From playing chess to binging TV series on Netflix, we all have our own hobbies. Some are common and, let’s call a spade a spade, boring. More unusual ones, however, can be quite fascinating. For example, did you know that some people genuinely enjoy watching bug fights (literally bugs fighting it out)? Some people, however, take up some obscure, unusual interests.
Well, it turns out that there’s more unusual hobbies than toy traveling or duck herding. There are people out there who pursue the obscure, the unusual. Notably, US Presidents throughout history have dabbled in activities that you’d likely never consider “normal” per se.
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS – SKINNY-DIPPING
The 6th US President – John Quincy Adams – might not be the most famous US President, but that does not mean he wasn’t… unique. Whenever he could take a breather from presidential duties, he would go, wait for it, skinny-dipping!
He wasn’t shy about his bizarre hobby either. As he wrote in his diary, “I follow this practice [skinny-dipping] for exercise, for health, for cleanliness and for pleasure — I have found it invariably conducive to health, and never experienced from it the slightest inconvenience.”
I mean, who would blame the guy? The Potowmack river (Adams’ favorite skinny-dipping spot) was, after all, a true beauty. What’s more, “skinny-dipping” wasn’t really that shocking a thing back then. Without access to modern bathing suits, people sort of had to bathe naked. Still, from our contemporary perspective, the idea that the president of the United States would go skinny-dipping in a local river seems a tiny bit absurd.
ANDREW JACKSON – WATCHING COCKFIGHTS
Andrew Jackson was undoubtedly a transformational president. During his tenure, America changed drastically, and his focus on empowering regular people defined his presidency. His hobby, however, was far from “regular.” According to multiple sources, the 7th US President enjoyed watching cockfights. Yup, you heard that right. Whereas you might occasionally follow the WWE, Jackson instead opted for enjoying a good bout between two (or more!) roosters. He went as far as to allegedly organize a cockfight inside the White House, bold stuff!
Thankfully, cockfighting is now illegal in every single state. As such, we (probably) won’t ever get a President who enjoys watching cockfights. But who knows, these days.. At the very least, the law should prevent an actual cockfight from ever taking place, especially on the premises of the White House!
ABRAHAM LINCOLN – WRESTLING
When you hear “President,” many things come to mind; old men with big bellies, power-hungry individuals with an ability to excite the masses. Or, more optimistically, wise leaders with a natural ability to wield influence over the decision-making process and rally people in support of policies that improve the everyday lives of citizens. “Wrestling” does not make it on the list. Well, I’m here to change that. One of the most famous Presidents in American history, Abraham Lincoln, was reportedly a “skilled wrestler.” Of course, he hardly had the time to wrestle during his presidency. You know, the Civil War was a big deal back then. Still, it’s quite rare for a US president to be a somewhat professional ex-athlete. We have to give Lincoln some props for that, right?
This is particularly fascinating considering how important a figure Lincoln was. Not only did he guide the North to victory during the Civil War, but he could also stand his ground in a fistfight if it came to it. What more could you ask for in a leader?
CALVIN COOLIDGE – RIDING A MECHANICAL HORSE
You don’t hear the name Calvin Coolidge everyday. While it seems the annals of history have left the former President behind, his private hobby, however, is far from it.
Once Calvin Coolidge got elected, he faced quite a predicament. Even though he absolutely loved horseback riding ever since he was a kid, his secret service insisted that frequent horseback rides constituted a grave security concern. So, obviously, he decided to have an electric horse installed inside the White House.
I mean, wasn’t this the perfect solution? He got to stay in his cozy quarters and enjoy his favorite hobby at the same time. Unfortunately, his political opponents were not convinced. Instead of praising the ingenious idea, they relentlessly mocked the poor mechanical horse for as long as it stayed in the White House. Cheap shots!
Here’s some good news though. If you’d like, you can actually see the mechanical horse with your own two eyes. It’s on display in the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to ride it. Though, if you ask nicely… who knows?
BILL CLINTON – SAXOPHONE
This is probably the most well-known presidential hobby on the list. Still, it’s definitely bringing up. Bill Clinton’s exceptional saxophone skills are always worthy of praise, chapeau!
Clinton was so open about his musical talent that he would often whip out his saxophone during balls and receptions, even during his presidency. Now, perhaps his saxophone skills weren’t as amazing as implied here, but they were still pretty good for a career politician, especially one of the caliber of the Bill Clinton. If you’re a fan of Bill like I am, listen here and judge it yourself.
BARACK OBAMA – COMICS
Barack Obama changed US politics for ever. The first black President in history, he led the US out of the second Great Depression of 2009. Away from politics, Obama often reminisced about his childhood love for comics. Though a fan of many different series, his most treasured was by far Spider-Man. I mean, who doesn’t like Spider-Man?
It is unclear whether he had the time to read any comic books during his tumultuous presidency. In either case, he still had a hobby that most of us would never associate a US president with. I wore different Batman costumes every Halloween; I’m a DC Comics fanatic, too. Maybe I should consider a career in politics? Chicago does need a good reshuffle, let’s agree on that.
PRESIDENTS ARE PEOPLE
These few examples of bizarre hobbies enjoyed by some US presidents can help us remember that presidents, powerful though they may be, are still human beings, and they enjoy human things. They have their likes and dislikes, just like we all do (that is, unless you believe in the conspiracy theory that politicians are shape-shifting reptilians).