Joe Biden is commonly regarded as the 46th President of the United. Surprisingly, only 44 men have held the coveted position. Where did this miscount come from?
Spoiler Alert: It is Grover Cleveland’s fault
Holding the distinct honor of being the only White House tenant to serve two non-consecutive terms, occupying the job from 1885 to 1889 before winning once again in 1893.
Interestingly, Frances Cleveland, Grover’s wife, had anticipated the return to White House prominence. Upon leaving the White House, she allegedly had foreshadowing parting words:
“Now, Jerry, I want you to take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house, for I want to find everything just as it is now, when we come back again… four years from today.”
Justifiers will tell you the following: Because of the four-year-gap, first and second Cleveland are not the same President – despite being the same person.
Harry S. Truman wasn’t buying it. “If you count the administrations of Grover Cleveland twice,” he said, “because another President held office between his first and second term, you might try to justify the designation of me as thirty-third president. But then why don’t you number all the second terms of other Presidents and the third and fourth terms of President Roosevelt, and where will I be? I am the thirty-second President,” said the 30 somethingth President.
Barack Obama famously gaffed in his inauguration speech, claiming that “Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.” History nerds everywhere collectively rolled their eyes.