Born 1946 (70 years old)
Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American businessman, television personality, politician, and the 45th President of the United States. Born and raised in Queens, New York City, Trump received an economics degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. In 1971, he took charge of his family's real estate and construction firm, Elizabeth Trump & Son, which was later renamed The Trump Organization. During his business career, Trump has built, renovated, and managed numerous office towers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses; six of his hotels and casinos were subsequently declared bankrupt. He owned the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants from 1996 to 2015, and has lent the use of his name in the branding of various products. From 2004 to 2015, he hosted The Apprentice, a reality television series on NBC. As of 2016, Forbes listed him as the 324th wealthiest person in the world and 113th richest in the United States, with a net worth of $4.5 billion.
|Official portrait of President Donald Trump. Credit: wikipedia|
Trump sought the Reform Party's presidential nomination in 2000, but withdrew before voting began. He considered running as a Republican for the 2012 election, but ultimately decided against it. In June 2015, he announced his candidacy for the 2016 election, and quickly emerged as the front-runner among 17 contenders in the Republican primaries. His final opponents suspended their campaigns in May 2016, and in July he was formally nominated at the Republican Convention along with Mike Pence as his running mate. His campaign received unprecedented media coverage and international attention.
|With President Ronald Reagan at White House reception in 1987 Credit: wikipedia|
Trump won the presidential election on November 8, 2016, against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and assumed office on January 20, 2017. Elected at age 70, he is the oldest and wealthiest person to assume the presidency, the first without prior military or governmental service, and the fifth elected with less than a plurality of the national popular vote.
44th President of the United States January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017
Born 1961 (55 years old)
Barack Hussein Obama II ( born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He was the first African American to serve as president, as well as the first born outside the contiguous United States. He previously served in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois from 2005 to 2008, and in the Illinois State Senate from 1997 to 2004.
|44th President of the United States Barack Obama's official photograph in the Oval Office on 6 December 2012. Credit: wikipedia|
Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, two years after the territory was admitted to the Union as the 50th state. He grew up mostly in Hawaii, but also spent one year of his childhood in Washington State and four years in Indonesia. After graduating from Columbia University in 1983, he worked as a community organizer in Chicago. In 1988 Obama enrolled in Harvard Law School, where he was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduation he became a civil rights attorney and professor, teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.
|President George W. Bush meets with President-elect Obama in the Oval Office on November 10, 2008 Credit: wikipedia|
Obama represented the 13th District for three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, when he ran for the U.S. Senate. Obama received national attention in 2004, with his unexpected March primary win, his well-received July Democratic National Convention keynote address, and his landslide November election to the Senate. In 2008, Obama was nominated for president, a year after his campaign began, and after a close primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. He became president-elect after defeating Republican nominee John McCain in the general election, and was inaugurated on January 20. Nine months later, Obama was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
43th President of the United States January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
George W. Bush
Born 1946 (70 years old)
George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 and 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000. He is the eldest son of Barbara and George H. W. Bush. After graduating from Yale University in 1968 and Harvard Business School in 1975, he worked in oil businesses.
|Official photograph portrait of former U.S. President George W. Bush. Credit: wikipedia|
|George W. Bush with his father outside the White House, April 29, 1992 Credit: wikipedia|
|President Bush with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, July 25, 2006 Credit: wikipedia|
Bush successfully ran for re-election against Democratic Senator John Kerry in 2004, in another relatively close election. After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism from across the political spectrum for his handling of the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and other challenges. Amid this criticism, the Democratic Party regained control of Congress in the 2006 elections. In December 2007, the United States entered its longest post-World War II recession, often referred to as the "Great Recession", prompting the Bush administration to obtain congressional passage of multiple economic programs intended to preserve the country's financial system.
|President Bush at the celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of victory in World War II, Red Square, Moscow Credit: wikipedia|
Nationally, Bush was both one of the most popular and unpopular presidents in history, having received the highest recorded presidential approval ratings in the wake of the September 11 attacks, as well as one of the lowest approval ratings during the 2008 financial crisis.
42th President of the United States January 20, 1993 –January 20, 2001
Born 1946 (70 years old)
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III; August 19, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Clinton was the 40th Governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and 42nd Governor from 1983 to 1992, and Arkansas Attorney General from 1977 to 1979. A member of the Democratic Party, ideologically Clinton was a New Democrat, and many of his policies reflected a centrist "Third Way" political philosophy.
|Official White House photo of President Bill Clinton, President of the United States Credit: wikipedia|
|Clinton, as the newly elected Governor of Arkansas, meeting with President Jimmy Carter in 1978 Credit: wikipedia|
Clinton was elected President in 1992, defeating incumbent George H. W. Bush. At age 46, Clinton was the third-youngest president, and the first from the Baby Boomer generation. Clinton presided over the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history, and signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement. After failing to pass national health care reform, the Democratic House was ousted when the Republican Party won control of the Congress in 1994, for the first time in 40 years. Two years later, in 1996, Clinton became the first Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to be elected to a second term. Clinton passed welfare reform and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, providing health coverage for millions of children.
|Clinton family in the White House Credit: wikipedia|
|Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat during the Oslo Accords on September 13, 1993 Credit: wikipedia|
Clinton left office with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any U.S. President since World War II. Since then, Clinton has been involved in public speaking and humanitarian work. Clinton created the William J. Clinton Foundation to address international causes, such as the prevention of AIDS and global warming. In 2004, Clinton published his autobiography My Life. Clinton has remained active in politics by campaigning for Democratic candidates, including his wife's campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and 2016, and Barack Obama's presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
In 2009, Clinton was named the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti, and after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Clinton teamed with George W. Bush to form the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Since leaving office, Clinton has been rated highly in public opinion polls of U.S. Presidents.
41th President of the United States January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
Born 1924 (92 years old)
George Herbert Walker Bush (born June 12, 1924) is an American politician who was the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and the 43rd Vice President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. A member of the U.S. Republican Party, he was previously a congressman, ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence. He is the oldest living former President and Vice President. Since 2000, Bush has often been referred to as "George H. W. Bush", "Bush 41", "Bush the Elder", or "George Bush Senior" to distinguish him from his eldest son, George W. Bush, who became the 43rd President of the United States. Prior to his son's presidency, he was simply referred to as George Bush or President Bush.
|Official portrait of George H. W. Bush, former President of the United States of America. Credit: wikipedia|
Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Bush postponed college, enlisted in the U.S. Navy on his 18th birthday, and became the youngest aviator in the U.S. Navy at the time. He served until the end of the war, then attended Yale University. Graduating in 1948, he moved his family to West Texas and entered the oil business, becoming a millionaire by the age of 40.
Bush became involved in politics soon after founding his own oil company, serving as a member of the House of Representatives and Director of Central Intelligence, among other positions. He failed to win the Republican nomination for President in 1980, but was chosen as a running mate by party nominee Ronald Reagan, and the two were elected. During his tenure, Bush headed administration task forces on deregulation and fighting the "War on Drugs".
|Bush, as CIA Director, listens at a meeting following the assassinations in Beirut of Francis E. Meloy, Jr. and Robert O. Waring, 1976. Credit: wikipedia|
In 1988, Bush ran a successful campaign to succeed Reagan as President, defeating Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis. Foreign policy drove the Bush presidency: military operations were conducted in Panama and the Persian Gulf; the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and the Soviet Union dissolved two years later. Domestically, Bush reneged on a 1988 campaign promise and, after a struggle with Congress, signed an increase in taxes that Congress had passed. In the wake of a weak recovery from an economic recession, along with continuing budget deficits and the controversy over his appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, he lost the 1992 presidential election to Democrat Bill Clinton.
|Bush with President Ronald Reagan Credit: wikipedia|
Bush left office in 1993. His presidential library was dedicated in 1997, and he has been active—often alongside Bill Clinton—in various humanitarian activities. Besides being the 43rd president (2001–09), his son George also served as the 46th Governor of Texas (1995–2000) and is one of only two presidents—the other being John Quincy Adams—to be the son of a former president. His second son, Jeb Bush, served as the 43rd Governor of Florida (1999–2007) and made an unsuccessful run for the Republican Party nomination for the office in 2016.
40th President of the United States January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
1911–2004 (Lived: 93 years)
Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was an American politician and actor who was the 40th President of the United States, from 1981 to 1989. Before his presidency, he was the 33rd Governor of California, from 1967 to 1975, after a career as a Hollywood actor and union leader.
|Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan Credit: wikipedia|
Raised in a poor family in small towns of northern Illinois, Reagan graduated from Eureka College in 1932 and worked as a sports announcer on several regional radio stations. After moving to Hollywood in 1937, he became an actor and starred in a few major productions. Reagan was twice elected President of the Screen Actors Guild, the labor union for actors, where he worked to root out Communist influence. In the 1950s, he moved into television and was a motivational speaker at General Electric factories. Having been a lifelong Democrat, his views changed. He became a conservative and in 1962 switched to the Republican Party.
|Ronald and Nancy Reagan aboard a boat in California, 1964 Credit: wikipedia|
In 1964, Reagan's speech, "A Time for Choosing", in support of Barry Goldwater's foundering presidential campaign, earned him national attention as a new conservative spokesman. Building a network of supporters, he was elected Governor of California in 1966. As governor, Reagan raised taxes, turned a state budget deficit to a surplus, challenged the protesters at the University of California, ordered National Guard troops in during a period of protest movements in 1969, and was re-elected in 1970. He twice ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency in 1968 and 1976; four years later, he easily won the nomination outright, becoming the oldest elected U.S. president up to that time, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980.
|Meeting with President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon, July 1970 Credit: wikipedia|
Entering the presidency in 1981, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics", advocated tax rate reduction to spur economic growth, control of the money supply to curb inflation, economic deregulation, and reduction in government spending. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, spurred the War on Drugs, and fought public sector labor. Over his two terms, the economy saw a reduction of inflation from 12.5% to 4.4%, and an average annual growth of real GDP of 3.4; while Reagan did enact cuts in domestic discretionary spending, increased military spending contributed to increased federal outlays overall, even after adjustment for inflation. During his re-election bid, Reagan campaigned on the notion that it was "Morning in America", winning a landslide in 1984 with the largest electoral college victory in history. Foreign affairs dominated his second term, including ending of the Cold War, the bombing of Libya, and the Iran–Contra affair.
|On the podium with Gerald Ford after narrowly losing the presidential nomination at the 1976 Republican National Convention Credit: wikipedia|
Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", and during his famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate, President Reagan challenged Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!". He transitioned Cold War policy from détente to rollback, by escalating an arms race with the USSR while engaging in talks with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, which culminated in the INF Treaty, shrinking both countries' nuclear arsenals. Reagan's presidency came during the decline of the Soviet Union. Ten months after the end of his term, the Berlin Wall fell, and on December 26, 1991, nearly three years after he left office, the Soviet Union collapsed.
Leaving office in 1989, Reagan held an approval rating of sixty-eight percent, matching those of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later Bill Clinton, as the highest ratings for departing presidents in the modern era. He was the first president since Dwight D. Eisenhower to serve two full terms, after a succession of five prior presidents failed to do so. While having planned an active post-presidency, in 1994 Reagan disclosed his diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease earlier that year, appearing publicly for the last time at the funeral of Richard Nixon; he died ten years later in 2004 at the age of 93. An icon among Republicans, he is viewed favorably in historian rankings of U.S. presidents, and his tenure constituted a realignment toward conservative policies in the U.S.
39th President of the United States January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
Born 1924 (92 years old)
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. In 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Carter Center.
Carter, a Democrat raised in rural Georgia, was a peanut farmer who served two terms as a Georgia State Senator, from 1963 to 1967, and one as the Governor of Georgia, from 1971 to 1975. He was elected President in 1976, defeating incumbent President Gerald Ford in a relatively close election; the Electoral College margin of 57 votes was the closest at that time since 1916.
|James Earl "Jimmy" Carter Credit: wikipedia|
On his second day in office, Carter pardoned all evaders of the Vietnam War drafts. During Carter's term as President, two new cabinet-level departments, the Department of Energy and the Department of Education, were established. He established a national energy policy that included conservation, price control, and new technology. In foreign affairs, Carter pursued the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II), and the return of the Panama Canal Zone to Panama. On the economic front he confronted persistent "stagflation", a combination of high inflation, high unemployment and slow growth. The end of his presidential tenure was marked by the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
|Carter meeting Deng Xiaoping, leader of China from 1978 to 1992 Credit: wikipedia|
In response to the Soviet move he ended détente, escalated the Cold War, and led the international boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. By 1980, Carter's popularity had eroded such that, running for re-election that year, he was challenged by Senator Ted Kennedy in the Democratic Party's primaries for the presidential nomination, marking the most recent Democratic primary in which an incumbent faced serious opposition. Carter won the 1980 primary with 51.13% of the vote (all incumbent candidates since have won at least 72.8% of their party's primary votes) but lost the general election in an electoral landslide to Republican nominee Ronald Reagan, who won 44 of 50 states.
