6 Electric Fun Facts for Presidents’ Day

In honor of Presidents’ day next Monday, we’d like to share 6 fun facts in history of how our past Presidents have had interaction with electricity in the White House.


FUN FACT #1 The first president to install electric lighting at the White House was Benjamin Harrison in 1891, but he never touched the light switches himself, for fear of being electrocuted. This was a reasonable fear, given how crude household electric wiring could be at the time. It was the White House domestic staff that operated the light switches exclusively.


FUN FACT #2 During Warren G. Harding’s administration in 1922, electric vacuum cleaners were first used within the White House. Though invented in 1860, they started getting more popular in the average home in the 1920s.


FUN FACT #3 Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to ride publicly in a car – and it happened to be an electric car. He rode in a parade in 1902 through the streets of Hartford, Conn., in a Columbia Electric Victoria Phaeton with two 20-volt batteries.


FUN FACT #4 During Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, he was known for wandering the White House and turning off lights in rooms he thought were empty, sometimes to the surprise of people working in them. This earned him the nickname “Light Bulb Johnson.”


FUN FACT #5 Jimmy Carter was the first to install solar panels back in 1979. After nearly three years of fighting for clean energy, the 32 panels were installed on the roof of the White House.


FUN FACT #6 Air conditioning first came to the White House through tragedy. In an effort to cool the sick room of the wounded President James A. Garfield, U.S. Navy engineers improved an air conditioner in the summer of 1881. The electric blower forced air through a box with thin cotton screens that were kept wet with ice water. The air was pumped through a duct to Garfield’s bedroom and was able to lower the temperature to 80 degrees as well as humidity.


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