11 Manliest Presidents

11 Manliest Presidents

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As we all prepare for President’s Day with sales on everything from used cars to mattresses to home appliances, let’s spend a few moments to salute the presidents who were decidedly manlier than we give them credit for. This list is NOT about the most brilliant presidents, successful presidents, or presidents who changed the nation (though … those traits did help but were not used here). This list refers to presidents who defied the odds, changed the system, had awesome pets, and were decidedly more of an action-hero than a diplomat — thus becoming as if they were a super man or a man above all men. Oh, and they just happened to run our country.

Note: Not wanting to to turn this list into political pettiness and badgering, I ignored all presidents, both living and deceased, from the past 30 years.

DEFINITION: man·ly

/ˈmanlē/

adjective

• having or denoting those good qualities traditionally associated with men, such as courage and strength.

• (of an activity) befitting a man, especially in a traditional sense.

Source: Merriam-Webster

11. Gerald Ford

Ford was an Eagle Scout, attended the University of Michigan, the star of the football team, in a fraternity, and majored in political science. As a football player, he was a center and linebacker, and helped the Wolverines to two undefeated seasons and national titles in 1932 and 1933. Mind you this was during the time where they barely wore any pads and only had a minuscule leather cap on their heads for protection.

Example of Manliness:

Ford is the only U.S. president to ever tackle a Heisman Trophy winner — granted, when he tackled the player he had yet to win the Heisman. During a 1934 game against the University of Chicago, Ford brought down halfback Jay Berwanger, who would later go on to win the first Heisman the following year.

Manliest Quote:

“I am a Ford, not a Lincoln.”

Bonus Fact(s):

Ford could have found fame in a different arena. After college, he was given offers to play for the Detroit Lions or the Green Bay Packers, but chose politics instead.

10. Ulysses S. Grant

Conventional wisdom has always categorized Grant as a great military leader, but as a horrible president. And I will agree. He graduated from West Point near the bottom of his class, and immediately went into the army where he displayed an unusual affinity for the dangerous and risky. He cut his teeth as an officer during the Mexican War, and then went on to be the only Northern general capable of matching wits with Robert E. Lee, which in-turn lead him to the White House.

Example of Manliness:

Due to the byproduct of a string of battlefield victories, he is the only US General to force the unconditional surrender of three enemy armies, something no other general officer in American history ever accomplished — not Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, or George Washington.

Manliest Quote:

“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.”

Bonus Fact(s):

Grant was a published author, a champion drinker, and a supporter of both American Indian and African American rights.

9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Distinguished, quiet, and respectable, he managed the Great Depression, went toe-to-toe against the forces of fascism in Europe, and kept stride with Winston Churchill with his classic temperament, charm, and luck — all in the confines of wheelchair.

Example of Manliness:

No president can claim as many presidential connections who, by blood or marriage, was related to 11 other former commander-in-chiefs. How’s that for a presidential bloodline?

Manliest Quote:

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Bonus Fact:

When doctors ordered FDR to gain some weight because of health issues, he did it by chugging eggnog.

8. Dwight D. Eisenhower

From 1932 until 1968, he was the only Republican to be elected president and it’s not hard to understand why — he was one of the most respected men on the planet (and being a national hero was a plus).

Example of Manliness:

Defeated Adolf Hitler.

Manliest Quote:

“Neither a wise nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.”

Bonus Fact:

He shared dual passions for golf and oil paintings.

7. John Quincy Adams

He was a diehard American who fought hard to make liberty and prosperity a reality. It all started at the young age of 8 when his father, John Adams (our second President), was busying himself with the rebel cause, thrust his son into manhood by becoming the man of the house. As if ensuring the safety and prosperity of an entire house isn’t daunting enough, Adams had to do this while witnessing the likes of the Revolutionary War.

Example of Manliness:

He kept a pet alligator in the East Wing of the White House and could write with both hands.

Manliest Quote:

“Duty is ours; results are God’s.”

Bonus Fact:

Adams maintained a strict, athletic regiment of constant exercise that included a morning swim across the Potomac — which he was said to do in less than an hour … most times while in the nude.

6. Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson was so manly that if an institution, a document, or a nation wasn’t up to his principles and standards, he simply went out and changed the system. That’s why we have The University of Virginia, the Declaration of Independence, and the United States of America.

Example of Manliness:

John F. Kennedy once held a gathering at the White House with 49 Nobel Prize in attendance. During dinner, Kennedy was quoted that this was “… probably the greatest concentration of talent and genius in this house except for perhaps those times when Thomas Jefferson ate alone.” No one laughed.

Manliest Quote:

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

Bonus Fact:

Jefferson designed his own home, which is often ranked among the top architectural wonders of America. He could also write in Greek with one hand while writing the same in Latin with the other.

