Posted By P & L Blog

Many Americans know that Thomas Jefferson spoke five languages and could write in several more, but did you know that:

- James Garfield, the 20th president, was not only multilingual, he was also ambidextrous.  He could write in Greek with one hand while writing in Latin with the other.

 - Dutch-speaker Martin Van Buren was the first president who was born a U.S. citizen (his predecessors had been born British citizens). He is the only president who spoke English as a second language and he spoke Dutch at home with his wife.

- First Lady Elizabeth Monroe spoke only French at home.

- Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou, collaborated on the first English translation of a 16th century work on mining and used both the old Latin and German translated versions as sources.  The multilingual Hoovers were said to speak Mandarin in the White House when they didn’t want to be overheard. 

When Jackie Kennedy campaigned for her husband’s re-election to the Senate in 1958, she gave speeches in Italian, French, and Spanish to.  For JFK’s presidential run in 1960, she recorded a campaign spot for her husband in Spanish.  You can see the campaign spot here: 

How do you think she did?

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