Determining which presidents were left handed is a difficult task because during the 18th and 19th century, left handedness was considered a disability. Parents and teachers fought to eradicate any signs of left handedness in their children and students, and the "condition" rarely lasted beyond childhood.
Therefore, if any presidents were left handed before the 20th century, we may never know because they may have been forced to give up their natural instincts at a young age. Examining the presidents that were left handed reveals interesting connections between being a leftie and becoming president.
Although determining which presidents were left handed before the 20th century is a difficult, if not impossible, task.
There are reasons to suggest that James Garfield was lefthanded. Popular stories have it that he was able to write Latin with his right hand and Greek with his left hand at the same time.
Therefore, as far as records are able to tell, James Garfield was the first left handed president of the United States. Unfortunately, in addition to being one of the minority of left handed presidents, Garfield was also one of the four presidents who was assassinated.
The next proof that we have of a left handed president was Herbert Hoover, who served from 1929-1933. Most known for his efforts to relieve the country of the problems of the Great Depression, Hoover, in fact, failed in attempts to aid the United States and wound up losing the 1932 election as a result.
Serving from 1974 to 1977, Ford was the first person to serve as both vice president and president, but to not be elected into either of those positions. He became vice president under the terms of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution and then become president when Richard Nixon resigned.
The elder Bush is perhaps best remembered for his foreign policy during his time in office. He oversaw military activity in both Panama and the Persian Gulf, and he saw both the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall. Bush is also the last president to have been a veteran of World War II.
Defeating Bush in the 1992 election, some may think that Clinton will only be thought of for the infamous sex scandal or his impeachment that was eventually acquitted. However, when Clinton left office in 2001, he received an approval rating of 66%, which was the highest rating of any president since World War II.
Currently serving the United States is yet another leftie, Barack Obama. During his time as president, he has signed both the American Recovery and Reinstatement Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate on October 8, 2009.
At least three presidents have been given the title of "ambidextrous," meaning they can use both hands to write. Therefore, James Garfield is one of them. The other two are Harry S. Truman and Ronald Reagan. Reagan, in fact, was reported to be totally left handed; however, he was forced at an early age to switch, quite possibly because of the old beliefs that left handedness was a disability.
Notice anything unusual about the above list? While tracing the left handedness of presidents past the 20th century is rather difficult, in the recent years an overwhelming number of the country's leaders have been lefties.
Of the country's last 14 presidents, seven have been either left handed or ambidextrous, making for 50%. Estimates for the number of right handed people in the world range from 75% to 90%. In either case, the number of presidents who were lefties does not match those statistics.
According to geneticist Amar Klar, Ph.D., at the National Cancer Institute who studied the issue, many Nobel Prize winners, artists, and writers are left handed, thereby indicating that lefties may indeed have a broader ability of thought. He also states that people who are either ambidextrous or left-handed are generally able to engage in more intense and complicated thought.
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