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Our Tallest and Shortest Presidents

I just finished reading Geoffrey Perret’s book “Lincoln’s War: The Untold Story of America’s Greatest President as Commander in Chief”. It’s a great read, especially for someone like me who was never very interested in anything to do with the Civil War. In it Abraham Lincoln becomes less mythic, as he has become today, and more human, bothered by the struggles with life, the Confederacy and Congress that he must deal with on a 24 hour basis.

But on the lighter side of having the possibility of the Union torn asunder forever, he was the tallest president we’ve had – 6 ft 4 in. [1. He narrowly beats out Lyndon B. Johnson who comes in just under Lincoln at 6 ft 3½ in. Johnson was also known for using the toilet in front of underlings he wanted to intimidate.] He often would talk about how he never had to look up to anybody since he was always the tallest man in the room. On meeting a wounded Union soldier that was taller than him, he remarked, “Hello, comrade. Do you know when your feet get cold?”

James Madison, the president that got us into probably our most pointless war [2. The War of 1812. You remember it – Washington D.C. got burned by the British?] was our shortest president, coming in at just 5 ft 4 in.

And our tallest first lady? Eleanor Roosevelt. She was 6 ft tall. While Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, was probably our shortest first lady, measuring in at 5 ft 2 in. [3. The info for this piece came from WIkipedia and also from “Lincoln’s War: The Untold Story of America’s Greatest President as Commander in Chief” by Geoffrey Perret.]

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