To celebrate Presidents’ Day, we’re sharing fun presidential and vice presidential trivia, developed by our Family Programs Teen Leaders, who are part of our Student Historian Internship Program. Test your own knowledge, or grab a friend or family member for an epic showdown!
1. Who was the first President to live in the White House?
- George Washington
- Rutherford B. Hayes
- John Adams
2. Vice presidents have been called “presidents in waiting.” How many of our vice presidents went on to become the president?
3. Which president gave the “Berlin Wall” speech, with the iconic phrase “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”?
- Ronald Reagan
- John Adams
- Harry S. Truman
4. William McKinley had a pet parrot while in office. True or false?
5. To be sworn in as president, a person must swear on the Bible. True or false?
6. Lots of politicians are known for their nicknames. Former Vice President John Adams had a ridiculous nickname. He was known as:
- Big John
- Little Round
- His Rotundity
7. Which of the following presidents is still the tallest U.S. president ever?
- Lyndon B. Johnson
- Abraham Lincoln
- Joe Biden
8. Which president had an alligator for a pet which he kept in its very own bathtub?
- John Quincy Adams
- Harry S. Truman
- Barack Obama
9. When John Adams was vice president, he proposed the idea of addressing President George Washington as His Highness. True or false?
10. Which state has been the birthplace of the most vice presidents? A total of eight former vice presidents called this state home.
- New York
11. Which state is known as the “Mother of Presidents” because it has been the birthplace of eight presidents?
12. Where does the vice president live?
- 10 Freedom Drive in Philadelphia, PA
- 1 Observatory Circle in Washington, D.C.
- 5 Washington Way in Washington, D.C.
13. Which president holds the record for signing the most executive orders?
- Woodrow Wilson
- Calvin Coolidge
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
14. If a president passes away or is unable to perform their duties, the vice president then becomes the new president until the end of that term. True or false?
15. Who was the first president to be impeached?
- Donald Trump
- Andrew Johnson
- Ronald Reagan
Find the answers at the end of this blog post.
We asked our Teen Leaders to tell us who their favorite presidents are. Check out their choices below!
Luciana is a junior at the Queens High School for the Sciences at York College. She’s also a Family Programs Teen Leaders at the N-YHS. Her favorite activities are making crafts, baking, and visiting museums—like the New-York Historical Society!
My favorite president is Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president. He was a very influential man from New York. One of the most unusual facts about his career was that he ran for president—and won—four times. Before him, it was customary for presidents to only run for two terms, following the example set by the first president, George Washington.
However there was no law that prohibited anyone from running for president more than twice. Roosevelt noticed this, and decided to continue running for president well after his second term had ended. He won the election for both his third and fourth terms, though he died only 82 days into his last term. As a result of his time in office, a law was passed to limit the number of terms a president could be in office. All future presidents were only allowed to serve for two terms.
During Roosevelt’s terms in office, the U.S. went through two incredibly challenging times: the Great Depression and World War II.
These were very chaotic times, so it was imperative that the U.S. government was as strong and functional as possible to protect the people. Knowing this, Roosevelt created a series of programs known as the New Deal. Though serving for four terms had surrounded his name with controversy, I think his impact on the country both during his time through today will always be remembered and treasured.
Sumaya is 16 years old and has been part of the Student Historian internship program at the N-YHS since the summer of 2019. She is currently a junior at the Professional Performing Arts School where she studies acting. When she isn’t performing or working at the museum, she is usually reading a non-fiction book or listening to her favorite music. Sumaya especially loves to listen to jazz artists like John Coltrane or Neo-Soul singers like Erykah Badu.
My favorite president is our country’s 35th President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy (often referred to as J.F.K.). He was born on May 29, 1917, in Massachusetts to a wealthy political family. He attended Harvard University, Class of 1940, before joining the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1941. Kennedy served as a commander during World War II and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his service. After serving in the military, he entered politics. During the seven years he served as a Senator he published his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Profiles in Courage.
