In January 1909, while he was still president-elect, Taft attended a celebratory banquet in Atlanta. Asked what he preferred to eat, Taft requested "possum and taters." And so they fed the future president sweet potatoes topped with an 18-pound cooked opossum, which Taft reportedly gobbled up with such rapacious delight that his lawyer had to tell him to pace himself.
This is where the ridiculous (and short-lived) idea of replacing teddy bears with 'billy possums' came from.
9. Duel and unusual.
Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) is best known for the trail of tears, his dreadful temper, and being on the $20 bill. But he was also a bird lover. In particular, Jackson had a pet parrot that he taught how to curse. Allegedly, the parrot was in attendance at Jackson’s funeral, but had to be removed because it kept cawing four-letter words while the president was being laid to rest.
Jackson was also an unusually prolific dueller, even by the standards of his time. It’s estimated that he was involved in approximately 100 duels. On one occasion, Jackson took a bullet so close to his heart that it could not be safely removed. It stayed lodged in his chest for the rest of his life.
10. Hostile takeover.
In the long and salacious history of the presidency, John Tyler (1841-45) is possibly the most unsavory person ever to occupy the office. Tyler was not elected. He took over the office after his predecessor, William Henry Harrison, died 33 days into his presidency.
At that time, it had not been established that the vice-president should take over for the president if he were unable to perform his duties. But John Tyler wasted no time in seizing his opportunity. Without seeking the consent of his cabinet, Tyler declared himself president.
And what a president he was. He was wildly unpopular, even among his own party (from which he was expelled). He drove almost his entire cabinet to resign in protest of his policies. He was the first president to face impeachment proceedings. Worst of all, when the Civil War broke out, Tyler defected to the Confederacy.
Because he was considered a traitor, Tyler’s death was not even acknowledged by the United States government. The New York Times called him "the most unpopular public man that ever held any office in the United States." In his obituary.