John Quincy Adams's Pet Alligator Was A Crock


My hunt for the truth behind Gatorgate.
There are three “facts” about John Quincy Adams that I see repeated on the internet more than anything else about the sixth president:
  1. While he was skinny dipping in the Potomac, female reporter Anne Royall sat on his clothes until he agreed to grant her an interview.
  2. He said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
  3. He kept a pet alligator in the White House, a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette, and he loved terrifying his guests with it.
All three, it seems, are bogus.

Valentines for Your Presidents Day - Part II


More Naughty Presidential Valentines for Your History Lover.
A while back I made some Valentines from the first three presidents. Now the next four presidents want to get in on the action and help you celebrate Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day together!

Warning: Not for children. Or mature adults.

It's Groundhog Day, James Madison


Never give an animal to James Madison.
Groundhog Day was not yet a thing in eighteenth century America, but the furry rodent itself was a source of fascination to two early presidents.

The Trials of a Scold: Book Review


The Incredible True Story of Writer Anne Royall
I first became interested in Anne Royall while researching the story about her ambushing a skinny-dipping John Quincy Adams for an interview. At first I was disappointed there was absolutely no truth to the tale (see my debunking here) but I soon found out the actual story of Royall’s life and her infamous trial for being a “common scold” far more interesting.

In a new book The Trials of a Scold: The Incredible True Story of Writer Anne Royall out this month, Jeff Biggers tells Anne Royall’s story in a compelling narrative that helps restore her place in history.
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