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—GeraldFord—changed his name completely.
So, if you don’t like any of the Presidents’ first or second name, here’s an alternative option.
Abram—James A. Garfield was the 20th president. Abram was the name of his father, a wrestler who died when he was an infant.
Alan—Chester A. Arthur followed Garfield as the 21st president. He was born in 1829, a year when the name Alan was not very well used. though it dates back to the time of Robin Hood.
Baines—36th President LyndonJohnson was the son of Rebekah Baines Johnson, who descended from a distinguished family of Baineses. Baines is a Scotttish surname related to bones.
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.
Calvin—30th President JohnCalvinCoolidge, Jr. clearly considered his middle name more distinctive than the first name he shared with his father.
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 HarryTruman’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 SolomonYoung. Harry’s brother did get a middle name—Vivian.
Ulysses—He was born HiramUlyssesGrant. 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.
Walker—Walker served as the familial middle name of both Bush presidents, and was the source of the younger George’s nickname “W.”
Wilson—RonaldReagan’s middle name was not chosen in honor of the 28th President, but rather his mother, born NelleWilson. His father gave him his lifelong nickname “Dutch,” as in “fat little Dutchman” and referencing his son’s Dutch boy haircut.
Woodrow—ThomasWoodrowWilson, the 28th President, grew up being called Tommy. He began going by his middle name around the time he started his teaching career at Bryn Mawr College.