Prior to every presidential election I find myself asking a lot of deep probing questions about each candidate. What is their stance on socialized health care? Are they going to support immigration reform? And, most importantly, do they have any tattoos?
OK, when it comes down to choosing a president whether or not they have tattoos should not be one of the key factors, but it is a fun thing to wonder about. Instead of wondering who will be the first presidential candidate sporting obvious tattoos—by taking a look at the myriad of potential candidates already lined up 2016 isn’t going to be the year—we were curious if there has already been a tattooed president. Possibly there has been more than one. Since there isn’t a swimsuit competition involved in the electoral process it would be pretty easy for a president to sneak some ink right into the White House.
The ability to sneak by with some ink is also the reason that there isn’t a lot of hard evidence to show which presidents had tattoos. Honestly, how many times have you seen a president even showing his bare arms? American politicians just don’t have the swagger of Russia’s Vladimir Putin; this leaves a lot of unseen skin for potential tattoos. The following presidents have been strongly rumored to have tattoos but we don’t have any pictures or hard evidence supporting the claims. So consider this to be a list of presidents who were most likely tattooed.
If you were forced to guess only one president with a tattoo odds are that you would choose Teddy. When I think of T.R. an image of the president fighting a bear while simultaneously leading a cavalry charge pops in my head. Roosevelt was the textbook definition of a man’s man. Thus, it’s not hard to believe rumors that the 26th president sported a large tattoo of his family crest on his chest. The Roosevelt family crest is pretty awesome and would make for a great tattoo, so we are hoping that there is some truth to this rumor. There are also some rumblings that T.R.’s fifth cousin, some guy you may have heard of named Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also had the crest inked on him.
The first tattoo in the White House may have belonged to the man whose face graces the $20 bill, Andrew Jackson. Rumor has it that Old Hickory had a large tattoo of a tomahawk on his thigh. The choice of ink is quite interesting considering that Jackson served in the military in the First Seminole War and as president started the policy of removing Native Americans from eastern states and relocating them to the west. It’s not hard to believe that Jackson had a tattoo; the man could easily endure the pain considering that he lived the majority of his life with a bullet lodged in his chest.
James K. Polk
Despite considering myself an avid fan of U.S. history, pretty much everything I know about James K. Polk was taught to me via a They Might Be Giants song. It turns out he was a pretty great president. In addition to acquiring Texas, Oregon, California and other territories that allowed the United States to sprawl all the way to the Pacific Ocean, Polk may have also had some ink. Young Hickory, so named because he was seen as being quite similar to Jackson, is thought to have had a tattoo of the Chinese character for “eager.” Quite the trendsetter!
While one can argue just how close of a call this was considering he lost the election in one of the all-time largest landslides, Barry Goldwater was close to being the first undeniable tattooed president. The longtime senator from Arizona had a tattoo of four dots and a half circle on the inside of his hand. The markings were symbols of the Smoki People, an organization dedicated to preserving some of the traditions of Native American people that Goldwater belonged to.
So, even though we haven’t had a president with a killer back piece like this (as far as we know), we have (more than likely) had a few tattooed people serving as commander-in-chief. If we really want to assure that we have a tattooed president we should take Hillary and Chelsea Clinton to a tattoo parlor so they can bond with some mother/daughter ink. Don’t worry, we’ll hedge our bets by convincing Rand Paul to sit down and get a quote from Atlas Shrugged as well.