The Only U.S. President That Spoke Mandarin Chinese

The Only U.S. President That Spoke Mandarin Chinese

Here's something you probably didn't know about our 31st President of the United States.
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Being bilingual nowadays always seem like a huge surprise. English has become such a common language in America that it has become unnecessary to know any other language. But I am not saying a person shouldn't learn a second or third language. Being able to communicate to others without having the language barrier is undoubtedly a useful skill.

So my mind started wondering earlier today -- has there ever been a bilingual president?

Obviously after 43 presidents, there's bound to be one that spoke another language other than English. And of course I had to search it up, which I did, and found out there were plenty of presidents in the beginning that spoke another language like Latin or Greek.

That wasn't surprising at all. It continued to not be a shocker when I read there were other presidents that spoke French, Dutch, German, Spanish, and Italian. Basically all these past presidents knew European languages. What was surprising to learn was that there was one president that knew Mandarin.

Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, lived in Tianjin, China for two years with his wife, Lou Hoover after graduating Stanford with a degree in Geology. He worked as a mining engineering and executive during those years. According to the Hoover Association, the two adapted to the language there and would sometimes speak in Mandarin when they didn't want people to know what they were talking about.

The Hoovers even caught themselves in the middle of the Boxer Rebellion during their time in China in 1900. The couple was sent to a walled compound for protection from those who were rebelling against Western influence in China and persecuting Chinese Christians. The Boxer Rebellion finally came to an end a year later in September of 1901.

There are a lot of things that come to mind when I think of President Hoover, like Hooverville and the Great Depression, but after learning he was one of the few U.S. Presidents that knew a non-European language and the only President that knew Mandarin, there's something else to remember him by.

And if you're wondering whether or not our current U.S. President knows any other language, the short answer is yes. Yes, he does. He speaks Bahasa Indonesian from when he attended school in Indonesia as a child.

Cover Image Credit: History Channel

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