Multilingual presidents

It turns out that Jeb Bush's Spanish is excellent. If he becomes president, he will join a long list of multilingual predecessors. Some curiosities from the list:

Martin Van Buren's native language was Dutch.

Herbert Hoover was fluent in Mandarin, and he and his wife would converse in it when they wanted to speak privately in company. He and his wife also spent five years translating a Latin mining text! (Why?)

John Quincy Adams translated a page a day of Dutch and Latin, and spoke German and French as well.

The multilingual champ seems to be Thomas Jefferson, who knew Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, and French.


  1. All were fluent in double-talk.
    As for Hoover, he was one of the greatest mining engineers of his day, and the book he translated was the first really important book in that field. So he did it for fun. (I have read about half of it.)

  2. I don't know where to drop this, your favorite theologian for president!