His presidency has drawn medium-low responses from historians, with many considering him to have brought greater accomplishment with his post-presidency work. He set up the Carter Center in 1982 as his base for advancing human rights. He has also traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, observe elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. Additionally, Carter is a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity project. He has been the longest-retired president in American history since September 2012, when he surpassed Herbert Hoover. He is also the first president to mark the 40th anniversary of his election and inauguration.
|President George W. Bush invited former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter (far right), and President-elect Barack Obama for a meeting and lunch at The White House on January 7, 2009 Credit: wikipedia|
Regarding current political views, he has criticized some of Israel's actions and policies in regards to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and has advocated for a two-state solution. He has vigorously opposed the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC to strike down McCain-Feingold limits on campaign spending by corporations and unions, saying that the U.S. is "no longer a functioning democracy" and now has a system of "unlimited political bribery." He supported former President Barack Obama during his time in office but was critical of aspects of his foreign policy, particularly with regard to the use of drones and Obama's failure to close Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
38th President of the United States August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
1913–2006 (Lived: 93 years)
Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King, Jr.; July 14, 1913 – December 26, 2006) was an American politician who served as the 38th President of the United States from 1974 to 1977.
|Ford, arms folded, in front of a United States flag and the Presidential seal. Credit: wikipedia|
Prior to this he was the 40th Vice President of the United States, serving from 1973 until President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974. He was the first person appointed to the vice presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, following the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew on October 10, 1973. Becoming president upon Richard Nixon's departure on August 9, 1974, he claimed the distinction as the first and to date only person to have served as both Vice President and President of the United States without being elected to either office. Before ascending to the vice presidency, Ford served 25 years as U.S. Representative from Michigan's 5th congressional district, the final nine of them as the House Minority Leader.
As President, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam nine months into his presidency, U.S. involvement in Vietnam essentially ended. Domestically, Ford presided over the worst economy in the four decades since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure. One of his more controversial acts was to grant a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. During Ford's presidency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President. In the Republican presidential primary campaign of 1976, Ford defeated then-former California Governor Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination. He narrowly lost the presidential election to the Democratic challenger, then-former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter, on November 2.
|The Fords on their wedding day, October 15, 1948 Credit: wikipedia|
Following his years as President, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. After experiencing health problems, he died in his home on December 26, 2006. Ford lived longer than any other U.S. president, 93 years and 165 days, while his 895-day presidency remains the shortest term of all presidents who did not die in office.
37th President of the United States January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
1913–1994 (Lived: 81 years)
Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was an American politician who served as the 37th President of the United States from 1969 until 1974, when he became the only U.S. president to resign from office. He had previously served as a U.S. Representative and Senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
|Richard M. Nixon, ca. 1935 - 1982 Credit: wikipedia|
Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. After completing his undergraduate studies at Whittier College, he graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1937 and returned to California to practice law. He and his wife Pat moved to Washington in 1942 to work for the federal government. He subsequently served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Reserve during World War II. Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. His pursuit of the Hiss Case established his reputation as a leading anti-communist, and elevated him to national prominence. He was the running mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 1952 election. Nixon served for eight years as vice president. He waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy, and lost a race for Governor of California to Pat Brown in 1962. In 1968, he ran for the presidency again and was elected by defeating incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey.
|Vice President Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev speak as the press looks on in part of what came to be known as the Kitchen Debate, July 24, 1959. Credit: wikipedia|
Nixon ended American involvement in the war in Vietnam in 1973 and brought the American POWs home, and ended the military draft. Nixon's visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972 opened diplomatic relations between the two nations, and he initiated détente and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union the same year. His administration generally transferred power from Washington D.C. to the states. He imposed wage and price controls for a period of ninety days, enforced desegregation of Southern schools and established the Environmental Protection Agency. Nixon also presided over the Apollo 11 moon landing, which signaled the end of the moon race. He was reelected in one of the largest electoral landslides in U.S. history in 1972, when he defeated George McGovern.
|Nixon and Johnson meet at the White House before Nixon's nomination, July 1968. Credit: wikipedia|
The year 1973 saw an Arab oil embargo, gasoline rationing, and a continuing series of revelations about the Watergate scandal. The scandal escalated, costing Nixon much of his political support, and on August 9, 1974, he resigned in the face of almost certain impeachment and removal from office. After his resignation, he was issued a pardon by his successor, Gerald Ford. In retirement, Nixon's work writing several books and undertaking of many foreign trips helped to rehabilitate his image. He suffered a debilitating stroke on April 18, 1994, and died four days later at the age of 81.
36th President of the United States November 22, 1963 –January 20, 1969
1908–1973 (Lived: 64 years)
Lyndon Baines Johnson ( August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th President of the United States from 1963 to 1969, assuming the office after serving as the 37th Vice President of the United States under President John F. Kennedy, from 1961 to 1963. Johnson was a Democrat from Texas, who served as a United States Representative from 1937 to 1949 and as a United States Senator from 1949 to 1961. He spent six years as Senate Majority Leader, two as Senate Minority Leader, and two as Senate Majority Whip.
|Photo portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Oval Office, leaning on a chair. Credit: wikipedia|
Johnson ran for the Democratic nomination in the 1960 presidential election. Although unsuccessful, he was chosen by Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts to be his running mate. They went on to win a close election over Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge. Johnson was sworn in as Vice President on January 20, 1961. Two years and ten months later, on November 22, 1963, Johnson succeeded Kennedy as President following the latter's assassination. He ran for a full term in the 1964 election, winning by a landslide over Republican opponent Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. He is one of only four people who have served as President, Vice President, Senator, and Representative. Johnson was renowned for his domineering, sometimes abrasive, personality, and the "Johnson treatment"—his aggressive coercion of powerful politicians to advance legislation.
|President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Governor James Allred of Texas, and Johnson, 1937. Johnson later used an edited version of this photo, with Allred airbrushed out, in his 1941 senatorial campaign Credit: wikipedia|
Johnson designed the "Great Society" legislation upholding civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to education, the arts, urban and rural development, public services, and his "War on Poverty". Assisted in part by a growing economy, the War on Poverty helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line during Johnson's presidency. Civil rights bills signed by Johnson banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace, and housing; and the Voting Rights Act banned certain requirements in southern states used to disenfranchise African Americans. With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the country's immigration system was reformed and all racial origin quotas were removed (replaced by national origin quotas).
Johnson escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted Johnson the power to use military force in Southeast Asia without having to ask for an official declaration of war. The number of American military personnel in Vietnam increased dramatically, from 16,000 advisors in non-combat roles in 1963, to 550,000 in early 1968, many in combat roles. American casualties soared and the peace process bogged down. Growing unease with the war stimulated a large, angry antiwar movement based especially on university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.
Johnson faced further troubles when summer riots broke out in most major cities after 1965, and crime rates soared, as his opponents raised demands for "law and order" policies. While he began his presidency with widespread approval, support for Johnson declined as the public became upset with both the war and the growing violence at home. In 1968, the Democratic Party factionalized as antiwar elements denounced Johnson; he ended his bid for renomination after a disappointing finish in the New Hampshire primary. Republican Richard Nixon was elected to succeed him, as the New Deal coalition that had dominated presidential politics for 36 years collapsed. After he left office in January 1969, Johnson returned to his Texas ranch where he died of a heart attack at age 64 on January 22, 1973.
|Being sworn in on Air Force One by Judge Sarah Hughes as Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Kennedy look on Credit: wikipedia|
Historians argue that Johnson's presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism in the United States after the New Deal era. Johnson is ranked favorably by some historians because of his domestic policies and the passage of many major laws, affecting civil rights, gun control, wilderness preservation, and Social Security.
35th President of the United States January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
1917–1963 (Lived: 46 years)
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), commonly referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. The Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the establishment of the Peace Corps, developments in the Space Race, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Trade Expansion Act to lower tariffs, and the Civil Rights Movement all took place during his presidency. A member of the Democratic Party, his New Frontier domestic program was largely enacted as a memorial to him after his death. Kennedy also established the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.
|Photo portrait of John F. Kennedy, President of the United States Credit: wikipedia|
Kennedy's time in office was marked by high tensions with Communist states. He increased the number of American military advisers in South Vietnam by a factor of 18 over Eisenhower. In Cuba, a failed attempt was made at the Bay of Pigs to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro in April 1961. He subsequently rejected plans by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to orchestrate false-flag attacks on American soil in order to gain public approval for a war against Cuba. In October 1962, it was discovered Soviet ballistic missiles had been deployed in Cuba; the resulting period of unease, termed the Cuban Missile Crisis, is seen by many historians as the closest the human race has ever come to nuclear war between nuclear armed belligerents.
|Kennedy nominating Adlai Stevenson II for the presidential nomination at the 1952 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Credit: wikipedia|
After military service in the United States Naval Reserve in World War II, Kennedy represented Massachusetts's 11th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953. He was elected subsequently to the U.S. Senate and served as the junior Senator from Massachusetts from 1953 until 1960. Kennedy defeated Vice President, and Republican candidate, Richard Nixon in the 1960 U.S. Presidential Election. At age 43, he became the youngest elected president and the second-youngest president (after Theodore Roosevelt, who was 42 when he became president after the assassination of William McKinley). Kennedy was also the first person born in the 20th century to serve as president.To date, Kennedy has been the only Roman Catholic president and the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize (for his biography Profiles in Courage).
|John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame memorial Credit: wikipedia|
Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested that afternoon and determined to have fired shots that hit the President from a sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby fatally shot Oswald two days later in a jail corridor. The FBI and the Warren Commission officially concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin, but its report was sharply criticized. The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) agreed that Oswald fired the shots that killed the president, but also concluded that Kennedy was likely assassinated as the result of a conspiracy.The majority of Americans alive at the time of the assassination (52% to 29%), and continuing through 2013 (61% to 30%), believed that there was a conspiracy and that Oswald was not the only shooter.
Since the 1960s, information concerning Kennedy's private life has come to light, including his health problems and allegations of infidelity. Kennedy continues to rank highly in historians' polls of U.S. presidents and with the general public. His average approval rating of 70% is the highest of any president in Gallup's history of systematically measuring job approval
34th resident of the United States 1890–1969
(Lived: 78 years)
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. He was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45 from the Western Front. In 1951 he became the first Supreme Commander of NATO.
|Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States Credit: wikipedia|
Eisenhower was of Pennsylvania Dutch, and (a trace amount of) Irish ancestry, and was raised in a large family in Kansas by parents with a strong religious background. He graduated from West Point in 1915 and later married Mamie Doud and had two sons. After World War II, Eisenhower served as Army Chief of Staff under President Harry S. Truman and then accepted the post of President at Columbia University.
Eisenhower entered the 1952 presidential race as a Republican to counter the non-interventionism of Senator Robert A. Taft, campaigning against "communism, Korea and corruption." He won in a landslide, defeating Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson and temporarily upending the New Deal Coalition. Eisenhower was the first U.S. president to be constitutionally term-limited under the 22nd Amendment and the only president born before the 20th century to be so.
|Eisenhower, pictured here in 1942 as a major general Credit: wikipedia|
Eisenhower's main goals in office were to keep pressure on the Soviet Union and reduce federal deficits. In the first year of his presidency, he threatened the use of nuclear weapons in an effort to conclude the Korean War; his New Look policy of nuclear deterrence prioritized inexpensive nuclear weapons while reducing funding for conventional military forces. He ordered coups in Iran and Guatemala. Eisenhower gave major aid to help the French in the First Indochina War, and after the French were defeated he gave strong financial support to the new nation of South Vietnam. Congress agreed to his request in 1955 for the Formosa Resolution, which obliged the U.S. to militarily support the pro-Western Taiwan and continue the isolation of the People's Republic of China.
