Sunday, August 21, 2011

John Quincy Adams: Skinny Dipping & Other Firsts

John Quincy Adams was a skinny dipper. Before pools and jacuzzis, having a river in your backyard was as good as it got. The sixth President of the United States took full advantage of the White House's proximity to the Potomac River by wading through the river nude almost daily at 5:00 a.m.

In addition to being the first President known to skinny dip in the Potomac, Adams was also the first president to be photographed; luckily not nude (see picture below).

John Quincy Adams was the first President to be photographed. 
Perhaps he is daydreaming about his morning dip.

One morning while skinny dipping, Adams was coerced into becoming the first President to grant an interview to a female reporter. Having been refused an interview in the past, a certain Ann Royall took matters into her own hands by acting on knowledge of the President's morning routine. One morning when Adams was skinny dipping, Royall sat on his clothes and refused to leave until granted an interview. History tells us that the President valued his physical decency above his scorn for Ms. Royall, as she became the first female reporter to interview a President of the United States (naked or otherwise).

Skinny dipping in the Potomac seemingly fell out of favor among Adams' successors until Theodore Roosevelt took office some 75 years later. The president known for serving in 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry and later for his doctrine of "Speak softly and carry a big stick" also enjoyed nude baths in the White House backyard. In the current age of the White House Press Secretary and Secret Service, who is to say that presidents since Roosevelt have not continued the tradition? Let us only hope that they have learned from Adams' failure to follow the golden rule of skinny dipping: keep an eye on your clothes.

Additional Resources

John Quincy Adams (Harlow Giles Unger)


  1. ha ha very funny talk about a presdent bhind their backs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. he looks pretty intense

  3. This story, while pervasive, is actually apocryphal.