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post #332
bio: jen
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9/26/2008
15:35

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Presidential Name Game


I recently realized that of the four presidential and vice presidential candidates for a major political party (in alphabetical order---Biden, McCain, Obama, and Palin), three of them have two-syllable names which end with the letter, N.

Sure, there are a lot of ways to end a name, but I find it interesting that in such a diverse country where you can end your last name with any letter of the alphabet, three of the four major party candidates have names that end in N. Now, I’m not knocking names that end with N. I have many friends whose names end in N. My mother’s maiden name ends with N. Still, could it be a conspiracy?

Naturally, I did what anyone who had a trivial thought would do, I went online. Reviewing the list of 43 US Presidents, I discovered that 16 of them had names that ended in N---Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Harrison, Wilson, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton. Okay, so a name ending in N is very presidential. You might get a big memorial---or at least a presidential library.

As for the two-syllable thing, 23 presidents (more than half) have had two-syllable names. They are Adams, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Tyler, Taylor, Fillmore, Lincoln, Johnson, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, Cleveland, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton. I have to count Cleveland twice because he was the 22nd and 24th president.

So the number of previous presidents with two-syllable names ending in N is nine---Jackson, Lincoln, Johnson, Wilson, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton.

Moving over to the lone three-syllable candidate in the group, there have been eleven presidents with three-syllable names---Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Van Buren, Harrison, Buchanan, Harrison, McKinley, Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Kennedy.

But how many presidents had names that ended in a vowel (A, E, I, O, U, sometimes Y)? Even throwing in the Y, the number of presidents is only six---Monroe, Fillmore, Pierce, McKinley, Coolidge, and Kennedy.

No president has ever had a name which ended with an A. Full disclosure: my last name also ends with an A.

The current president has a one-syllable name. He is the eighth president to have a one syllable name---the others were Polk, Pierce, Grant, Hayes, Taft, Ford, and Bush. The current president’s name also ends with an H, and only one other president had a name which ended with an H.

So what does this all mean? Are there certain expectations for a presidential name? Can someone with a name that a sixth grader can’t easily spell be president? There has never been a president with a Z in his last name.


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