After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, Eisenhower authorized the establishment of NASA, which led to the space race. During the Suez Crisis of 1956, Eisenhower condemned the Israeli, British and French invasion of Egypt, and forced them to withdraw. He also condemned the Soviet invasion during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 but took no action. In 1958, Eisenhower sent 15,000 U.S. troops to Lebanon to prevent the pro-Western government from falling to a Nasser-inspired revolution. Near the end of his term, his efforts to set up a summit meeting with the Soviets collapsed because of the U-2 incident. In his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, Eisenhower expressed his concerns about the dangers of massive military spending, particularly deficit spending and government contracts to private military manufacturers, and coined the term "military–industrial complex".
|Eisenhower speaks with men of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division, on June 5, 1944, the day before the D-Day invasion. Credit: wikipedia|
On the domestic front, he covertly opposed Joseph McCarthy and contributed to the end of McCarthyism by openly invoking executive privilege. He otherwise left most political activity to his Vice President, Richard Nixon. Eisenhower was a moderate conservative who continued New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security. He also launched the Interstate Highway System, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the establishment of strong science education via the National Defense Education Act, and encouraged peaceful use of nuclear power via amendments to the Atomic Energy Act.
|The Supreme Commanders of the Four Powers on June 5, 1945, in Berlin: Bernard Montgomery, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Georgy Zhukov and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny Credit: wikipedia|
Eisenhower's two terms saw considerable economic prosperity except for a sharp recession in 1958–59. Voted Gallup's most admired man twelve times, he achieved widespread popular esteem both in and out of office. Since the late 20th century, consensus among Western scholars has consistently held Eisenhower as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.
33rd President of the United States April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
1884–1972 (Lived: 88 years)
Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was an American politician who served as the 33rd President of the United States (1945–53), coming to office on the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the last months of World War II. He is known for launching the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, for leading the Cold War against Soviet communism through the Truman Doctrine and NATO, and intervening in the Korean War. In domestic affairs, he was a moderate Democrat whose liberal proposals were a continuation of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, but the Conservative-dominated Congress blocked most of them. He holds the record for vetoes at 180, and saw 12 overridden by Congress; Gerald Ford later tied that record.He used presidential authority to mandate equal treatment for blacks in the military and put civil rights on the national political agenda.
|Harry S. Truman, President of the USA in 1945. Credit: wikipedia|
Truman served as a United States Senator from Missouri (1935–45) and briefly as Vice President (1945) before he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945 upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He presided over an unexpected surge in economic prosperity as America sought readjustment after long years of depression and war. His political coalition was based on the white South, labor unions, farmers, ethnic groups, and traditional Democrats across the North. Truman was able to rally these groups of supporters during the 1948 presidential election and win election to a presidential term in his own right.
Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri, and spent most of his youth on his family's 600-acre farm near Independence. In the last months of World War I, he served in combat in France as an artillery officer with his National Guard unit. After the war, he briefly owned a haberdashery in Kansas City, Missouri, and joined the Democratic Party and the political machine of Tom Pendergast. Truman was first elected to public office as a county official in 1922, and then as a U.S. Senator in 1934. He gained national prominence as chairman of the Truman Committee, formed in March 1941, which exposed waste, fraud, and corruption in Federal Government wartime contracts.
|Truman in uniform ca. 1918 Credit: wikipedia|
Germany surrendered on Truman's birthday, just a few weeks after he assumed the presidency, but the war with Imperial Japan raged on and was expected to last at least another year. Truman approved the use of atomic bombs to end the fighting and to spare the hundreds of thousands of American and Japanese lives that would inevitably be lost in the planned invasion of Japan and Japanese held islands in the Pacific. Although this decision and the numerous issues that arose as a result of it remain the subject of debate to this day, it was one of the principal factors that forced Japan's unconditional surrender.
Truman's presidency was a turning point in foreign affairs, as the United States engaged in an internationalist foreign policy and renounced isolationism. Truman helped found the United Nations in 1945, issued the Truman Doctrine in 1947 to contain Communism, and got the $13 billion Marshall Plan enacted to rebuild Western Europe. The Soviet Union, a wartime ally, became a peacetime enemy in the Cold War. Truman oversaw the Berlin Airlift of 1948 and the creation of NATO in 1949, but was unable to stop Communists from taking over China. When communist North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, he sent U.S. troops and gained UN approval for the Korean War.After initial successes in Korea, however, the UN forces were thrown back by Chinese intervention, and the conflict was stalemated throughout the final years of Truman's presidency.
|Lauren Bacall lounges on top of the piano while Vice President Truman plays for servicemen at the National Press Club Canteen in Washington, D.C. (February 10, 1945) Credit: wikipedia|
On domestic issues, bills endorsed by Truman often faced opposition from a conservative Congress dominated by the Southern legislators, but his administration was able to successfully guide the American economy through the post-war economic challenges. Truman maintained that civil rights were a moral priority, and in 1948 submitted the first comprehensive civil rights legislation and issued Executive Orders to start racial integration in the military and federal agencies. Allegations were raised of corruption in the Truman administration, linked to certain cabinet members and senior White House staff; this became a central campaign issue in the 1952 presidential election, and helped account for Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower's electoral victory. Scholars, starting in 1962, ranked Truman's presidency as "near great"; since then he has ranked from 5th to 9th place from the top.
32nd President of the United States March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
Franklin D. Roosevelt
1882–1945 (Lived: 63 years)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), commonly known as FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd President of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945.
Running as a Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections (no other President had served more than two terms), was the longest-running president in U.S. history, and dominated his party after 1932 as a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century. He directed the United States government during an era of worldwide economic depression and total war.
|Original color transparency of FDR taken at 1944 Official Campaign Portrait session by Leon A. Perskie, Hyde Park, New York, August 21, 1944. Gift of Beatrice Perskie Foxman and Dr. Stanley B. Foxman. August 21, 1944 Credit: wikipedia|
Roosevelt was born in 1882 to an old, prominent Dutch family from Dutchess County, New York. He attended the elite educational institutions of Groton School, Harvard College, and Columbia Law School. At age 23 in 1905, he married Eleanor Roosevelt, with whom he fathered six children. He entered politics in 1910, serving in the New York State Senate, and then as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson.
|Gov. Roosevelt with his predecessor Al Smith, 1930. Credit: wikipedia|
During the depths of the Great Depression in 1932, Roosevelt defeated incumbent Republican president Herbert Hoover in a landslide to win the presidency. Energized by his personal victory over polio, FDR relied on his persistent optimism and activism to renew the national spirit. During his first 100 days in office (which began March 4, 1933), Roosevelt spearheaded unprecedented federal legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New Deal—a variety of programs designed to produce relief (government jobs for the unemployed), recovery (economic growth), and reform (through regulation of Wall Street, banks and transportation). He created numerous programs to support the unemployed and farmers, and to encourage labor union growth while more closely regulating business and high finance. His support for the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 added to his popularity, helping him win re-election by a landslide in 1936. The economy improved rapidly from 1933-37, but then relapsed into a deep recession in 1937–38. The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented his packing the Supreme Court, and blocked almost all proposals for major liberal legislation (except the minimum wage, which did pass). When the war began and unemployment ended, conservatives in Congress repealed the two major relief programs, the WPA and CCC. However, they kept most of the regulations on business. Along with several smaller programs, major surviving programs include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Wagner Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Social Security.
With World War II looming after 1938 with the Japanese invasion of China and the aggression of Nazi Germany, Roosevelt gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China and the United Kingdom, while remaining officially neutral. His goal was to make America the "Arsenal of Democracy", which would supply munitions to the Allies. In March 1941, Roosevelt, with Congressional approval, provided Lend-Lease aid to Britain and China.
|Outgoing president Herbert Hoover and Roosevelt on Inauguration Day, 1933. Credit: wikipedia|
During the war, unemployment dropped to 2%, relief programs largely ended, and the industrial economy grew rapidly to new heights as millions of people moved to wartime factory jobs or entered military service. Roosevelt's physical health had seriously declined during the war years, and he died three months into his fourth term. He is often rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. Presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
31st President of the United States March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
1874–1964 (Lived: 90 years)
Herbert Clark Hoover (August 10, 1874 – October 20, 1964) was an American politician who served as the 31st President of the United States from 1929 to 1933.
|President Hoover portrait Credit: wikipedia|
A lifelong Quaker, he became a successful mining engineer around the globe and retired in 1912. In the First World War he built an international reputation as a humanitarian by leading relief efforts in Belgium during the war, and in Eastern Europe afterwards. He headed the U.S. Food Administration during World War I. His reputation as a Progressive businessman fighting for efficiency and elimination of waste was built as the Secretary of Commerce 1921-28. Hoover was a leader in the Efficiency Movement, which held that every institution public and private was riddled with unsuspected inefficiencies. They all could be improved by experts who could identify the problems and solve them. He also believed in the importance of volunteerism and of the role of individuals in society and the economy. In the presidential election of 1928, Hoover easily won the Republican nomination, despite having no elected-office experience. Although Hoover never raised the religious issue, some of his supporters did in mobilizing anti-Catholic sentiment against his opponent Al Smith. Hoover won in a landslide.
When the Wall Street Crash of 1929 struck less than eight months after he took office, Hoover tried to combat the ensuing Great Depression in the United States with large-scale government public works projects such as the Hoover Dam, and calls on industry to keep wages high. He reluctantly approved the Smoot–Hawley Tariff of 1930, which sent foreign trade spiralling down. He believed it was essential to balance the budget despite falling tax revenue, so he raised the tax rates. The economy kept falling, and the unemployment rate rose to 25%, with heavy industry, mining, and wheat and cotton farming hit especially hard. This downward spiral, plus his support for prohibition policies that had lost favor, set the stage for Hoover's overwhelming defeat in 1932 by Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, who promised a New Deal. Most historians agree that Hoover's defeat in the 1932 election was caused primarily by the downward economic spiral, although his strong support for prohibition was also significant. Hoover is usually ranked lower than average among U.S. Presidents.
|Herbert Hoover with his dog, King Tut Credit: wikipedia|
30th President of the United States August 2, 1923– March 4, 1929
1872–1933 (Lived: 60 years)
John Calvin Coolidge Jr. (July 4, 1872 – January 5, 1933) was the 30th President of the United States (1923–29). A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state. His response to the Boston Police Strike of 1919 thrust him into the national spotlight and gave him a reputation as a man of decisive action. Soon after, he was elected as the 29th vice president in 1920 and succeeded to the presidency upon the sudden death of Warren G. Harding in 1923. Elected in his own right in 1924, he gained a reputation as a small-government conservative, and also as a man who said very little, although having a rather dry sense of humor.
|Calvin Coolidge, Governor of Massachusetts Credit: wikipedia|
|Coolidge inspects militia in Boston police strike Credit: wikipedia|
29th President of the United States March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923
Warren G. Harding
1865–1923 (Lived: 57 years)
Warren Gamaliel Harding (November 2, 1865 – August 2, 1923) was the 29th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1921 until his death in 1923. At the time of his death, he was one of the most popular presidents, but the subsequent exposure of scandals that took place under his administration, such as Teapot Dome, eroded his popular regard, as did revelations of an affair by Nan Britton, one of his mistresses. In historical rankings of the U.S. presidents, Harding is often rated among the worst.
|Warren G. Harding, by Harris & Ewing. Credit: wikipedia|
Harding ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1920, but he was considered an also-ran with little chance of success. The leading candidates, such as General Leonard Wood, could not gain a majority to secure the nomination, and the convention deadlocked. Harding's support gradually grew until he was nominated on the tenth ballot. He conducted a front porch campaign, remaining for the most part in Marion and allowing the people to come to him. He won in a landslide over Democrat James M. Cox and Socialist Party candidate Eugene Debs, running on a theme of return to normalcy and becoming the first sitting senator to be elected president.
|Warren G. Harding c. 1919 Credit: wikipedia|
28th President of the United States March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921
1856–1924 (Lived: 67 years)
Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was an American politician and academic who served as the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921. Born in Staunton, Virginia, he spent his early years in Augusta, Georgia and Columbia, South Carolina.
|Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America. Credit: wikipedia|
|Wilson c. mid-1870s Credit: wikipedia|
|Wilson – Princeton's president (1902) Credit: wikipedia|
In his 1915 State of the Union Address, Wilson asked Congress for what became the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918, suppressing anti-draft activists. The crackdown was intensified by his Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer to include expulsion of non-citizen radicals during the First Red Scare of 1919–1920. Following years of advocacy for suffrage on the state level, in 1918 he endorsed the Nineteenth Amendment, whose ratification in 1920 provided an equal right to vote for women across the United States, over Southern opposition. Wilson staffed his government with Southern Democrats who implemented racial segregation at the Treasury, Navy and other Federal offices. He gave department heads greater autonomy in their management. Early in 1918, he issued his principles for peace, the Fourteen Points, and in 1919, following armistice, he traveled to Paris, promoting the formation of a League of Nations, and concluding the Treaty of Versailles. Following his return from Europe, Wilson embarked on a nationwide tour in 1919 to campaign for the treaty, suffering a severe stroke. The treaty was met with serious concern by Senate Republicans, and Wilson rejected a compromise effort led by Henry Cabot Lodge, leading to the Senate's rejection of the treaty. Due to his stroke, Wilson secluded himself in the White House, disability having diminished his power and influence. Forming a strategy for re-election, Wilson deadlocked the 1920 Democratic National Convention, but his bid for a third-term nomination was overlooked.
