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Political button, Theodore RooseveltWillard and Barry are running for president in 2012. Few may recognize these names. It pays to learn the nicknames and middle names of presidential candidates because they help identify rare vintage political material that might otherwise be ignored and sold for low prices.

Willard is Mitt Romney’s first name. Barry is the nickname Barack Obama used in high school. Other presidents have had now-unfamiliar nicknames. See how well you know presidential history and trivia.

Answers are at the bottom and include the names of the presidents, the years they served and why they earned the nickname. A score of ten is almost impossible—you must be a brilliant history professor or a savvy collector. Nine to seven is excellent—you are probably over 65 years old and interested in politics. Six to four is fair—you probably don’t collect vintage campaign buttons. Modern history is okay but you don’t know much about our forefathers. Three to zero—your seventh grade history teacher left out a lot.

Here are the nicknames:

  1. Ike
  2. His Rotundity
  3. Old Hickory
  4. Dutch
  5. Old Rough and Ready
  6. Dubya
  7. TR
  8. Silent Cal
  9. Tricky Dick
  10. Jerry

The price guide at lists lots of political memorabilia. All types are collected, but items related to presidential candidates are the most popular. The campaign button pictured is from Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 third run for the presidency as a member of the Progressive, or "Bull Moose" party. It's a 7/8-inch celluloid button, and it sold for $68 at an Anderson Americana auction in Troy, Ohio. And by the way, in 1912, Woodrow Wilson won, becoming the 28th President of the United States.


  1. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961). All seven Eisenhower boys were called Ike, a shortened version of Eisenhower. President Eisenhower’s original name was David Dwight but his mother reversed it to Dwight David and then called him “Little Ike.”
  2. John Adams (1797-1801). Adams suggested George Washington should be called “His Majesty,” so others joked that John Adams was “His Rotundity.” Researchers say he was 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighed 150 pounds. Compared with later Presidents who weighed over 300 pounds, he was not very fat.
  3. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837). He was given the nickname “Old Hickory” by his soldiers who said “he was tough as old hickory (trees).”
  4. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). When Reagan’s father saw him soon after he was born, he said he looked like a “fat little Dutchman.” As a boy, the name “Dutch” remained when he got a Dutch boy style haircut.
  5. Zackary Taylor (1849-1850). Taylor was called “Old Rough and Ready” because of his appearance and his actions.
  6. George W. Bush (2001-2009). Pronounce the letter “W” with a Texas accent and you get “Dubya.” It distinguished him from his father, George H. W. Bush.
  7. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909). Roosevelt was the first president to sign papers with his initials—TR. Other presidents did the same later.
  8. Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929). Coolidge tried hard to avoid the press. Since he gave short answers to questions and talked very little when compared with other long-winded politicians, he was dubbed “Silent Cal.”
  9. Richard Nixon (1969-1974). Nixon ran against Helen Gahagan Douglas in the 1950 Senate race in California. She accused him of dirty tricks during the campaign. A Democratic ad that ran before the election said, “Look at Tricky Dick Nixon’s Republican record.” The name “Tricky Dick” stuck for the rest of his career, reappearing when he had legal problems.
  10. This is an easy one. Gerald Ford (1974-1977) was called Jerry from the time he was 12. It is a common nickname for Gerald. But he was born, Leslie Lynch King, Jr. When his mother remarried and he was adopted, he was renamed Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr.



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