When we think of U.S. Presidents, we often think of them as leaders and diplomats. What we don’t often see are the talents they possess beyond the requirements of commander in chief. There are exceptions, of course, especially in recent decades, what with the proliferation of cameras and social media. We’ve seen, for example, Bill Clinton playing saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show; we’ve witnessed George W. Bush’s well-publicized foray into oil painting; and we’ve gotten glimpses of Barack Obama’s fondness for crooning. But, through much of history, the American public has been largely unaware of the non-job-related abilities of its Presidents. Here are some of the surprising hidden talents U.S. Presidents have quietly possessed, from ballroom dancing to swimming.
The first President of the United States was, by all accounts, a fantastic dancer. He became an accomplished ballroom dancer in his teens, and honed his skills as a young officer. Eight years after George Washington’s death, John Adams noted in a letter how the former President possessed an “elegant Form” and “graceful Attitudes and Movement.”