Wilson was a devoted Presbyterian and Georgist, and he infused his views of morality into his domestic and international policies. He appointed several well known radically progressive 'single taxers' (Georgists) to prominent positions in his administration. His ideology of internationalism is now referred to as "Wilsonian", an activist foreign policy calling on the nation to promote global democracy. For his sponsorship of the League of Nations, Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize, the second of three sitting presidents so honored.
27th President of the United States March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
William Howard Taft
1857–1930 (Lived: 72 years)
William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) served as the 27th President of the United States (1909–1913) and as the 10th Chief Justice of the United States (1921–1930), the only person to have held both offices. Taft was elected president in 1908, the chosen successor of Theodore Roosevelt, but was defeated for re-election by Woodrow Wilson in 1912 after Roosevelt split the Republican vote by running as a third-party candidate. In 1921, President Warren G. Harding appointed Taft to be chief justice, a position in which he served until a month before his death.
|William Howard Taft, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front Credit: wikipedia|
|Taft's first cabinet, 1910 Credit: wikipedia|
With Roosevelt's help, Taft had little opposition for the Republican nomination for president in 1908, and easily defeated William Jennings Bryan for the presidency that November. In the White House, he focused on East Asia more than European affairs, and repeatedly intervened to prop up or remove Latin American governments. Taft sought reductions to trade tariffs, then a major source of governmental income, but the resulting bill was heavily influenced by special interests. His administration was filled with conflict between the conservative wing of the Republican Party, with which Taft often sympathized, and the progressive wing, toward which Roosevelt moved more and more. Controversies over conservation and over antitrust cases filed by the Taft administration served to further separate the two men. Roosevelt challenged Taft for renomination in 1912. Taft used his control of the party machinery to gain a bare majority of delegates, and Roosevelt bolted the party. The split left Taft with little chance of re-election, and took only Utah and Vermont in Wilson's victory.
|Taft's second cabinet, 1912 Credit: wikipedia|
After leaving office, Taft returned to Yale as a professor, continuing his political activity and working against war through the League to Enforce Peace. In 1921, President Harding appointed Taft as chief justice, an office he had long sought. Chief Justice Taft was a conservative on business issues, but under him, there were advances in individual rights. In poor health, he resigned in February 1930. After his death the next month, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the first president and first Supreme Court justice to be interred there. Taft is generally listed near the middle in historians' rankings of U.S. presidents.
26th President of the United States September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
1858–1919 (Lived: 60 years)
Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was an American statesman, author, explorer, soldier, naturalist, and reformer who served as the 26th President of the United States from 1901 to 1909. As a leader of the Republican Party during this time, he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century.
|Photograph showing head and shoulders, facing slightly left. Credit: wikipedia|
Born a sickly child with debilitating asthma, Roosevelt successfully overcame his health problems by embracing a strenuous lifestyle. He integrated his exuberant personality, vast range of interests, and world-famous achievements into a "cowboy" persona defined by robust masculinity. Home-schooled, he began a lifelong naturalist avocation before attending Harvard College. His first of many books, The Naval War of 1812 (1882), established his reputation as both a learned historian and as a popular writer. Upon entering politics, he became the leader of the reform faction of Republicans in New York's state legislature. Following the deaths of his wife and mother, he took time to grieve by escaping to the wilderness of the American West and operating a cattle ranch in the Dakotas for a time, before returning East to run unsuccessfully for Mayor of New York City in 1886. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under William McKinley, resigning after one year to serve with the Rough Riders, where he gained national fame for courage during the Spanish–American War.
|Theodore Roosevelt as Badlands hunter in 1885. New York studio photo. Credit: wikipedia|
Returning a war hero, he was elected governor of New York in 1898. The state party leadership distrusted him, so they took the lead in moving him to the prestigious but powerless role of vice president as McKinley's running mate in the election of 1900. Roosevelt campaigned vigorously across the country, helping McKinley's re-election in a landslide victory based on a platform of peace, prosperity, and conservatism.
Following the assassination of President McKinley in September 1901, Roosevelt succeeded to the office at age 42, becoming the youngest United States President in history. Leading his party and country into the Progressive Era, he championed his "Square Deal" domestic policies, promising the average citizen fairness, breaking of trusts, regulation of railroads, and pure food and drugs. Making conservation a top priority, he established a myriad of new national parks, forests, and monuments intended to preserve the nation's natural resources. In foreign policy, he focused on Central America, where he began construction of the Panama Canal. He greatly expanded the United States Navy, and sent the Great White Fleet on a world tour to project the United States' naval power around the globe. His successful efforts to end the Russo-Japanese War won him the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize.
|Colonel Roosevelt and the Rough Riders after capturing Kettle Hill along with members of the 3rd Volunteers and the regular Army black 10th Cavalry Credit: wikipedia|
Elected in 1904 to a full term, Roosevelt continued to promote progressive policies, but many of his efforts and much of his legislative agenda were eventually blocked in Congress. Roosevelt successfully groomed his close friend, William Howard Taft, to succeed him in the presidency. After leaving office, Roosevelt went on safari in Africa and toured Europe. Returning to the U.S., he became frustrated with Taft's approach as his successor. He tried but failed to win the presidential nomination in 1912. Roosevelt founded his own party, the Progressive, so-called "Bull Moose" Party, and called for wide-ranging progressive reforms. The split among Republicans enabled the Democrats to win both the White House and a majority in the Congress in 1912. Republicans aligned with Taft nationally would control the Republican Party for decades.
Frustrated at home, Roosevelt led a two-year expedition in the Amazon Basin, nearly dying of tropical disease. During World War I, he opposed President Woodrow Wilson for keeping the U.S. out of the war against Germany, and offered his military services, which were never summoned. Although planning to run again for president in 1920, Roosevelt suffered deteriorating health and died in early 1919. Roosevelt has consistently been ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. presidents.Historians admire Roosevelt for rooting out corruption in his administration, but are critical of his 1909 libel lawsuits against the World and the News. His face was carved into Mount Rushmore alongside those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.
25th President of the United States March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
1843–1901 (Lived: 58 years)
William McKinley (January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901) was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 25th President of the United States from March 4, 1897 until his assassination in September 1901, six months into his second term. McKinley led the nation to victory in the Spanish–American War, raised protective tariffs to promote American industry, and maintained the nation on the gold standard in a rejection of inflationary proposals.
|25th President of the United States Credit: wikipedia|
McKinley was the last president to have served in the American Civil War, beginning as a private in the Union Army and ending as a brevet major. After the war, he settled in Canton, Ohio, where he practiced law and married Ida Saxton. In 1876, he was elected to Congress, where he became the Republican Party's expert on the protective tariff, which he promised would bring prosperity. His 1890 McKinley Tariff was highly controversial; which together with a Democratic redistricting aimed at gerrymandering him out of office, led to his defeat in the Democratic landslide of 1890. He was elected Ohio's governor in 1891 and 1893, steering a moderate course between capital and labor interests. With the aid of his close adviser Mark Hanna, he secured the Republican nomination for president in 1896, amid a deep economic depression. He defeated his Democratic rival, William Jennings Bryan, after a front-porch campaign in which he advocated "sound money" (the gold standard unless altered by international agreement) and promised that high tariffs would restore prosperity.
|Representative McKinley Credit: wikipedia|
Rapid economic growth marked McKinley's presidency. He promoted the 1897 Dingley Tariff to protect manufacturers and factory workers from foreign competition, and in 1900, he secured the passage of the Gold Standard Act. McKinley hoped to persuade Spain to grant independence to rebellious Cuba without conflict, but when negotiation failed, he led the nation in the Spanish–American War of 1898; the U.S. victory was quick and decisive. As part of the peace settlement, Spain turned over to the United States its main overseas colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; Cuba was promised independence, but at that time remained under the control of the U.S. Army. The United States annexed the independent Republic of Hawaii in 1898 and it became a U.S. territory.
Historians regard McKinley's 1896 victory as a realigning election, in which the political stalemate of the post–Civil War era gave way to the Republican-dominated Fourth Party System, which began with the Progressive Era. McKinley defeated Bryan again in the 1900 presidential election, in a campaign focused on imperialism, protectionism, and free silver. However, his legacy was quickly cut short when he was shot on September 6, 1901 by Leon Czolgosz, a second-generation Polish-American with anarchist leanings; McKinley died eight days later, and was succeeded by his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt. As an innovator of American interventionism and pro-business sentiment, McKinley's presidency is generally considered above average, though his universally positive public perception was soon overshadowed by Roosevelt.
22nd and 24th President of the United States March 4, 1893 – March 4, 1897
1837–1908 (Lived: 71 years)
Stephen Grover Cleveland (March 18, 1837 – June 24, 1908) was an American politician and lawyer who was the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. He won the popular vote for three presidential elections – in 1884, 1888, and 1892 – and was one of two Democrats (with Woodrow Wilson) to be elected president during the era of Republican political domination dating from 1861 to 1933. He was also the first and to date only President in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office.
|General notes: Use Presidents List Number 5 when ordering a reproduction or requesting information about this image. Credit: wikipedia|
Cleveland was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs, Free Silver, inflation, imperialism, and subsidies to business, farmers, or veterans. His crusade for political reform and fiscal conservatism made him an icon for American conservatives of the era.Cleveland won praise for his honesty, self-reliance, integrity, and commitment to the principles of classical liberalism.He fought political corruption, patronage, and bossism. As a reformer Cleveland had such prestige that the like-minded wing of the Republican Party, called "Mugwumps", largely bolted the GOP presidential ticket and swung to his support in the 1884 election.
As his second administration began, disaster hit the nation when the Panic of 1893 produced a severe national depression, which Cleveland was unable to reverse. It ruined his Democratic Party, opening the way for a Republican landslide in 1894 and for the agrarian and silverite seizure of the Democratic Party in 1896. The result was a political realignment that ended the Third Party System and launched the Fourth Party System and the Progressive Era.
|Gubernatorial portrait of Grover Cleveland Credit: wikipedia|
Cleveland was a formidable policymaker, and he also drew corresponding criticism. His intervention in the Pullman Strike of 1894 to keep the railroads moving angered labor unions nationwide in addition to the party in Illinois; his support of the gold standard and opposition to Free Silver alienated the agrarian wing of the Democratic Party. Critics complained that Cleveland had little imagination and seemed overwhelmed by the nation's economic disasters—depressions and strikes—in his second term.Even so, his reputation for probity and good character survived the troubles of his second term. Biographer Allan Nevins wrote, "In Grover Cleveland, the greatness lies in typical rather than unusual qualities. He had no endowments that thousands of men do not have.
He possessed honesty, courage, firmness, independence, and common sense. But he possessed them to a degree other men do not." Today, Cleveland is considered by most historians to have been a successful leader, generally ranked among the second tier of American presidents.
23rd President of the United States March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1893
1833–1901 (Lived: 67 years)
Benjamin Harrison (August 20, 1833 – March 13, 1901) was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 23rd President of the United States from 1889 to 1893; he was the grandson of the ninth president, William Henry Harrison, creating the only grandfather-grandson duo to hold the office. Before ascending to the presidency, Harrison established himself as a prominent local attorney, Presbyterian church leader and politician in Indianapolis, Indiana. During the American Civil War, he served the Union as a colonel and on February 14, 1865 was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a brevet brigadier general of volunteers to rank from January 23, 1865. After the war, he unsuccessfully ran for the governorship of Indiana. He was later elected to the U.S. Senate by the Indiana legislature.
|1896 Pach Brothers studio photograph of United States President Benjamin Harrison. Credit: wikipedia|
A Republican, Harrison was elected to the presidency in 1888, defeating the Democratic incumbent Grover Cleveland. Hallmarks of his administration included unprecedented economic legislation, including the McKinley Tariff, which imposed historic protective trade rates, and the Sherman Antitrust Act; Harrison facilitated the creation of the National Forests through an amendment to the Land Revision Act of 1891. He also substantially strengthened and modernized the Navy, and conducted an active foreign policy. He proposed, in vain, federal education funding as well as voting rights enforcement for African Americans during his administration.
|Brigadier General Harrison (left) with other commanders of the XX Corps, 1865 Credit: wikipedia|
Due in large part to surplus revenues from the tariffs, federal spending reached one billion dollars for the first time during his term. The spending issue in part led to the defeat of the Republicans in the 1890 mid-term elections. Harrison was defeated by Cleveland in his bid for re-election in 1892, due to the growing unpopularity of the high tariff and high federal spending. He then returned to private life in Indianapolis but later represented the Republic of Venezuela in an international case against the United Kingdom. In 1900, he traveled to Europe as part of the case and, after a brief stay, returned to Indianapolis. He died the following year of complications from influenza. Although many have praised Harrison's commitment to African Americans' voting rights, scholars and historians generally regard his administration as below-average, and rank him in the bottom half among U.S. presidents. Historians, however, have not questioned Harrison's commitment to personal and official integrity.
