Category Archives: Dwight Eisenhower

Trivia Questions About the First Ladies by Gregory Hilton

QUESTIONS
1) Which brilliant First Lady used her own money to send 46 disadvantaged young people to college? The press never knew of her generosity and neither did her husband. He only discovered what she had done after her death. Continue reading

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The Missile and Bomber Gaps: The Grand Deceptions of the 1960 Presidential Campaign by Gregory Hilton

Today in 1961 President Dwight Eisenhower gave his farewell address. The best known portion is when the departing President warned “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Continue reading

Back by Popular Demand: More Presidential Trivia by Gregory Hilton

QUESTIONS
1) A woman taking a tour of the White House was unexpectedly introduced to the President. He asked her to stay for tea and proposed marriage two months later. Who was her husband?

2) Why did Secret Service agents always want to avoid shopping trips with Mamie Eisenhower? For the same reason they did not want to accept gifts from Mrs. Eisenhower. They were not reluctant to watch her favorite soap opera, “Days of Our Lives,” and to tell her about the plot when she was called away.

3) Why did Lynda and Luci Johnson carry flashlights in their bathrobes? Luci converted to the Roman Catholic faith while she was in the White House. Lynda had the first White House wedding in 53 years.

4) During her time as First Lady, how many states west of the Potomac River were visited by Jacqueline Kennedy?

5) Why did President Johnson’s 1965 party in honor of the U.S. Congress, which included several Hollywood stars, begin at 2 am?

6) Vice President Alben Barkley was elected in 1948 but he was not President Harry Truman’s first choice. Who was originally asked to be Truman’s running mate?

7) White House servants noted several significant differences between Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Can you name one of them? It had nothing to do with FDR’s disability.

8) Which President attended 6 Inaugural Balls, but despite pleas from the crowd never danced at any of them? He is the only President who always visited the basement level kitchen after formal events to thank the staff. The answer is not FDR who was unable to dance.

9) Which President never joined any church until after his election? He later said many important decisions were made “on his knees,” and in recent years he has been criticized for combining church and state.

10) President and Mrs. James Monroe enjoyed entertaining and there were frequent Wednesday evening parties at the White House. How did they avoid party crashers?

11) Dwight Eisenhower had never heard of Mrs. Thomas Preston when she was seated next to him at a dinner party. They discussed life in DC and he asked her where she had lived in the nation’s capitol. Mrs. Preston was a resident of the White House for 8 years when she was First Lady. Who was her husband?

12) Why was Ronald Reagan sworn in as Governor of California at midnight?
ANSWERS
1) Woodrow Wilson. The first Mrs. Wilson died in 1914 and he was introduced to Edith Bolling Galt when she was taking a tour of the family quarters in 1915. She was waiting by the elevator when the President emerged after his tennis game. The second Mrs. Wilson died on the morning of December 28, 1961 at the age of 89. It was the day she was scheduled to officially open the Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Potomac River.
2) Mrs. Eisenhower always asked her agents to buy presents for their wives when she was shopping. She could be rather insistent, and she wanted to see what they had purchased. Her gifts were often intended for their wives, and she frequently asked the agents to buy something that would go with it. For example, she would give the agent a bracelet and ask him to buy his wife a ring to accompany her gift. It was expensive for the agents to provide security for Mamie Eisenhower!
3) The Johnson girls carried flashlights because their father insisted on keeping all the overhead lights turned off. It was part of his economy drive, but household costs still increased significantly under LBJ. The big factor was that the White House was no longer able to use bootleg liquor. This was liquor which has been confiscated by the federal government.
4) Mrs. Kennedy frequently took a White House helicopter to her rented “Glen Ora” estate in northern Virginia for horseback riding in 1961. The family built their own estate, “Wexford,” in 1962, but President Kennedy only visited his home on three weekends. He preferred Camp David.
Ironically, Ronald Reagan spent more time at Wexford than John Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy also visited nearby Middleburg and other Virginia hunt country destinations. Until she left for Dallas in 1963, those were the only times she crossed the Potomac River. She never ventured west of northern Virginia prior to that fateful day.
5) The party started late because Congress was in session and LBJ did not want to begin until the House had passed the Lady Bird Johnson Highway Beautification Act which banned billboards on interstate highways.
6) Truman’s first choice for Vice President was Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who turned him down because he thought the President would lose the 1948 election. Douglas had also been FDR’s first choice in 1944.
7) The Truman’s not only remembered names of all the servants but they insisted on introducing the staff to all of their guests. When the waiter brought tea to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, he was introduced to the royal couple. The Truman’s dined together and were often in the same room in the evening hours. That does not appear unusual, but no one could remember Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt being in the same room.
8) Richard Nixon. He did dance at his daughter’s wedding.
9) Dwight Eisenhower, who was responsible for adding “In God We Trust” to the currency.
10) A party crasher would not have had a problem in meeting President Monroe. The butler’s were told to admit anyone who was suitably dressed.
11) The first husband of Mrs. Thomas Preston was President Grover Cleveland. The dinner is described in “At Ease: Stories I Tell to My Friends” by Dwight Eisenhower.
12) Mrs. Reagan’s astrologer, Joan of San Francisco, said midnight would be the best time for an Inauguration.
13) This 1927 photo was taken during the presidency of Calvin Coolidge.