In 1960, Kennedy ran for president against Richard Nixon and won, making him the first Catholic president in American history. As president, Kennedy was confronted with many complicated political and social issues, including the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, immigration, and civil rights. He advocated for the rights of immigrants and fought for civil rights at a time when the country was very divided. Kennedy is also known for presiding over the establishment of the Peace Corps and the continuation of the Apollo Space Program.
Unfortunately, on November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX. He was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald while traveling in a presidential motorcade with his wife, Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy. Following Kennedy’s death, his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson took office as the 36th President. Congress passed many of Kennedy’s proposals including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
Courtney is a Family Programs Teen Leader at the New-York Historical Society. She loves to visit the Little New-Yorkers program on Fridays with her little sister. Her favorite part of New-York Historical is the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps. In her free time, she enjoys keeping up to date with the news, writing short stories, reading, painting, and watching movies. Her favorite books growing up were the Harry Potter series and A Series of Unfortunate Events.
A president who deserves recognition for his service to his country would be President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President and first Republican to hold the office. Lincoln is remembered as the president who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which changed the trajectory of this country for the better. He is also renowned for his famous Gettysburg Address which perfectly captured the nation’s strife and continued fight for democracy, freedom, and equality.
Lincoln was born in Hardin County, KY, and grew up in poverty. His life was marred by personal tragedy beginning at a young age when he lost his mother and later when three of his children would die before they reached adulthood. Lincoln would become a self-made lawyer with political aspirations. He held firm to his beliefs, even though they hurt his reputation multiple times in his career.
Lincoln was against expanding the institution of slavery into the new territories acquired by the U.S. and used his conviction to help strengthen and form the Republican Party to be a serious contender in the Election of 1860. His hard line against expanding slavery was a large factor in the South seceding and forming their own country soon after he was elected.
Lincoln was tasked with one of the most monumental challenges any president has ever had to face, leading a country that was heavily divided on the future of slavery. He had two options: move forward as a country without the secessionist states or go to war to stop the Confederacy. He picked the latter. Lincoln made mistakes and at times struggled to keep up the morale for what is the bloodiest American war ever, but he led the Union to victory and continued to be a strong proponent for ending slavery. His decision to support the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment started to address America’s dark history of enslavement. I hold the accomplishments of President Lincoln in high regard, and consider him as a true supporter of “all men are created equal”.
Trivia question answers:
1. Who was the first President to live in the White House? John Adams
2. Vice presidents have been called “Presidents in Waiting.” How many of our vice presidents went on to become the President? 15
3. Which president gave the Berlin Wall speech, with the iconic phrase “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”? Ronald Reagan
4. William McKinley had a pet parrot while in office. True or false? TRUE (The parrot’s name was Washington Post and could whistle Yankee Doodle Dandy. He was also appointed Official White House Greeter.)
5. To be sworn in as a U.S. president, a person must swear on the Bible. True or false? FALSE (Due to the 1st Amendment, which protects the freedom of religion, a person can swear on any text, such as the Quran, or even a law book, as John Quincy Adams did when he was being sworn in.)
6. Lots of politicians are known for their nicknames. Former Vice President John Adams had a ridiculous nickname. He was known as: His Rotundity.
7. Which of the following presidents is the tallest to serve, to this day? Abraham Lincoln (he was 6′ 3 ¾”)
8. Which president had an alligator for a pet which he kept in its very own bathtub? John Quincy Adams
9. When John Adams was vice president, he proposed the idea of addressing President Washington as His Highness. True or false? TRUE
10. Which state has been the birthplace of the most vice presidents? A total of eight former vice [residents called this state home. New York
11. Which state is known as the “Mother of Presidents” because it has been the birthplace of eight presidents? Virginia
12. Where does the vice president live while in office? 1 Observatory Circle in Washington, D.C.
13. Which president holds the record for signing the most Executive Orders? Franklin D. Roosevelt (He signed a total of 3,721.)
14. If a [resident passes away or is unable to perform their duties, the vice president then becomes the new president until the end of that term. True or false? TRUE
15. Who was the first president to be impeached? Andrew Johnson
Top Image: Keith Shaw Williams (1906 – 1951). Inauguration of George Washington at Federal Hall, New York City, 1789. 1938.