Determining exactly which presidents were left handed is a difficult task because during the 18th and 19th century (and even early 20th 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 task, there are at least six presidents that we know of that were left-handed.
There are reasons to believe that James Garfield was left-handed. Popular stories have it that he could 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. He served just four months in 1881 before he was shot, and died two months later from his wounds.
The next president that was thought to be left-handed 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 his 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. Although considered a leftie, Ford did say, "For as long as I can remember, I have been left-handed when I've been sitting down and right-handed standing up."
The elder Bush is perhaps best remembered for his foreign policy during his time in office from 1989-1993. 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 Senior 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 remembered 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.
Barack Obama is a proud leftie. Signing the inaugural documents on January 20 2009, he joked, “That's right, I'm a lefty, get used to it!” During his time as president, he 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 "ambidextrous," meaning they can use both hands to write. Although often claimed as left-handed, technically James Garfield is one of them. The other two are Harry S. Truman and Ronald Reagan. Truman and Reagan were reported to be totally left handed, but were forced at an early age to switch, quite possibly because of the old-fashioned beliefs that left-handedness was a disability.
Notice anything interesting about the above list? While tracing the left-handedness of presidents before the 20th century is rather difficult, in 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. Estimates for the number of left-handed people in the world range from 10-12%. Therefore the number of presidents who were lefties is well above the norm.
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 have a broader ability of creative thought. Klar 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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