Ten Presidential Trivia Questions by Gregory Hilton

QUESTIONS
1) Which President was able to secretly leave the White House over 20 times without the knowledge of the Secret Service?
2) Which First Family visited the National Gallery of Art and departed with 64 valuable paintings? The same president later visited the Gallery early one morning and was so impressed that he brought his family back after closing time that evening.
3) When Queen Elizabeth II enters Buckingham Palace the Royal Standard is immediately raised, and it is lowered right away when she departs. The same procedure is followed for French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Élysée Palace. Why is this policy not instituted at the White House?
4) Which President received 99% of the vote in South Carolina, 97% in Mississippi but only 51% in Massachusetts?
5) Which First Lady wrote, “Was I the best wife for him, probably not.”
6) Who was our first Roman Catholic First Lady? Her husband was the father of 15 children.
7) Which future president was 32 years old when he proposed marriage to a 15 year old girl? She accepted at first but later broke the engagement.
8) Which two future presidents both proposed marriage to their future wives on the first date?
9) Which future president wrote a letter declaring his absolute refusal to participate in politics? He met secretly with the man who would be his future primary opponent. He planned to give the letter to him, but changed his mind when his opponent would not budge from his isolationist viewpoint.
10) Which First Lady said “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” (Editorial note: She should have added, “and really small minds compile presidential trivia!”)

THE ANSWERS

1) For President Calvin Coolidge avoiding the Secret Service was a game, and he frequently explored the White House to discover new ways to sneak out. When he avoided his security detail he often went for a walk, and it was usually along busy F Street. All of the guards were alerted to the President’s hobby and many times they were able to catch up to him before he had gone too far. The story is told in Starling of the White House by Colonel Edmond Starling.
2) President Harry Truman needed art work in 1945 because the White House walls on the second and third floors were practically bare when the Roosevelt’s moved out after 13 years. Truman’s next visit to the National Gallery was in 1948 to see a special collection of art work which had been initially seized by Nazi Germany.
3) The United States always had the same policy as the UK and France, but this practice was suspended at the outset of WW II when FDR did not want to call attention to his whereabouts. The policy was not resumed when the war ended.
4) Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. It is interesting to note that the cotton South was completely Democratic while Massachusetts came close to being in the Republican column. Gov. Alf Landon (R-KS), the GOP candidate opposing FDR, received only 8 electoral votes, and won just two states, Maine and Vermont. New York had 45 Congressional Districts in those days and Florida had only five seats.
5) Eleanor Roosevelt from her “My Day” newspaper column which appeared just a week after her husband’s death. It is quoted in Eleanor: The Years Alone (1972) by Joseph Lash.
6) Julia Gardiner Tyler, the wife of President John Tyler, converted to the Catholic faith after she left the White House. Jacqueline Kennedy is the only First Lady who was Catholic during her tenure at 1600 Pennsylvania. She was married a second time to a divorced man in a ceremony of his Greek Orthodox faith, thus breaking her faith’s tenets. However, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis did not convert and was buried with full rites of the Catholic Church.
7) Future President James Madison, 32, proposed to 15 year old Catherine “Kitty” Floyd. Her father was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Madison was frequently a guest at their New York plantation. The engagement was called off in the summer of 1783. Madison never again talked of the failed romance and all references to it in past letters to Thomas Jefferson were erased.
8) Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Nixon had a long courtship with Pat Ryan before she agreed to marry him.
9) Dwight Eisenhower was prepared to walk away from the 1952 GOP nomination, but changed his mind when he discovered that Senator Robert Taft (R-OH) was a vigorous opponent of NATO and the Marshall Plan. The story is told in Eisenhower’s At Ease: Stories I Tell to my Friends.
10) Eleanor Roosevelt in The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt.