The 28th President of the United States was narrowly re-elected to a second term in 1916, running on a campaign of, "Hey, I kept us out of the war!" Of course, he never actually promised to stay out of the war and in April of 1917, American boys were headed overseas to fight the Kaiser.
In order to do his part for the war effort at home, Wilson brought in a flock sheep to graze the White House lawn which allowed the administration to do away with the groundskeeper and his crew, quite possibly the first migrant workers who were actually removed from a menial job no one else wanted to do.
Among the flock was Old Ike, an ornery ol' ram with a penchant for tobacco. Who exactly supplied the ram with the cigarette butts and black lumps of chewing tobacco is up for discussion, but at a time when the stuff was being handed out to kids on Halloween, it couldn't have been too hard to come by.
Anyway, he went about his business on the White House lawn, boinking the sheep until there were 18 of 'em, munching away at the grass and supplying wool which was auctioned off to help the Salvation Army, a group whose beliefs prevented members from drinking and smoking. Old Ike was not a member.
And so, Old Ike kept watch over his flock and swallowed copious amounts of tobacco. Finally he had the mother of all a nicotine fits which ultimately claimed his life. Now we're not promoting either tobacco use or promiscuous sex, but you have to admit that Ike the Ram was cool before the country even knew what cool was.
The grizzly bear, now affectionately known as nature's surprisingly agile killing machine, was discovered by the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark; two men with balls of steel, who were ordered by then president, Thomas Jefferson, to head west to find out just what the hell was out there.
In a grammatically incorrect expedition journal entry, Clark described the first encounter:
"In the evening we saw a Brown or Grisley beare on a sand beech, I went out with one man Geo Drewyer & Killed the bear, which was verry large and a turrible looking animal, which we found verry hard to kill... This animal is the largest of the carnivorous kind I ever saw..."
A keen observation from a serious explorer who can't spell worth shit: This was an animal not to be trifled with. The memo, however, was not sent to Captain Zebulon Pike who headed his own expedition later. The Brent Spiner lookalike...
... was able to acquire a couple of grizzly bear cubs which he promptly sent to President Jefferson as either a gift or an assassination attempt.
Well aware of the animal's temperament, Jefferson decided to keep the cubs anyway, describing them as "perfectly gentle" with a taste for "Indian bread" and possibly Indians, too. As all good bear cubs do, they grew too big and Jefferson decided to have them shipped to a museum in Philadelphia, storing them in cages on the White House lawn for several months until all the arrangements could be made.
Needless to say, the bears were good and pissed off upon arrival. One broke free and managed to corner the museum owner in the kitchen, upon which the animal was promptly shot dead. They shot the other one dead, too, since once you get into the bear-shooting groove it's actually really hard to stop. They then stuffed both corpses and threw them up for display, probably to serve as an example and a warning to all other bears.
John Quincy Adams
Marquis de Lafayette, the famous French military officer who served as a general for the colonies during the Revolutionary War, returned to America later in life to pay a visit to President John Quincy Adams. Adams was a surly man that few in Congress admired and who enjoyed swimming naked in the Potomac in the wee hours of the morning, earning him the nickname "shrinky-dink" .
"I WAS IN THE POOL!"
Lafayette brought with him that day a gift for President Adams: two alligators. It's unknown what possessed Lafayette to hand deliver the gators but it can be surmised there was a lost in translation moment somewhere along the way, resulting in a pair of real alligators instead of, say, alligator shoes.
Whatever the case, Adams certainly knew just what to do with the reptiles: He put them in the White House bathtub, then invited government officials to his place. Hilarity ensued when members of Congress and others asked to be excused to use the lavatory.
We like to imagine Adams leaning to a trusted adviser and asking, "Why do you suppose I am so despised in the Congress?" only to have the adviser's answer cut off by a Congressman running from the bathroom, his pants around his knees and shrieking, "AAAAHHHRRRGGHH!! AN ALLIGATOR HAS JUST TRIED TO EAT MY NOBLE SCROTUM!"
At which point, Adams leaned back with a nice, hearty laugh.
If that wasn't enough to convince you we've put some pretty great men in the White House, then check out The 5 Most Badass Presidents of All-Time. Or find out about some adorable animals that can totally kick your ass in The 6 Cutest Animals That Can Still Destroy You.
And visit Cracked.com's Top Picks because we have pet alligators, too.