Presidents’ Day Names: The mighty middles–Quincy, Knox and Gamaliel
By Linda Rosenkrantz
On previous Presidents’ Days, we’ve looked at the first and last names of the Chief Executives, their wives and their children’s appellations. So what’s left?
Their middle names! And in this era of middle-name mania, we think they merit our attention.
Many of the early people in this position did not have middle names, having come to the office before the practice became so prevalent. A significant number bore their mothers’ maiden names; a few others switched the first and middle and so became know by the name listed below. One—Gerald Ford—changed his name completely.
So, if you don’t like any of the Presidents’ first or second name, here’s an alternative option.
Birchard—As if Rutherford weren’t heavy enough for future President Hayes to carry, he also inherited his mother’s maiden name, kind of an arboreal cousin of Richard. Unusual names ran in the family—his mother’s brother was Sardis.
Gamaliel—This is the G in Warren G. Harding—a Hebrew biblical name not likely to see much use in the 21st century. Harding, nicknamed Winnie by his family, was the 29th President of the United States.
Milhous—Richard Milhous Nixon was another who was given his mother’s maiden name as a middle. He and three of his brothers were named for legendary kings of England: Richard was in honor of Richard the Lionhearted.
S. S stands for nothing in the middle of President Harry Truman’s name, which seems to have been a practice in certain Scots-Irish families. His parents chose the initial S to please both the baby’s grandfathers—Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. Harry’s brother did get a middle name—Vivian.
Ulysses—He was born Hiram Ulysses Grant. The change came as a result of his being mistakenly registered at West Point as Ulysses S. Grant, which he reputedly was happy to accept as a way of ridding himself of the embarrassing initials H.U.G.
Wilson—Ronald Reagan’s middle name was not chosen in honor of the 28th President, but rather his mother, born Nelle Wilson. His father gave him his lifelong nickname “Dutch,” as in “fat little Dutchman” and referencing his son’s Dutch boy haircut.
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on February 12th, 2014 at 11:49 pm
I love presidents’ and first ladies’ names. Such hearty names!
on February 13th, 2014 at 12:09 am
I hardly see why Gamaliel is unlikely in the 21st century when we have Ezekiel, Abraham, Malachi, Emmanuel, Nathaniel, Josiah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Gabriel, and Elijah in the top 200.
Grover needs to come back. I long to meet a quirky, energetic little boy named Grover.
on February 13th, 2014 at 12:48 am
Such a great list! I love Delano, Knox, Quincy, Walker, and S, in particular!
Delano is unique, but wholesome.
Knox is full of energy and history!
Quincy is the name of my hometown. A classmate recently named her daughter Quincy!
Walker is just plain cool.
S just made me smile. What a funny tradition!
on February 13th, 2014 at 4:36 pm
Re: Gerald Ford – his case (as per Wikipedia) was not him deciding to go by a different name, but rather he was renamed informally when his mother remarried (he wasn’t formally adopted, but did make the Ford name official once he became an adult).
on February 13th, 2014 at 8:47 pm
You should have probably made the distinction between the local New England pronunciation Quinsey — voiced s — as opposed to Quincy — soft c.
I think I like Knox the best, if only because I love Knox County, Maine.
What I Learned in February – KendraNicole.net Said
on February 27th, 2014 at 9:01 am
[…] A surprisingly large number of American presidents are known by their middle names. Among them are Calvin Coolidge (born John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.) and Woodrow Wilson (whose given […]
on May 2nd, 2014 at 6:50 pm
For the trivia tridbit of Ulysses, you should tell everyone that my ancestor is Ulysses, since he is on my mom’s side.
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