21st President of the United States September 19, 1881 – March 4, 1885
1829–1886 (Lived: 57 years)
Chester Alan Arthur (October 5, 1829 – November 18, 1886) was an American attorney and politician who served as the 21st President of the United States (1881–85); he succeeded James A. Garfield upon the latter's assassination. At the outset, Arthur struggled to overcome a slightly negative reputation, which stemmed from his early career in politics as part of New York's Republican political machine. He succeeded by embracing the cause of civil service reform. His advocacy for, and subsequent enforcement of, the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was the centerpiece of his administration.
|Chester A. Arthur, President of the United States, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left. Credit: wikipedia|
Arthur was born in Fairfield, Vermont, grew up in upstate New York, and practiced law in New York City. He served as quartermaster general in the New York Militia during the American Civil War. Following the war, he devoted more time to Republican politics and quickly rose in the political machine run by New York Senator Roscoe Conkling. Appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant to the lucrative and politically powerful post of Collector of the Port of New York in 1871, Arthur was an important supporter of Conkling and the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party. In 1878, the new president, Rutherford B. Hayes, fired Arthur as part of a plan to reform the federal patronage system in New York. When Garfield won the Republican nomination for president in 1880, Arthur, an eastern Stalwart, was nominated for vice president to balance the ticket.
After just half a year as vice president, Arthur found himself in the executive mansion due to the assassination of his predecessor. To the surprise of reformers, Arthur took up the cause of reform, though it had once led to his expulsion from office. He signed the Pendleton Act into law and strongly enforced its provisions. He gained praise for his veto of a Rivers and Harbors Act that would have appropriated federal funds in a manner he thought excessive. He presided over the rebirth of the United States Navy, but was criticized for failing to alleviate the federal budget surplus, which had been accumulating since the end of the Civil War.
|Arthur as a young lawyer Credit: wikipedia|
Suffering from poor health, Arthur made only a limited effort to secure the Republican Party's nomination in 1884; he retired at the close of his term. Journalist Alexander McClure later wrote, "No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted as Chester Alan Arthur, and no one ever retired ... more generally respected, alike by political friend and foe."Although his failing health and political temperament combined to make his administration less active than a modern presidency, he earned praise among contemporaries for his solid performance in office. The New York World summed up Arthur's presidency at his death in 1886: "No duty was neglected in his administration, and no adventurous project alarmed the nation."Mark Twain wrote of him, "It would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration."Over the 20th and 21st centuries, however, Arthur's reputation mostly faded among the public.
20th President of the United States March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
James A. Garfield
1831–1881 (Lived: 49 years)
James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881) was the 20th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1881, until his assassination later that year. Garfield had served nine terms in the House of Representatives, and had been elected to the Senate before his candidacy for the White House, though he declined the Senate seat once he was elected President. He is the only sitting House member to be elected president.
|Garfield wears a double breasted suit and has a full beard and receding hairline Credit: wikipedia|
Garfield was raised in humble circumstances on an Ohio farm by his widowed mother. He worked at various jobs, including on a canal boat, in his youth. Beginning at age 17, he attended several Ohio schools, then studied at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 1856. A year later, Garfield entered politics as a Republican. He married Lucretia Rudolph in 1858, and served as a member of the Ohio State Senate (1859–1861). Garfield opposed Confederate secession, served as a major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, and fought in the battles of Middle Creek, Shiloh, and Chickamauga. He was first elected to Congress in 1862 to represent Ohio's 19th District. Throughout Garfield's extended congressional service after the Civil War, he firmly supported the gold standard and gained a reputation as a skilled orator. Garfield initially agreed with Radical Republican views regarding Reconstruction, but later favored a moderate approach for civil rights enforcement for freedmen.
At the 1880 Republican National Convention, Senator-elect Garfield attended as campaign manager for Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman, and gave the presidential nomination speech for him. When neither Sherman nor his rivals – Ulysses S. Grant and James G. Blaine – could get enough votes to secure the nomination, delegates chose Garfield as a compromise on the 36th ballot. In the 1880 presidential election, Garfield conducted a low-key front porch campaign, and narrowly defeated Democrat Winfield Scott Hancock.
|Garfield as a brigadier general during the Civil War Credit: wikipedia|
Garfield's accomplishments as president included a resurgence of presidential authority against senatorial courtesy in executive appointments, energizing American naval power, and purging corruption in the Post Office, all during his extremely short time in office. Garfield made notable diplomatic and judiciary appointments, including a U.S. Supreme Court justice. He enhanced the powers of the presidency when he defied the powerful New York senator Roscoe Conkling by appointing William H. Robertson to the lucrative post of Collector of the Port of New York, starting a fracas that ended with Robertson's confirmation and Conkling's resignation from the Senate. Garfield advocated agricultural technology, an educated electorate, and civil rights for African Americans. He also proposed substantial civil service reform, eventually passed by Congress in 1883 and signed into law by his successor, Chester A. Arthur, as the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. With his term cut short by his death after only 200 days, and much of it spent in ill health trying to recover from the attack, Garfield is little-remembered other than for his assassination; historians often forgo listing him in rankings of U.S. presidents due to the short length of his presidency.
19th President of the United States March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
1822–1893 (Lived: 70 years)
Rutherford Birchard Hayes (October 4, 1822 – January 17, 1893) was the 19th President of the United States (1877–81). He became President at the end of the Reconstruction Era of the United States through a complex Compromise of 1877. As President he ended Army support for Republican state governments in the South, promoted civil service reform, and attempted to reconcile the divisions left over from the Civil War and Reconstruction.
|Rutherford B. Hayes (October 4, 1822—January 17, 1893), 19th President of the United States and 29th and 32nd Governor of Ohio Credit: wikipedia|
Hayes, an attorney in Ohio, was city solicitor of Cincinnati from 1858 to 1861. When the Civil War began, he left a fledgling political career to join the Union Army as an officer. Hayes was wounded five times, most seriously at the Battle of South Mountain. He earned a reputation for bravery in combat and was promoted to the rank of brevet major general. After the war, he served in the Congress from 1865 to 1867 as a Republican. Hayes left Congress to run for Governor of Ohio and was elected to two consecutive terms, from 1868 to 1872, and then to a third term, from 1876 to 1877.
In 1876, Hayes was elected president in one of the most contentious elections in national history. He lost the official popular vote to Democrat Samuel J. Tilden (due at least in part to Southern suppression of Republican votes, it is not known with certainty who won the actual popular vote) but he won an intensely disputed electoral college vote after a Congressional commission awarded him twenty contested electoral votes. The result was the Compromise of 1877, in which the Democrats acquiesced to Hayes's election and Hayes withdrew remaining U.S. troops protecting Republican office holders in the South.
|Hayes in Civil War uniform in 1861 Credit: wikipedia|
Hayes believed in meritocratic government, equal treatment without regard to race. He ordered federal troops to crush the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. He implemented modest civil service reforms that laid the groundwork for further reform in the 1880s and 1890s. He vetoed the Bland–Allison Act, which would have put silver money into circulation and raised prices, insisting that maintenance of the gold standard was essential to economic recovery. His policy toward Western Indians anticipated the assimilationist program of the Dawes Act of 1887.
Hayes kept his pledge not to run for re-election, retired to his home in Ohio, and became an advocate of social and educational reform. Biographer Ari Hoogenboom says his greatest achievement was to restore popular faith in the presidency and to reverse the deterioration of executive power that had set in after Abraham Lincoln's death. Although supporters have praised his commitment to civil service reform and defense of civil rights, Hayes is generally listed among the high-end of the bottom half in historians' rankings of U.S. presidents.
18th President of the United States March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
1822–1885 (Lived: 63 years)
Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was the 18th President of the United States (1869–77). Previously, as Commanding General of the United States Army (1864–69), Grant had worked closely with President Abraham Lincoln to lead the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy, in the American Civil War. As president, Grant implemented Congressional Reconstruction, often at odds with Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson. Twice elected president, Grant led the Republicans in their effort to remove the vestiges of Confederate nationalism and slavery, protect African-American citizenship, and supported unbridled industrial expansionism during the Gilded Age.
|The 18th President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant. Credit: wikipedia|
Grant graduated in 1843 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, then served in the Mexican–American War and initially retired in 1854. He struggled financially in civilian life. When the Civil War began in 1861, he rejoined the U.S. Army. In 1862, Grant took control of Kentucky and most of Tennessee, and led Union forces to victory in the Battle of Shiloh, earning a reputation as an aggressive commander. He incorporated displaced African American slaves into the Union war effort. In July 1863, after a series of coordinated battles, Grant defeated Confederate armies and seized Vicksburg, giving the Union control of the Mississippi River and dividing the Confederacy in two. After his victories in the Chattanooga Campaign, Lincoln promoted him to lieutenant-general and Commanding General of the United States Army in March 1864. Grant confronted Robert E. Lee in a series of bloody battles, trapping Lee's army in their defense of Richmond. Grant coordinated a series of devastating campaigns in other theaters, as well. In April 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, effectively ending the war. Historians have hailed Grant's military genius, and his strategies are featured in military history textbooks, but a minority contend that he won by brute force rather than superior strategy.
After the Civil War, Grant led the army's supervision of Reconstruction in the former Confederate states. Elected president in 1868 and reelected in 1872, he stabilized the nation during the turbulent Reconstruction period, prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan, and enforced civil rights and voting rights laws using the army and the Department of Justice. He used the army to build the Republican Party in the South, based on black voters, Northern newcomers ("carpetbaggers"), and native Southern white supporters ("scalawags"). After the disenfranchisement of some former Confederates, Republicans gained majorities, and African Americans were elected to Congress and high state offices. In his second term, the Republican coalitions in the South splintered and were defeated one by one as redeemers (conservative whites) regained control using coercion and violence. Grant's Indian peace policy initially reduced frontier violence but is best known for the Great Sioux War of 1876, wherein George Custer and his regiment were killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Grant responded to charges of corruption in executive offices more than any other 19th Century president. He appointed the first Civil Service Commission and signed legislation ending the corrupt moiety system.
In foreign policy, Grant sought to increase American trade and influence, while remaining at peace with the world. His administration successfully resolved the Alabama claims by the Treaty of Washington with Great Britain, ending wartime tensions. Grant avoided war with Spain over the Virginius Affair, but Congress rejected his attempted annexation of the Dominican Republic. Grant's administration implemented a gold standard and sought to strengthen the dollar. Corruption charges escalated during his second term, while his response to the Panic of 1873 proved ineffective nationally in halting the five-year industrial depression that produced high unemployment, low prices, low profits, and bankruptcies. Grant left office in 1877 and embarked on a two-year world tour which helped to establish the United States' presence abroad and captured the nation's attention.
In 1880, Grant was unsuccessful in obtaining a Republican presidential nomination for a third term. Facing severe investment reversals and dying of throat cancer, he completed his memoirs, which proved to be a major literary work and financial success. His death in 1885 prompted an outpouring in support of national unity. Historical assessment of Grant's legacy has varied considerably over the years. Early historical evaluations were negative about Grant's presidency, often focusing on the corruption charges against his associates. This trend began to change in the later 20th century. Scholars in general rank his presidency below the average, but modern research, in part focusing on civil rights, evaluates his administration more positively.
17th President of the United States April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
1808–1875 (Lived: 66 years)
April 15, 1865 – c. 1868
c. 1868 – March 4, 1869
Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) was the 17th President of the United States, serving from 1865 to 1869. Johnson became president as he was vice president at the time of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. A Democrat who ran with Lincoln on the National Union ticket, Johnson came to office as the Civil War concluded.
|President Andrew Johnson Credit: wikipedia|
The new president favored quick restoration of the seceded states to the Union. His plans did not give protection to the former slaves, and he came into conflict with the Republican-dominated Congress, culminating in his impeachment by the House of Representatives. The first American president to be impeached, he was acquitted in the Senate by one vote.
Johnson was born in poverty in Raleigh, North Carolina. Apprenticed as a tailor, he worked in several frontier towns before settling in Greeneville, Tennessee. He served as alderman and mayor there before being elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1835. After brief service in the Tennessee Senate, Johnson was elected to the federal House of Representatives in 1843, where he served five two-year terms. He became Governor of Tennessee for four years, and was elected by the legislature to the Senate in 1857. In his congressional service, he sought passage of the Homestead Bill, which was enacted soon after he left his Senate seat in 1862.
