The job of the president is one of the most stressful in the world and the constant pressure can considerable accelerate the aging process, so it should come as no surprise that some of these extraordinary men resorted to drinking and even recreational drug use to cope. Although the topic of past presidents' indulgence in the excess is mostly shrouded in a veil of secrecy, some facts have been unearthed. From Washington's cultivation of hemp to Obama's early experimentation with cocaine, the following is a comprehensice compilation of all the dirt that we have on the presidents.
Washington, an avid drinker, was once said to have handed out roughly 150 gallons of alcohol during a campaign for the Virginia House of Burgesses. Along with that, in 1798 Washington began operating a distillery on his Virginian estate Mount Vernon. By the next year it had already become one of the countries largest distilleries in the country. The distillery produced whiskey among other alcoholic drinks, which Washington sold and often served to guests during parties. Finally, Washington did dabble in what was then glorified medicine. It is known that he cultivated hemp on Mount Vernon and sources claim he used laudanum to combat his poor dental hygeine. Laudanum was an opiate medication that also included small doses of both morphine and codeine.
The second president of the US was a very heavy drinker. He reportedly started every day by drinking a draft of hard cider before breakfast, and finished the day by drinking Mareida every night before bed. Though his drinking habits may seem excessive by today's standards it is interesting to note that in the decades immediately following the American Revolution, Americans drank more alcohol per capita than any other era before or after. In fact, in 1790, Americans drank an average of thirty-four gallons of beer and cider, five gallons of distilled spirits, and one gallon of wine, compared to Americans drinking only 2.3 gallons of alcohol per capita today.
The third president was a French wine connoisseur, apparently drinking three glasses a day separate from his meals, instead pairing them with hard cider. It was revealed that during his presidency, Jefferson bought $42,000 worth of Madeira, incurring a sizeable debt along the way. If that was not enough, Jefferson also alledgedly grew poppy on his Monticello estate in Virginia which can be used to derive opium, which he could have used to combat personal ailments.
Martin Van Buren
The eighth president of the US drank so heavily that he gained the nickname "Blue Whiskey Van." Van Buren's unbeatable tolerance apparently allowed him to drink for days on end without becoming intoxicated.
Although the 14th president of the US limited his drinking while in office, after he lost reelection in 1856 to James Buchanan, he was quoted as saying the following:
Commonly considered a drunk, Lincoln's successor
Harry S. Truman
Truman, for his part, was said to be a fan of that all-American spirit, bourbon. Rumor has it that when vacationing in Key West, he would wake up with a shot of Wild Turkey each day.
Presidents and Teetotalism
- Teetotaler: A person who never drinks alcoholic beverages.
Conversely, while some presidents may have enjoyed their clandestine substances, many also practiced temperance, the most zealous of which are discussed below.