5. Abraham Lincoln

He was cool, calm, and collected. Born to two uneducated farmers in a log cabin (back when log cabins weren’t exactly luxury rentals), Good Ole’ Abe pretty much taught himself everything — including how to read by getting his hands on every book he could find. He overcame every failure in his political career to become one of the most respected presidents in American history.

Example of Manliness:

When he was young, Lincoln was challenged to fistfight by the leader of a gang in his hometown. Lincoln accepted the challenge and when the guy wouldn’t fight, he knocked out the kid’s sidekick instead.

Manliest Quote:

“All I have to say is that the author is a liar and a scoundrel, and that if he will avow authorship to me, I promise to give his proboscis a good wringing.”

Bonus Fact:

Don’t let that rail-thin frame fool you, he was quite handy with an axe and a very talented wrestler.

4. John F. Kennedy

While Kennedy is mostly remember for getting assassinated or for his White House, after-hours philandering with Hollywood actresses, while admittedly manly as those may seem they barely make the top of manliest things he’s ever done. Due to the medical hardship of a bad back, Kennedy was disqualified from service in the army. Kennedy wouldn’t be deterred and had his had his dad pull a few strings so he could join the navy. Once there, instead of acting like the pretty, rich boy from Boston he actually was, he handled himself like a gravel-eating, blue collar American.

Example of Manliness:

During World War II, he commanded a patrol torpedo boat with a crew of less than 20. While on a routine patrol in the Solomon Islands, his boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer. After gathering his crew in the water, they elected not to surrender. Amazingly, Kennedy managed to swim four hours to shore while towing an injured crewman by the life jacket strap with his teeth. Yes, I said with his teeth!

Manliest Quote:

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

Bonus Fact:

Everyone knows about Marilyn Monroe. It was also believed that JFK “entertained” Audrey Hepburn, Angie Dickenson, Jayne Mansfield, Blaze Starr, and Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan.

3. Andrew Jackson

While “Old Hickory” might be one of the manliest presidents, he was also one of the worst (it’s hard to forget the Indian Removal Act). Jackson rose to national prominence for his role in the Battle of New Orleans, which would have totally won the War of 1812, had the war not already been won.

When he wasn’t busy shaping his Presidency, you could find him somewhere dueling (it was said that he participated in over one hundred duels in his lifetime). On one occasion, Jackson challenged a man named Charles Dickinson to a duel for insulting his wife. Knowing Dickinson was a faster and better shot; Jackson politely volunteered to be shot at first. Yes, you read that correctly, Jackson voluntarily took a bullet in the chest and proceeded to shake it off like it was a paper cut. Without flinching, calmly shot and killed Dickinson.

Example of Manliness:

While attending a congressional funeral, an unemployed house painter attempted to assassinate the President by pointing a pistol and firing. But the bullet did not discharge. The assassin fired a second pistol, which also misfired. Jackson raised his cane and processed to throttle the would-be assassin to within an inch of his life until his aides pulled him off.

Manliest Quote:

“One man with courage makes a majority.”

Bonus Fact:

At his funeral, his pet parrot had to be removed from the service because it was swearing too loudly.

2. George Washington

This is a no-brainer. He commanded the Continental Army and defeated the better equipped British during the American Revolution. He was always risking it all and through that ended up as the “Greatest American Ever.” There are countless stories of Washington returning from battle with bullet holes in his uniform or without his horse (because it was dead after being shot from under him). After one such battle, he wrote a letter to his brother detailing the experience by saying “I heard the bullets whistle and, believe me, there is something charming to the sound of bullets.”

Example of Manliness:

Father of America.

Manliest Quote:

“There is but a handful of the enemy, and we will have them directly.”

Bonus Fact:

He was warmly named “Caunotaucarius” by the Iroquois Indians, which translates to “Devourer of Villages.”

1. Theodore Roosevelt

This man was a beast — both literally and figuratively. Afflicted with asthma, a poor bone foundation, and poor eyesight as a child, he trained his mind and body to make up for those deficiencies. That mentality led him into a number of unlikely ventures as his life progressed. He was an explorer, a cattle rancher, a Rough Rider, a war hero, a deputy sheriff, a police commissioner, a writer, and a champion boxer. Oh yeah, he was also the 26th President of the United States, who strolled through the White House yielding a pistol at all times (though, having a black belt in jujitsu, I’m sure the pistol was merely decorative).

Example of Manliness:

While campaigning for a third term, Roosevelt was shot by an assassin. Instead of getting any medical attention, he decided to deliver the speech with the bleeding, undressed bullet hole in his chest.

Manliest Quote:

“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Bonus Fact:

He kept a lion and a bear in the White House as pets.

Image Source: FDR Library, Almanac of Theodore Roosevelt, Pixgood, Wikipedia

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