As Southern slave states, including Tennessee, seceded to form the Confederate States of America, Johnson remained firmly with the Union. He was the only sitting senator from a Confederate state who did not resign his seat upon learning of his state's secession. In 1862, Lincoln appointed him as military governor of Tennessee after most of it had been retaken. In 1864, Johnson, as a War Democrat and Southern Unionist, was a logical choice as running mate for Lincoln, who wished to send a message of national unity in his re-election campaign; their ticket easily won. When Johnson was sworn in as vice president in March 1865, he gave a rambling speech. He later secluded himself to avoid public ridicule. Six weeks later, the assassination of Lincoln made him president.
Johnson implemented his own form of Presidential Reconstruction – a series of proclamations directing the seceded states to hold conventions and elections to re-form their civil governments. When Southern states returned many of their old leaders, and passed Black Codes to deprive the freedmen of many civil liberties, Congressional Republicans refused to seat legislators from those states and advanced legislation to overrule the Southern actions. Johnson vetoed their bills, and Congressional Republicans overrode him, setting a pattern for the remainder of his presidency. Johnson opposed the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave citizenship to former slaves. In 1866, Johnson went on an unprecedented national tour promoting his executive policies, seeking to destroy his Republican opponents. As the conflict between the branches of government grew, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, restricting Johnson's ability to fire Cabinet officials. When he persisted in trying to dismiss Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, he was impeached by the House of Representatives, and narrowly avoided conviction in the Senate and removal from office. Returning to Tennessee after his presidency, Johnson sought political vindication, and gained it in his eyes when he was elected to the Senate again in 1875 (the only former president to serve there), just months before his death. Many historians rank Johnson among the worst American presidents for his strong opposition to federally guaranteed rights for African Americans, while some historians admire Johnson for his strict constitutionalism.
16th President of the United States March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
1809–1865 (Lived: 56 years)
Republican (National Union)
Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and perhaps its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy.
|Lincoln in 1863 at the age of 54 Credit: wikipedia|
Born in Hodgenville, Kentucky, Lincoln grew up on the western frontier in Kentucky and Indiana. Largely self-educated, he became a lawyer in Illinois, a Whig Party leader, and was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, in which he served for eight years. Elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1846, Lincoln promoted rapid modernization of the economy through banks, tariffs, and railroads. Because he had originally agreed not to run for a second term in Congress, and because his opposition to the Mexican–American War was unpopular among Illinois voters, Lincoln returned to Springfield and resumed his successful law practice. Reentering politics in 1854, he became a leader in building the new Republican Party, which had a statewide majority in Illinois. In 1858, while taking part in a series of highly publicized debates with his opponent and rival, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln spoke out against the expansion of slavery, but lost the U.S. Senate race to Douglas.
In 1860, Lincoln secured the Republican Party presidential nomination as a moderate from a swing state. Though he gained very little support in the slaveholding states of the South, he swept the North and was elected president in 1860. Lincoln's victory prompted seven southern slave states to form the Confederate States of America before he moved into the White House - no compromise or reconciliation was found regarding slavery and secession. Subsequently, on April 12, 1861, a Confederate attack on Fort Sumter inspired the North to enthusiastically rally behind the Union. As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican Party, Lincoln confronted Radical Republicans, who demanded harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats, who called for more compromise, anti-war Democrats (called Copperheads), who despised him, and irreconcilable secessionists, who plotted his assassination. Politically, Lincoln fought back by pitting his opponents against each other, by carefully planned political patronage, and by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory. His Gettysburg Address became an iconic endorsement of the principles of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy.
|Lincoln in his late 30s as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Photo taken by one of Lincoln's law students around 1846. Credit: wikipedia|
Lincoln initially concentrated on the military and political dimensions of the war. His primary goal was to reunite the nation. He suspended habeas corpus, leading to the controversial ex parte Merryman decision, and he averted potential British intervention in the war by defusing the Trent Affair in late 1861. Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including his most successful general, Ulysses S. Grant. He also made major decisions on Union war strategy, including a naval blockade that shut down the South's normal trade, moves to take control of Kentucky and Tennessee, and using gunboats to gain control of the southern river system. Lincoln tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond; each time a general failed, Lincoln substituted another, until finally Grant succeeded. As the war progressed, his complex moves toward ending slavery included the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863; Lincoln used the U.S. Army to protect escaped slaves, encouraged the border states to outlaw slavery, and pushed through Congress the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which permanently outlawed slavery.
|The first photographic image of the new president Credit: wikipedia|
An exceptionally astute politician deeply involved with power issues in each state, Lincoln reached out to the War Democrats and managed his own re-election campaign in the 1864 presidential election. Anticipating the war's conclusion, Lincoln pushed a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to reunite the nation speedily through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. On April 14, 1865, five days after the surrender of Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer.
Lincoln has been consistently ranked both by scholars and the public as among the three greatest U.S. presidents.
15th President of the United States March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1861
1791–1868 (Lived: 77 years)
James Buchanan, Jr. ( April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868) was the 15th President of the United States (1857–61), serving immediately prior to the American Civil War. He represented Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives and later the Senate, then served as Minister to Russia under President Andrew Jackson. He was named Secretary of State under President James K. Polk, and is the last former Secretary of State to serve as President of the United States. After Buchanan turned down an offer to sit on the Supreme Court, President Franklin Pierce appointed him Ambassador to the United Kingdom, in which capacity he helped draft the Ostend Manifesto.
|James Buchanan (cropped from the original image) Credit: wikipedia|
Buchanan was nominated by the Democratic Party in the 1856 presidential election, on a ticket with former Kentucky Representative John C. Breckinridge, defeating both the incumbent President Pierce and Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas. Throughout most of Pierce's presidency, Buchanan had been stationed in London as minister to the Court of St James's and so was not involved in the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which further divided the country along sectional lines. His subsequent election victory took place in a three-man race against Republican John C. Frémont and Know-Nothing Millard Fillmore. As President, Buchanan allied with the South in attempting to gain the admission of Kansas to the Union as a slave state under the Lecompton Constitution. In the process, he alienated both Republican abolitionists and Northern Democrats, most of whom supported the principle of popular sovereignty in determining a new state's slaveholding status.
He was often called a "doughface", a Northerner with Southern sympathies, and he fought with Stephen Douglas, the leader of the popular sovereignty faction, for control of the Democratic Party. Buchanan's efforts to maintain peace between the North and the South alienated both sides. Buchanan indicated in his 1857 inaugural address that he would not seek a second term; he kept his word, and supported Vice President John C. Breckinridge in 1860. In a four-way contest, Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln was declared the winner, on a platform of keeping slavery out of all Western territories. In response, seven Southern states declared their secession from the Union, eventually leading to the American Civil War. Buchanan's view was that secession was illegal, but that going to war to stop it was also illegal, and so didn't confront the new polity militarily. Buchanan, an attorney, was noted for his mantra, "I acknowledge no master but the law."
By the time he left office, popular opinion was against him and the Democratic Party had split. Despite failing to stop secession, Buchanan supported the United States during the Civil War. Shortly after the Union victory, he published his memoirs, Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of Rebellion, in 1866. He died in 1868 at age 77.
|Inauguration of James Buchanan, March 4, 1857, from a photograph by John Wood: Buchanan's inauguration was the first one to be recorded in photographs. Credit: wikipedia|
Buchanan had once aspired to be a president who would rank in history with George Washington. However, his inability to identify a ground for peace or address the sharply divided pro-slavery and anti-slavery partisans with a unifying principle on the brink of the Civil War has led to his consistent ranking by historians as one of the worst presidents in American history. Historians who participated in a 2006 survey voted his failure to deal with secession the worst presidential mistake ever made.
He is the only president from Pennsylvania and the only president to remain a lifelong bachelor. He was the last president born in the 18th century.
14th President of the United States March 4, 1853 – March 4, 1857
Franklin Pierce (November 23, 1804 – October 8, 1869) was the 14th President of the United States (1853–57). Pierce was a northern Democrat who saw the abolitionist movement as a fundamental threat to the unity of the nation. His polarizing actions in championing and signing the Kansas–Nebraska Act and enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act alienated anti-slavery groups while failing to stem intersectional conflict, setting the stage for Southern secession and the US Civil War. Historians and other scholars generally rank Pierce as among the worst of US Presidents.
|Portrait of Franklin Pierce by Mathew Brady Credit: wikipedia|
Born in New Hampshire, Pierce served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate until he resigned from the latter in 1842. His private law practice in his home state was a success; he was appointed U.S. Attorney for his state in 1845. Pierce took part in the Mexican–American War as a brigadier general in the Army. Seen by Democrats as a compromise candidate uniting northern and southern interests, he was nominated as the party's candidate for president on the 49th ballot at the 1852 Democratic National Convention. In the 1852 presidential election, Pierce and his running mate William R. King easily defeated the Whig Party ticket of Winfield Scott and William A. Graham.
While Pierce was popular and outgoing, his family life was a grim affair, with his wife Jane suffering from illness and depression for much of her life. All of their children died young, their last son being gruesomely killed in a train accident while the family was traveling shortly before Pierce's inauguration. As president, Pierce simultaneously attempted to enforce neutral standards for civil service while also satisfying the diverse elements of the Democratic Party with patronage, an effort which largely failed and turned many in his party against him. Pierce was a Young America expansionist who signed the Gadsden Purchase of land from Mexico and led a failed attempt to acquire Cuba from Spain. He signed trade treaties with Britain and Japan, while his Cabinet reformed their departments and improved accountability, but these successes were overshadowed by political strife during his presidency.
|Pierce's brief term as a general in the Mexican–American War boosted his public image Credit: wikipedia|
His popularity in the Northern states declined sharply after he supported the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which nullified the Missouri Compromise, while many whites in the South continued to support him. Passage of the act led to violent conflict over the expansion of slavery in the American West. Pierce's administration was further damaged when several of his diplomats issued the Ostend Manifesto, calling for the annexation of Cuba, a document which was roundly criticized. Although Pierce fully expected to be renominated by the Democrats in the 1856 presidential election, he was abandoned by his party and his bid failed. His reputation in the North suffered further during the Civil War as he became a vocal critic of President Abraham Lincoln. Pierce, who had been a heavy drinker for much of his life, died of severe cirrhosis of the liver in 1869.
13th President of the United States July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
1800–1874 (Lived: 74 years)
Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874) was the 13th President of the United States (1850–53), the last to be a member of the Whig Party while in the White House. A former congressman from New York, Fillmore was elected the nation's 12th Vice President in 1848, and was elevated to the presidency by the death of Zachary Taylor. He was instrumental in getting the Compromise of 1850 passed, a bargain that led to a brief truce in the battle over slavery. He failed to win the Whig nomination for president in 1852; he gained the endorsement of the nativist Know Nothing Party four years later, and finished third in that election.
|Millard Fillmore (13th president of the United States). Image by Mathew B. Brady circa 1855-1865, and forms party of the Library of Congress Brady-Handy photograph collection. Credit: wikipedia|
Fillmore was born into poverty in the Finger Lakes area of New York state; his parents were tenant farmers during his formative years. He rose from poverty through study, and became a lawyer though he had little formal schooling. He became prominent in the Buffalo area as an attorney and politician, elected to the New York Assembly in 1828, and the U.S. House of Representatives in 1832. Initially, he belonged to the Anti-Masonic Party, but became a Whig as the party formed in the mid-1830s; he was a rival for state party leadership with editor Thurlow Weed and Weed's protégé, William H. Seward. Through his career, Fillmore decried slavery as an evil, but one beyond the powers of the federal government, whereas Seward was not only openly hostile to slavery, he argued that the federal government had a role to play in ending it. Fillmore was an unsuccessful candidate for Speaker of the House when the Whigs took control of the chamber in 1841, but was made Ways and Means Committee chairman. Defeated in bids for the Whig nomination for vice president in 1844, and for New York governor the same year, Fillmore was elected Comptroller of New York in 1847, the first to hold that post by direct election.
|Millard Fillmore Credit: wikipedia|
Fillmore received the Whig vice presidential nomination in 1848 as Taylor's running mate, and the two were elected. He was largely ignored by Taylor, including the dispensing of patronage in New York, on which Taylor consulted Weed and Seward. As vice president, Fillmore presided over angry debates in the Senate as Congress decided whether to allow slavery in the Mexican Cession. Fillmore supported Henry Clay's bill (the basis of the 1850 Compromise) though Taylor did not. After President Taylor died in July 1850, Fillmore dismissed the cabinet and changed the administration's policy. The new president exerted pressure to gain the passage of the Compromise, which gave legislative victories to both North and South, and which was enacted by September. The Fugitive Slave Act, expediting the return of escaped slaves to those who claimed ownership, was a controversial part of the Compromise, and Fillmore felt himself duty-bound to enforce it, though it damaged his popularity and also the Whig Party, which was torn North from South. In foreign policy, Fillmore supported U.S. Navy expeditions to open trade in Japan, opposed French designs on Hawaii, and was embarrassed by Narciso López's filibuster expeditions to Cuba. He sought election to a full term in 1852, but was passed over by the Whigs in favor of Winfield Scott.
