James Abram Garfield: First to Use and Be Failed By the Metal Detector
James Garfield was the workingman’s president. His father died when he was only two, leaving him and his family in poverty. He earned his keep as a carpenter, teacher and canal boatman before he found inspiration in politics. He was also one of four presidents assassinated in office, and suffered for weeks before complications from the bullet took his life.
It was under these dire circumstances that none other than Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, was called in to help. Bell came equipped with an experimental metal detector invented just months before and intended to use it to locate and remove the bullet where others had failed. Unfortunately for Garfield, the ramshackle device failed to locate the bullet because the bed’s metal coil mattress jumbled the signal.
Bonus: Garfield was the U.S.'s last president born in a log
William Henry Harrison: A Fool in Love
Although not a true Ohio native, Harrison spent much of his life gallivanting in what would become the Buckeye State as governor of the Indiana Territory.
While governing the territories, Harrison became interested in a young Anna Symmes, Judge John Cleves Symmes’ daughter (you may know him from the Symmes Purchase and, consequently, his thousand namesakes around town).
Harrison was only in his early twenties and not exactly a distinguished figure yet, so Judge Symmes was unimpressed, surmising his daughter could make a more prosperous match elsewhere.
Undeterred, Harrison asked the Judge for his daughter’s hand, and was flatly denied. So what’s a young president to do? Why, wait until her father leaves on business and elope of course!
When Judge Symmes learned of the nuptials, he berated Harrison, asking, "How, sir, do you intend to support my daughter?" Harrison smoothly replied, "Sir, my sword is my means of support." Now that’s president material.
William Howard Taft: A Reluctant Champion
Who’s the Cincy judge,
That turned trusts into mud?
Can you dig it?
Sorry for the Shaft intro, but we Cincinnatians
certainly can dig it when we’re talking ‘bout the 27th President. During his one term as president
Taft reinforced Roosevelt’s anti-trust policies and created the U.S.
Before elected, Taft told supporters: “Don’t sit up nights thinking about making me President for that will never come and I have no ambition in that direction. Any party which would nominate me would make a great mistake.”
Taft was eventually convinced otherwise, but during his inauguration on a particularly chilly day he told Roosevelt, “I always said it would be a cold day when I got to be president of the United States.”
After office, Taft was eventually named chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from none other than Warren G. Harding, another Ohioan. Taft then became the only man in history to occupy both the presidency and the chief justiceship.
Ulysses S. Grant: A Match Made in Heaven
Born in 1822, Grant grew up the son of an Ohio tanner, later becoming one of the most decisive military leaders in United States history.
But in the twilight of his years, Grant plunged into debt after his financial firm went bankrupt. As a means for settling his accounts, he began writing his own memoirs with the hope of finding a publisher. And he found his salvation in one of the most prolific writers in U.S. history: Mark Twain.
Samuel Clemens (Twain) heard Grant was looking for a publisher and offered to publish the book with Grant receiving 75 percent of the profits. They agreed and the former general finished his notes days before dying from throat cancer.
The resulting publication, Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, became one of the most successful books of the 19th century, earning Grant's family more than $400,000 in royalties. Quite a happy ending.