.
You may be familiar with this one – it served as the backdrop for the second Republican debate of the 2016 election season, held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. This Boeing 707 – known by call sign SAM 27000 – served as Air Force One for Presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush Jr. The plane is a big draw for the library, though its interior design inspiration seems to draw from your grandparent’s RV circa 1986. There’s even a jar of (probably stale) candy!
Cheers: Honest Abe was the only president who was also a licensed bartender. This document was granted to Lincoln and his business partner William Barry in 1833 and it allowed them to operate a tavern and serve alcohol in the store they owned in New Salem, Illinois.
James A. Garfield is one of those presidents that everyone forgets, probably because he was only in office for four months before he was shot by Charles Guiteau. The National Museum of Health and Science displays the portion of Garfield’s spine where the assassin’s bullet passed through.
The museum also has the bullet that killed Lincoln, the brains of both Lincoln and Garfield’s assassins, Eisenhower’s gallstones, and Ulysses S. Grant’s tumor.
These technically aren’t presidential possessions, but they are too creepy to pass up: prison hoods worn by the conspirators involved in Lincoln’s assassination. John Wilkes Booth’s murder of President Lincoln was actually part of a larger plot that was supposed to also include the assassination of Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. Booth was tracked down and killed, but eight others went on trial as conspirators. For security purposes, they were forced to wear these hoods at all times except while in court. It was probably also done just to make them as uncomfortable as possible. Four were later hanged, while the others were sentenced to life in prison.
Booth was tracked down and killed, but eight others went on trial as conspirators. For security purposes, they were forced to wear these hoods at all times except while in court. It was probably also done just to make them as uncomfortable as possible. Four were later hanged, while the others were sentenced to life in prison.
Weird, Tacky, and Downright Bizarre
These cowboy boots certainly make a statement. They were given to recently-elected George W. Bush in 2001 by cobbler Rocky Carroll, who has made dozens of pairs of customized boots for both Bush Sr. and Jr.
The boots with a tux though? It must be a Texas thing…
This letter from banker H.L. Perry to Richard Nixon, housed at the Nixon Presidential Library, reads:
I am writing you this short note to ask you if you would like to be a candidate for Congress on the Republican ticket in 1946.
Jerry Voorhies expects to run – registration is about 50-50. The Republicans are gaining.
Please airmail me your reply if you are interested.
Your very truly,
Nixon did run and he won the seat. He then became a senator for California, then the Vice-President to Dwight Eisenhower, and then, in 1969, the 37th President. And we all know what happened from there…
These could have also gone in the Creepy category – they look like they could have been a prop in one of the Saw movies. These primitive-looking dentures belonged to the first President and are part of the collections at Mount Vernon. They are made of human, cow, and horse teeth, elephant ivory, silver, and brass.