As the Whig Party broke up after Fillmore's presidency, many of Fillmore's conservative wing joined the Know Nothings, forming the American Party. In his 1856 candidacy as the that party's nominee, Fillmore had little to say about immigration, instead focusing on the preservation of the Union, and won only Maryland. In his retirement, Fillmore was active in many civic endeavors. He helped to found the University of Buffalo, serving as its first chancellor. During the American Civil War, Fillmore denounced secession and agreed that the Union must be maintained by force if necessary, but was critical of the war policies of Abraham Lincoln. After peace was restored, he supported the Reconstruction policies of President Andrew Johnson. Obscure today, Fillmore has been praised by some for his foreign policy, but he is criticized by others for his enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act and for his association with the Know Nothings.
12th President of the United States March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850
1784–1850 (Lived: 65 years)
Zachary Taylor (November 24, 1784 – July 9, 1850) was the 12th President of the United States, serving from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. Before his presidency, Taylor was a career officer in the United States Army, rising to the rank of major general.
|Half-Plate Daguerreotype of Zachary Taylor, cropped 8x10 to remove framing. Credit: wikipedia|
Taylor's status as a national hero as a result of his victories in the Mexican-American War won him election to the White House despite his vague political beliefs. His top priority as president was preserving the Union, but he died sixteen months into his term, before making any progress on the status of slavery, which had been inflaming tensions in Congress. He remains the only President to come from Louisiana.
Taylor was born into a prominent family of planters who migrated westward from Virginia to Kentucky in his youth. He was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army in 1808 and made a name for himself as a captain in the War of 1812. He climbed the ranks establishing military forts along the Mississippi River and entered the Black Hawk War as a colonel in 1832. His success in the Second Seminole War attracted national attention and earned him the nickname "Old Rough and Ready".
|General Zachary Taylor rides his horse at Palo Alto Battle – May 8, 1846 Credit: wikipedia|
In 1845, as the annexation of Texas was underway, President James K. Polk dispatched Taylor to the Rio Grande area in anticipation of a potential battle with Mexico over the disputed Texas–Mexico border. The Mexican–American War broke out in April 1846. In May, Taylor defeated Mexican troops commanded by General Mariano Arista at the Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, and managed to drive his troops out of Texas. Taylor subsequently led his troops into Mexico, where they once again defeated Mexican troops commanded by Pedro de Ampudia at the Battle of Monterrey in September. Taylor subsequently defied orders by moving his troops further south, where, despite being severely outnumbered, he dealt a crushing blow to Mexican forces under Antonio López de Santa Anna in February 1847 at the Battle of Buena Vista. After this, most of Taylor's troops were transferred to the command of Major General Winfield Scott, but Taylor's popularity remained significant.
The Whig Party convinced the reluctant Taylor to lead their ticket, despite his unclear platform and lack of interest in politics. He won the election alongside New York politician Millard Fillmore, defeating Democratic candidates Lewis Cass and William Orlando Butler, as well as a third party effort led by former President Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams, Sr. of the Free Soil Party. As president, Taylor kept his distance from Congress and his cabinet, even as partisan tensions threatened to divide the Union. Debate over the slave status of the large territories claimed in the war led to threats of secession from Southerners.
Despite being a Southerner and a slaveholder himself, Taylor did not push for the expansion of slavery. To avoid the question, he urged settlers in New Mexico and California to bypass the territorial stage and draft constitutions for statehood, setting the stage for the Compromise of 1850. Taylor died suddenly of a stomach-related illness in July 1850, so had little impact on the sectional divide that led to the American Civil War a decade later.
11th President of the United States March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
(Lived: 53 years
James Knox Polk (November 2, 1795 – June 15, 1849) was the 11th President of the United States (1845–49). Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 13th Speaker of the House of Representatives (1835–39)—the only president to have served as House Speaker—and the first of two (the other being Andrew Johnson) to serve as Governor of Tennessee (1839–41). Polk was the surprise (dark horse) candidate for president in 1844, defeating Henry Clay of the rival Whig Party by promising to annex the Republic of Texas. Polk was a leader of Jacksonian Democracy during the Second Party System.
|United States president James Knox Polk, three-quarter length portrait, three-quarters to the right, seated. Daguerrotype Credit: wikipedia|
Polk is often considered the last strong pre–Civil War president, having met during his four years in office every major domestic and foreign policy goal set during his campaign and the transition to his administration. When Mexico rejected the U.S. annexation of Texas, Polk achieved a sweeping victory in the Mexican–American War, which resulted in the cession by Mexico of nearly the whole of what is now the American Southwest. He ensured a substantial reduction of tariff rates by replacing the "Black Tariff" with the Walker tariff of 1846, which pleased the less-industrialized states of his native South by rendering less expensive both imported and, through competition, domestic goods. He threatened war with the United Kingdom over the issue of which nation owned the Oregon Country, eventually reaching a settlement in which the British were made to sell the portion that became the Oregon Territory. Additionally, he built an independent treasury system that lasted until 1913, oversaw the opening of the U.S. Naval Academy and of the Smithsonian Institution, the groundbreaking for the Washington Monument, and the issuance of the first United States postage stamp.
|James K. Polk and Sarah Childress Polk. Credit: wikipedia|
True to his campaign pledge to serve only one term as President, Polk left office and returned to Tennessee in March 1849. He died of cholera three months later.
Scholars have ranked him favorably on lists of greatest presidents for his ability to promote, obtain support for, and achieve all of the major items on his presidential agenda. However, he has also been criticized for leading the country into war against Mexico and for exacerbating sectional divides. Polk has been called the "least known consequential president"of the United States.
10th President of the United States March April 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845
1790–1862 (Lived: 71 years)
April 4, 1841 – September 13, 1841
September 13, 1841 – March 4, 1845
John Tyler (March 29, 1790 – January 18, 1862) was the tenth President of the United States (1841–45). He was also, briefly, the tenth Vice President (1841), elected to that office on the 1840 Whig ticket with William Henry Harrison. Tyler became president after Harrison's death in April 1841, only a month after the start of the new administration.
|Restored and cropped daguerreotype of John Tyler, tenth president of the United States. Library of Congress collection. Credit: wikipedia|
Known to that point as a supporter of states' rights, which endeared him to his fellow Virginians, his actions as president showed that he was willing to back nationalist policies as long as they did not infringe on the powers of the states. Still, the circumstances of his unexpected rise to the presidency, and its threat to the presidential ambitions of Henry Clay and other politicians, left him estranged from both major parties. A firm believer in manifest destiny, President Tyler sought to strengthen and preserve the Union through territorial expansion, most notably the annexation of the independent Republic of Texas in his last days in office.
Tyler, born to an eminent Virginia family, came to national prominence at a time of political upheaval. In the 1820s the nation's only political party, the Democratic-Republicans, split into factions. Though initially a Democrat, his opposition to Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren led him to ally with the Whig Party. Tyler served as a Virginia state legislator, governor, U.S. representative, and U.S. senator before his election as vice president in the presidential election of 1840. He was put on the ticket to attract states' rights Southerners to what was then a Whig coalition to defeat Van Buren's re-election bid.
Harrison's death made Tyler the first vice president to succeed to the presidency without being elected to the office. Because of the short duration of Harrison's one-month term, Tyler served longer than any president in U.S. history who was never elected to the office. To forestall constitutional uncertainty, Tyler immediately took the oath of office, moved into the White House, and assumed full presidential powers, a precedent that would govern future successions and eventually become codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment. A strict constructionist, Tyler found much of the Whig platform unconstitutional, and vetoed several of his party's bills. Believing that the president should set policy instead of deferring to Congress, he attempted to bypass the Whig establishment, most notably Kentucky Senator Henry Clay. Most of Tyler's Cabinet resigned soon into his term, and the Whigs, dubbing him His Accidency, expelled him from the party. Though Tyler was not the first president to veto bills, he was the first to see his veto overridden by Congress. Although he faced a stalemate on domestic policy, he had several foreign-policy achievements, including the Webster–Ashburton Treaty with Britain and the Treaty of Wanghia with Qing China.
President Tyler dedicated his last two years in office to the annexation of Texas. He initially sought election to a full term as president, but after failing to gain the support of either Whigs or Democrats, he withdrew. In the last days of his term, Congress passed the resolution authorizing the Texas annexation, which was carried out by Tyler's successor, James K. Polk. When the American Civil War began in 1861, Tyler sided with the Confederate government, and won election to the Confederate House of Representatives shortly before his death. Although some have praised Tyler's political resolve, his presidency is generally held in low esteem by historians; today he is considered an obscure president, with little presence in the American cultural memory.
9th President of the United States March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841 (Died in office)
1773–1841 (Lived: 68 years)
William Henry Harrison Sr. (February 9, 1773 – April 4, 1841) was the ninth President of the United States (1841), an American military officer, and the last president born as a British subject. He was 68 years, 23 days old at the time of his inauguration.
|Daguerreotype of William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States. Credit: wikipedia|
He died of complications from pneumonia 31 days into his term, serving the shortest tenure in United States presidential history. He was the first president to die in office, and his death sparked a brief constitutional crisis, but its resolution left unsettled many questions following the presidential line of succession in regard to the Constitution until the passage of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1967. He was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, who served as the 23rd President from 1889 to 1893.
Before election as president, Harrison served as the first delegate from the Northwest Territory, as Governor of Indiana Territory. He gained national fame for leading U.S. forces against Native Americans at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811,where he earned the nickname "Tippecanoe" (or "Old Tippecanoe"). As a general officer in the subsequent War of 1812, his most notable action was in the Battle of the Thames in 1813. This battle resulted in the death of Tecumseh and the dissolution of the Indian coalition which he led.
After the war, Harrison moved to Ohio, where he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. In 1824, the state legislature elected him to the United States Senate. He served a truncated term after being appointed as Minister Plenipotentiary to Gran Colombia in May 1828. In Santa Fe de Bogotá, he spoke with president Simón Bolívar, urging his nation to adopt American-style democracy.
Returning to his farm in Ohio, Harrison lived in relative retirement until he was nominated for the presidency as one of several Whig Party candidates in the election of 1836. He received more votes than any other Whig, but was defeated by Democrat Martin Van Buren. He retired again to his farm.
Van Buren soon became a major target of criticism from the Whigs surrounding economic difficulties following the Panic of 1837. Seeking to run a non-controversial and less ideological war hero who could defeat Van Buren based on popularity, a unified Whig Party nominated Harrison over party founder Henry Clay and fellow general Winfield Scott. John Tyler of Virginia was selected as his running mate. Harrison and Tyler defeated Van Buren in the 1840 election. However, Harrison died of pneumonia in April 1841, a month after taking office. Tyler then assumed all of the powers and duties of the president, setting a major precedent.
8th President of the United States March 4, 1837 – March 4, 1841
1782–1862 (Lived: 79 years)
Martin Van Buren (Dutch: Maarten van Buren About this sound pronunciation (help·info); December 5, 1782 – July 24, 1862) was an American politician who served a single term as the eighth President of the United States (1837–41). A member of the Democratic Party, he served in a number of senior roles, including eighth Vice President (1833–37) and tenth Secretary of State (1829–31), both under Andrew Jackson. Van Buren's inability as president to deal with the deep economic depression following the Panic of 1837 and with the surging Whig Party led to his defeat in the 1840 election.
|Imperial print of Martin Van Buren Salted paper print from glass negative 48.3 × 39.7 cm (19 × 15.6 in) Provenance from W.H. Lowdermilk & Co., Rare Books, 1418 F Street, Washington, DC Credit: wikipedia|
Of Dutch ancestry, Van Buren learned early to interact with people from multiple ethnic, income, and societal groups, which he used to his advantage as a political organizer. A meticulous dresser, he could mingle in upper class society as well as in saloon environments like the tavern his father ran. A delegate to a political convention at age 18, he quickly moved from local to state politics, gaining fame both as a political organizer and an accomplished lawyer. Elected to the Senate by the New York State Legislature in 1821, Van Buren supported William H. Crawford for president in the 1824 election, but by 1828 had come to support General Andrew Jackson. Van Buren was a major supporter and organizer for Jackson in the 1828 election, and ran for Governor of New York in the hope of using his personal popularity to boost Jackson's campaign. Jackson and Van Buren were elected, and after serving as governor for two months, Van Buren resigned to become Jackson's Secretary of State.
|Portrait of Martin Van Buren Credit: wikipedia|
During Jackson's eight years as president, Van Buren was a key advisor, and built the organizational structure for the coalescing Democratic Party, particularly in New York. In 1831, following his resignation as Secretary of State, which aided Jackson in resolving the Petticoat affair, Jackson gave Van Buren a recess appointment as American minister to Britain, but Van Buren's nomination was rejected by the Senate, cutting short his service in London. He was successful in the jockeying to become Jackson's picked successor, and was elected vice president in 1832. Van Buren defeated several Whig opponents in 1836, and was elected president.
