It’s almost scary how many presidents were born in October, but don’t be afraid! They hardly ever come back to life… Holding the record for this month’s oldest president (and all the associated privileges) is John Adams, born October 30, 1735. The first Vice President of the USA, he is sometimes overlooked because his presidency was sandwiched between George Washington’s and Thomas Jefferson’s. However, it was he who defused the Quasi War between France and America. You never heard of it? Maybe you should thank John Adams! He was so American that he died on a 4th of July.
Seventeen presidents later, along came Rutherford B Hayes, born October 4, 1822 in Delaware, Ohio. As a criminal defense lawyer, he regularly defended fugitive slaves from Kentucky. When the Civil War came, Hayes fought bravely in the valley campaigns and was wounded five times. His disputed election allegedly turned into “Let’s Make a Deal,” ending in the Compromise of 1877 (AKA the Corrupt Bargain) that ended the post-war military occupation of the South.
October 5, 1829 was the birthday of Chester Arthur, a president who famously turned his image around while in office. Having begun his foray into politics as part of a New York anti-reform political machine, he was ousted by none other than Rutherford Hayes. In spite of that, he was elected Vice President to James Garfield. When Garfield was assassinated, the killer claimed “Arthur will be president!” which led to further distrust of the new president. Arthur redeemed himself and earned the respect of the American people by championing civil reform and opposing corruption.
Next up is a legend, a man whose exploits could fill a bookshelf: the one and only Teddy Roosevelt, born October 27, 1858. Like Arthur, he attained the presidency due to an assassination, that of William McKinley. He was a Rough Ridin’, trust bustin’, Bull Moosin’, Square Dealin’ cowboy kind of a president, and that’s just for starters. He learned taxidermy before he was even 9 years old! Once, while campaigning, he was shot in the chest, but insisted on giving his 90-minute speech as planned before seeking medical attention. “It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”
Our timeline continues with “I like Ike” himself, Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose birthday was October 14, 1890. He was an athlete who played baseball and football, golfed, boxed, fenced, did gymnastics and rode horseback. Eisenhower was the president credited with beginning NASA and ending the Korean War. Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the United States during his presidency, giving us our even 50. And, of course, he holds a special place in our hearts for retiring in Gettysburg. Learn more about him at the Eisenhower National Historic Site.
October 1, 1924 saw the birth of Jimmy Carter, the only still-living president in this list. “Energy” is the key word when discussing his accomplishments. He founded the Department of Energy, set a national energy policy in place, installed solar panels in the White House, and was in office for the Energy Crisis of 1979. What you don’t know: he speed-reads and collects bottles and arrowheads, so if you have any spares…
That wraps up October’s birthdays! Remember: the more you know, the more equipped you’ll be in case they do decide to haunt you this Halloween season!