6 Presidential Secrets Your History Teacher Didn't Mention

#3. Thomas Jefferson Couldn't Speak in Public

We know him as the main author of the Declaration of Independence, and one of the most influential of the Founding Fathers (if not the most). Besides being totally awesome at writing stuff, Jefferson also designed houses with swivel chairs and automatic doors and even invented the portable printing press. In addition, he also founded the University of Virginia, just because he could.


See: the same reason he built Monticello.

JFK even famously said the combined abilities of 49 Nobel Prize winners couldn't compare to the brainpower of a lone Thomas Jefferson. Such was the badassery of Jefferson that Kennedy even said that to their faces.

But you didn't know ...

Thomas Jefferson was a terrible public speaker. Not only was he neither charismatic nor eloquent, but the man was a walking cloud of stage fright. Some historians think he had a stuttering problem.


He was also a bit of a drama queen.

He had to add accent marks to his draft of the Declaration of Independence so that he could read it out loud without shitting himself. Throughout his presidency, he gave only two speeches -- one speech per term, and both were at his inaugurations.


We'd hesitate to go out in public with a hair pyramid like that, too.

As a result, Jefferson also pioneered the strategy of sending the State of the Union address to Congress in writing rather than delivering it in person, a tradition that would survive until Woodrow Wilson.

Jefferson made up for his lack of stage presence in the same way that bad metal bands do -- by wearing ridiculous clothes. His pants were a hideous shade of red, and he often looked like he had dressed in the dark. He'd intentionally wear ridiculously out-of-fashion clothes, with different styles randomly thrown together in a way that was impossible not to notice.


T.J., seen here peacocking like a pro.

That's right, Thomas Jefferson was a hipster.

#2. John Quincy Adams Was a Little Insane

John Quincy Adams was the son of the second U.S. president, John Adams, so they were kind of like the Bush family of their time.


Cheney acted as an adviser to both administrations.

He was widely lauded as the best diplomat ever. Before he became President, he was instrumental in the acquisition of Florida under president James Monroe. He also had a big part in writing the Monroe Doctrine, which was a ballsy declaration that basically told Europe to fuck off.

As president, he was a vocal opponent of slavery and supported education advancement, which could make one think that his failure to get re-elected was due to his simply being too smart -- and too ahead of his time -- for the voting public.


It didn't help that he had Gary Busey Eyes.

But you didn't know ...

John Quincy Adams thought the Earth was hollow. He greenlighted an expedition to prove it, at taxpayer expense.


If the venture had been successful, America's Mushroom Reserve would have been secured for generations.

It all started with John Cleves Symmes Jr., a U.S. Army officer who added a "Junior" to his name to distinguish himself from his similarly named uncle and possibly spare him some significant embarrassment.

Symmes spent his entire life advocating his hollow-Earth theory on the literary circuit and gained quite a few followers. True, those were simpler times, but they sure as hell weren't that simple -- the hollow-Earth theory was already known to be utter bullshit. What Symmes proposed was the 1800s equivalent to sending people to the moon to find cheese. He wanted to mount an expedition to silence his critics and also to conduct trade with the mole people.


Unfortunately for Adams, the Mole People and the Crab People went to war shortly thereafter. The resultant conflict came to be known as "America's Secret Underground Vietnam."

Adams approved the expedition, which would venture to the North Pole, where the entrance to the underworld was supposedly located. Unfortunately, the crazy road trip never came to be, as Adams left office before anything could be done. As luck would have it, his successor, Andrew Jackson, was a man who believed the world was flat. Naturally, Jackson promptly canceled the expedition and along with it, dashing of contacting mole people.

#1. George Washington Kind of Sucked at War

It's impossible to know what America would look like if there had never been a George Washington, but it almost certainly would suck.


There'd be less weed and more British people.

He was the only unanimously elected U.S. president, and rightfully so. He set the tone for the presidency (including inventing the Cabinet system and starting the tradition of the inaugural address). Before he was president, he was also a soldier who was so awesome in the Revolutionary War that King George called him the "greatest character of his age." We wouldn't presume to argue with that.


The man had more style than our last 10 presidents combined.

But you didn't know ...

George Washington was simply not a good military commander. Sure, he was great at the political aspects of the job and made a great symbol for people to rally around, but when it came to strategy, he simply lost virtually every major battle that he fought. It was true even going back to his pre-Revolution days with the British army. Once, when sent to capture a French fort, his men accidentally opened fire on another British unit instead. Then, during the Revolution, his major early accomplishments involved being really good at retreating (such as successfully getting his men away after being soundly beaten in the largest engagement of the war, the Battle of Long Island).


Where he started the beloved American tradition of tearing down statues to distract people from military difficulties.

He did lead the famous surprise Christmas attack across the Delaware River in 1776, but just nine months later, he was almost fired as general because he lost the city of Philadelphia when the British Gen. Howe outmaneuvered him. It took a whole lot of help from the French to eventually win the war. Then again, history records not a single instance of him showing his dick to anybody, so there's that.


Which, based on this painting, would have been roughly four feet long.

Ethan Lou blogs at http://ethanethan.tumblr.com/ and you can contact him at ethan.lou@live.com.

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