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FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America: Ask-A-Desi

This section will attempt to address some of the Frequently Asked Questions on Life in the US, Canada and North America that immigrants, visitors and others from different cultures attempt to address. If you have any additional inputs or wish  to see more topics addressed, mail us at is the official web site for the White House and President of the United States.

Visiting the White House: The White House is open for tours in the morning, Tuesday through Saturday, and is closed every Sunday and Monday. All White House tours are free.

Presidents Of US, White House - Facts and Trivia on the President of America

White House: Why that Name? 

White House - The most popular 'seat of power' in the World. After the formation of "United States of America" as one nation in 1788, one of the first orders of business was to choose a location for the new nation's capital. First, New York City was designated as the temporary capital of the USA for 16 months beginning in 1789 (in time for the inauguration of the first president, George Washington); the American seat of government was then moved to Philadelphia until 1800, and finally it was relocated to its permanent home in the newly created District of Columbia.

The new capital needed to include a residence for the chief executive, of course, and so the cornerstone for the "President's House," designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban, was laid in October of 1792. Although George Washington oversaw the building's construction, he retired before its completion, and thus the 2nd president John Adams and his wife Abigail became the first occupants of the residence in 1800.

The White House

The "President's House" had no official designation, and that is what it was called until the term "Executive Mansion" replaced "President's House" around 1850. After war broke out between the United States and Great Britain in 1812, President James Madison and his wife were forced to flee the residence when a British expedition won an easy victory and took Washington in August 1814, setting fire to several public buildings including the Capitol and the President's House. This historical event has since been used in a legend which proclaims that the White House obtained its name after its torching by the British, when portions of the residence were rebuilt and the exterior was painted white (over the original gray) to cover the obvious burn marks.

Not so. The President's House had been given a coat of whitewash as early as 1798 in order to protect its locally quarried sandstone against the deterioration caused by winter freezes, and from then on white paint was used for the exterior. People started calling it the White House. President Theodore Roosevelt in 1901 made the popular name official when he had "Theodore Roosevelt, The White House" printed on his presidential stationery.

There are 132 rooms in the White House. 32 of them are bathrooms!

Different presidents had different pets in White house. But the most unusual pet was an alligator that John Quincy Adams kept because, he said, he enjoyed the spectacle of guests fleeing from the room in terror!

A few facts on American Presidents:

1. July 4 (America's Independence Day and Birth/Deaths of Ex-Presidents)

Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826. James Monroe died on July 4, 1831

2. Left-and-Right handed President

James Garfield had extraordinary ability to write in Greek with one hand and Latin with the other simultaneously. He was also proficient in German.

3. Hefty President who was stuck in the White House bathtub

William Howard Taft was the nation's most corpulent chief executive, his weight fluctuating between 300 and 350 pounds during his term in office (1909-1913). Once, after getting immovably lodged in the White House bathtub, he ordered a new one installed, large enough for four men.

4. The only President who never married

James Buchanan was unmarried (= single = bachelor = did not marry!)

5. The only president to take the oath of office on an airplane

It all happened so fast: Barely two hours after the assassination of President John F Kennedy in Dallas on Nov 22, 1963, Vice-President Lyndon B Johnson succeeded him. Normally the chief justice of the Supreme Court administers the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol. But under the extraordinary circumstances, the new President was sworn in by a Federal judge aboard the presidential jet Air Force One.

6. Who was the only man physically present at the assassination of three U.S. presidents ... Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley?

That was Robert Todd Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln's son). He was not present at Ford's Theater, but was at his father's bedside later. He was secretary of war under Garfield and went to the train station to speak to the president. He actually arrived moments after Garfield was shot. He also arrived at the exhibition at which McKinley was shot shortly before the assassination. And if you want more, Robert Todd Lincoln also has a connection to John F Kennedy, the other assassinated president: They are both buried in Arlington National Cemetery!!

7. First and only President to get a speeding ticket by “Mama” that too during his Presidency and not just when he was a common man!

Ulysses S Grant ( But that ticket was not for his speed driving a motor car; He rode his horse too fast and got a ‘speeding ticket’! ). By the way, Ulysses and then later, Richard M Nixon (the ONLY to resign), were two least popular presidents of all.

8. Father-Son Presidents

The present President George W Bush and his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, are the second father and son both to serve as president, after John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

  Presidents of US

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Trivia and Questions for Indians and Immigrants in America

General Trivia : Introduction //Dollars and Cents // Social Security Number // About Mail and USPS // Story of The Old Glory // Green Card– Why Not Green? // Telephone Area Codes // Convex Mirrors and Caution // Bankruptcy and Chapter 11 // Radio and TV Broadcasting // Consumerism: Trivia on Wal-Mart. // Retail Trivia // Gas Prices– What's 0.9 Cent? // Roads and Interstate Highways // Road Driving Trivia // Finance 101 // Daylight Saving Time // Trivia on Etiquette

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