US Presidents and Their Surprising Personal Hobbies

by | Oct 30, 2023 | Quick Reads

America’s presidents: they’re just like us, with personal passions and pastimes. From woodworking to wrestling, let’s take a look at some unexpected hobbies that have captivated the leisure time of the nation’s chief executives.

George Washington – Farming

The first U.S. president was more than a military general and statesman. He was an innovative farmer, always looking for the latest agricultural techniques to implement on his Mount Vernon estate.

John Adams – Astronomy

The night skies fascinated Adams. He was known to regularly stargaze and muse about the universe and our place within it.

Thomas Jefferson – Archaeology

Beyond penning the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson had a passion for the ancient world, conducting some of the first archaeological digs in America.

James Madison – Chess

The fourth president was an avid chess player and often enjoyed marathon sessions with fellow Founding Father Thomas Jefferson.

Abraham Lincoln – Wrestling

Before he was wrestling with national issues, Lincoln was a top-notch wrestler in his younger days, known for his strength and agility.

Theodore Roosevelt – Taxidermy

TR was a man of many hobbies, including hunting, boxing, and horseback riding. But as a child, he also took up taxidermy and maintained this passion into adulthood, often preserving animals he found during his outdoor adventures.

Calvin Coolidge – Fishing

Silent Cal, as he was affectionately known, loved nothing more than to cast a line in a serene river or stream, finding solace in the gentle art of fishing.

Dwight D. Eisenhower – Painting

After World War II, Ike picked up a paintbrush and discovered a new way to relax. He created hundreds of paintings, from landscapes to portraits, during his lifetime.

Jimmy Carter – Woodworking

The 39th president is a skilled carpenter. Even after his presidency, he continued to build furniture and, famously, houses with Habitat for Humanity.

Ronald Reagan – Horseback Riding

Reagan loved the great outdoors, and nothing made him happier than saddling up and taking a ride through his California ranch.

George W. Bush – Painting

Following his presidency, Bush discovered a love for painting. From portraits of fellow world leaders to poignant images of veterans, his art has since garnered significant attention.

Barack Obama – Basketball

The 44th president frequently hit the court, playing pick-up games and even installing a basketball court at the White House.

These hobbies offer a rare glimpse into the personal lives of presidents, revealing passions and pursuits that both grounded and humanized them amidst the pressures of the nation’s highest office.

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