As president, Van Buren was blamed for the depression of 1837; hostile newspapers called him "Martin Van Ruin". He attempted to cure the economic problems by keeping control of federal funds in an independent treasury—rather than in state banks—but Congress would not approve of this until 1840. In foreign affairs, he denied the application of Texas for admission to the Union, unwilling to upset the balance of free and slave states in the Missouri Compromise, and hoping to avoid war with Mexico over Texas annexation by purchasing the territory from Mexico's government. Additionally, relations with Britain and its colonies in Canada proved to be strained from the bloodless Aroostook War and the Caroline Affair.
In the 1840 election, Van Buren was voted out of office, losing to Whig candidate William Henry Harrison. Van Buren was the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination in 1844, but lost to James K. Polk, who went on to win the election. In the 1848 election Van Buren ran unsuccessfully as the candidate of the anti-slavery Free Soil Party. He returned to the Democratic fold to support Franklin Pierce (1852), James Buchanan (1856), and Stephen A. Douglas (1860) for the presidency, but his increasingly abolitionist views and support for the Union led him to support Abraham Lincoln's policies after the start of the American Civil War.
Van Buren's health began to fail in 1861, and he died in July 1862 at the age of seventy-nine. Although he served in many high offices, his most lasting achievement was as a political organizer who built the modern Democratic Party and guided it to dominance in the new Second Party System.
7th President of the United States March 4, 1829 – March 4, 1837
Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) was an American soldier and statesman who served as the seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837 and was the founder of the Democratic Party. He was born somewhere near the then-unmarked border between North and South Carolina, into a recently immigrated Scots-Irish farming family of relatively modest means.
|Portrait of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States Credit: wikipedia|
During the American Revolutionary War, Jackson, whose family supported the revolutionary cause, acted as a courier. At age 13, he was captured and mistreated by the British army. He moved to new lands in Tennessee becoming a lawyer, planter and militia commander. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate but was not prominent there.
In 1801, Jackson was appointed colonel in the Tennessee militia, which became his political as well as military base. He owned hundreds of slaves who worked on the Hermitage plantation. In 1806, he killed a man in a duel over a matter of honor regarding his wife Rachel. He gained national fame in the War of 1812, where he won a decisive victory over the main British invasion army at the Battle of New Orleans in the final days of the war. In response to conflict with the Seminole Indians in Spanish Florida, he invaded the territory in 1818. This led directly to the First Seminole War and the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, which formally transferred Florida from Spain to the United States.
Jackson ran for president in 1824. Although he got a plurality in both electoral and popular vote against three major candidates, Jackson failed to get a majority and lost in the House of Representatives to John Quincy Adams. Jackson claimed that he lost by a "corrupt bargain" between Adams and Speaker of the House Henry Clay, who was also a candidate, to give Clay the office of Secretary of State in exchange for Adams winning the presidency. Jackson's supporters then founded what became the Democratic Party. He ran again for president in 1828 against Adams. Building on his base in the West[clarification needed] and with new support from Virginia and New York, he won by a landslide. He blamed the death of his wife, Rachel, which occurred just after the election, on the Adams campaigners, who called her a "bigamist".
|The Battle of New Orleans. General Andrew Jackson stands on the parapet of his makeshift defenses as his troops repulse attacking Highlanders, by painter Edward Percy Moran in 1910. Credit: wikipedia|
As president, Jackson faced a threat of secession by South Carolina over the "Tariff of Abominations", which Congress had enacted under Adams. In contrast to several of his immediate successors, he denied the right of a state to secede from the union or to nullify federal law. The Nullification Crisis was defused when the tariff was amended and Jackson threatened the use of military force if South Carolina attempted to secede.
In anticipation of the 1832 election, Congress, led by Clay, attempted to reauthorize the Second Bank of the United States four years before the expiration of its charter. In keeping with his platform of economic decentralization, Jackson vetoed the renewal of its charter, thereby seemingly putting his chances for re-election in jeopardy. However, by portraying himself as the defender of the common person against wealthy bankers, he was able to defeat Clay in the election that year. He thoroughly dismantled the bank by the time its charter expired in 1836. His struggles with Congress were personified in his personal rivalry with Clay, whom Jackson deeply disliked and who led the opposition of the emerging Whig Party. Jackson's presidency marked the beginning of the ascendancy of the "spoils system" in American politics. He is also known for having signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, which forcibly relocated a number of Native American tribes in the South to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).
Jackson supported his vice president Martin Van Buren's successful presidential campaign in 1836. He worked to bolster the Democratic Party and helped his friend James K. Polk win the 1844 presidential election.
6th President of the United States March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
1767–1848 (Lived: 80 years)
John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848) was an American statesman who served as the sixth President of the United States from 1825 to 1829. He also served as a diplomat, a Senator and member of the House of Representatives. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of President John Adams and Abigail Adams.
|Copy of portrait daguerreotype of John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States. Restored to remove aging and damage Credit: wikipedia|
Adams is best known as a diplomat who shaped U.S. foreign policy in line with his ardently nationalist commitment to U.S. republican values. More recently, he has been portrayed as the exemplar and moral leader in an era of modernization. During Adams' lifetime, technological innovations and new means of communication spread messages of religious revival, social reform, and party politics. Goods, money, and people traveled more rapidly and efficiently than ever before.
As a diplomat, Adams played an important role in negotiating key treaties, most notably the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. As Secretary of State, he negotiated with Britain over the United States' northern border with Canada, negotiated with Spain the annexation of Florida, and drafted the Monroe Doctrine. Historians agree that he was one of the greatest diplomats and secretaries of state in American history. In his biography, Samuel Flagg Bemis argues that Adams was able to "gather together, formulate, and practice the fundamentals of American foreign-policy – self-determination, independence, noncolonization, nonintervention, nonentanglement in European politics, Freedom of the Seas, and freedom of commerce."
Adams was elected president in a close and controversial four-way contest in 1824. As president he sought to modernize the American economy and promote education. Adams enacted a part of his agenda and paid off much of the national debt. However he was stymied time and again by a Congress controlled by his enemies, and his lack of patronage networks helped politicians eager to undercut him. He lost his 1828 bid for re-election to Andrew Jackson.
|John Quincy Adams by Gilbert Stuart, 1818 Credit: wikipedia|
After leaving office, he was elected as U.S. Representative from Massachusetts in 1830, serving for the last 17 years of his life with far greater acclaim than he had achieved as president. Animated by his growing revulsion against slavery,Adams became a leading opponent of the Slave Power. He predicted that if a civil war were to break out, the president could abolish slavery by using his war powers. Adams also predicted the Union's dissolution over the slavery issue, but said that if the South became independent there would be a series of bloody slave revolts.
5th President of the United States March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
1758–1831 (Lived: 73 years)
James Monroe (April 28, 1758 – July 4, 1831) was an American statesman who served as the fifth President of the United States from 1817 to 1825. Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States and the last president from the Virginian dynasty and the Republican Generation. Born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Monroe was of the planter class and fought in the American Revolutionary War.
|James Monroe White House portrait 1819 Credit: wikipedia|
He was wounded in the Battle of Trenton with a musket ball to his shoulder. After studying law under Thomas Jefferson from 1780 to 1783, he served as a delegate in the Continental Congress. As an anti-federalist delegate to the Virginia convention that considered ratification of the United States Constitution, Monroe opposed ratification, claiming it gave too much power to the central government. He took an active part in the new government, and in 1790 he was elected to the Senate of the first United States Congress, where he joined the Democratic-Republicans. He gained experience as an executive as the Governor of Virginia and rose to national prominence as a diplomat in France, when he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. During the War of 1812, Monroe held the critical roles of Secretary of State and the Secretary of War under President James Madison.
|John Trumbull painted The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776 showing Captain William Washington, with wounded hand, on the right and Lt. Monroe, severely wounded and helped by Dr. Riker, left of center Credit: wikipedia|
Facing little opposition from the fractured Federalist Party, Monroe was easily elected president in 1816, winning over 80 percent of the electoral vote and becoming the last president during the First Party System era of American politics. As president, he bought Florida from Spain and sought to ease partisan tensions, embarking on a tour of the country that was generally well received. With the ratification of the Treaty of 1818, under the successful diplomacy of his Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, the United States extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific, giving America harbor and fishing rights in the Pacific Northwest. The United States and Britain jointly occupied the Oregon Country. In addition to the acquisition of Florida, the landmark Treaty of 1819 secured the border of the United States along the 42nd Parallel to the Pacific Ocean and represented America's first determined attempt at creating an "American global empire".As nationalism surged, partisan fury subsided and the "Era of Good Feelings" ensued until the Panic of 1819 struck and dispute over the admission of Missouri embroiled the country in 1820. Nonetheless, Monroe won near-unanimous reelection.
Monroe supported the founding of colonies in Africa for freed slaves that would eventually form the nation of Liberia, whose capital, Monrovia, is named in his honor. In 1823, he announced the United States' opposition to any European intervention in the recently independent countries of the Americas with the Monroe Doctrine, which became a landmark in American foreign policy. His presidency concluded the first period of American presidential history before the beginning of Jacksonian democracy and the Second Party System era. Following his retirement in 1825, Monroe was plagued by financial difficulties. He died in New York City on July 4, 1831.
4th President of the United States March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817
1751–1836 (Lived: 85 years)
James Madison, Jr., (March 16 March 5, 1751 – June 28, 1836) was an American statesman and Founding Father who served as the fourth President of the United States from 1809 to 1817. He is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Portrait of James Madison, one of the authors of the Federalist Papers, and the fourth President of the United States Medium/Support: oil on canvas Measurements: 26 x 22 3/16 in (66 x 56.4 cm) Scholar's Notes: "The portrait [of James Madison] was commissioned . . . by James Monroe . . . . Cameo-like, with firm planes and carefully controlled range of values, it does not rely on deep shadow or strong contrast for its sculptural effect, but works mostly in light tones. The face, despite its impassivity, reveals the toll exacted by the War of 1812 . . . . It is set above a high-collared black coat between a freely painted cravat and the simple powdered hairstyle favored by Madison . . . ." Source of Scholar's Notes: Kloss, William, et al. Art in the White House: A Nation's Pride. Washington, D.C.: The White House Historical Association, 2008.
Madison inherited his plantation Montpelier in Virginia and owned hundreds of slaves during his lifetime. He served as both a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and as a member of the Continental Congress prior to the Constitutional Convention. After the Convention, he became one of the leaders in the movement to ratify the Constitution, both in Virginia and nationally. His collaboration with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay produced The Federalist Papers, among the most important treatises in support of the Constitution. Madison's political views changed throughout his life. During deliberations on the Constitution, he favored a strong national government, but later preferred stronger state governments, before settling between the two extremes later in his life.
In 1789, Madison became a leader in the new House of Representatives, drafting many basic laws. He is noted for drafting the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and thus is known also as the "Father of the Bill of Rights."He worked closely with President George Washington to organize the new federal government. Breaking with Hamilton and the Federalist Party in 1791, he and Thomas Jefferson organized the Democratic-Republican Party. In response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, Jefferson and Madison drafted the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, arguing that states can nullify unconstitutional laws.
|Madison at Princeton Univ., portrait by James Sharples Credit: wikipedia|
As Jefferson's Secretary of State (1801–1809), Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the nation's size. Madison succeeded Jefferson as president in 1809, was re-elected in 1813, and presided over renewed prosperity for several years. After the failure of diplomatic protests and a trade embargo against the United Kingdom, he led the U.S. into the War of 1812. The war was an administrative morass, as the United States had neither a strong army nor financial system. As a result, Madison afterward supported a stronger national government and military, as well as the national bank, which he had long opposed.
3rd President of the United States March 4, 1801–March 4, 1809
1743–1826 (Lived: 83 years)
Thomas Jefferson (April 13 O.S. April 2 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and later served as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Prior thereto, he was elected the second Vice President of the United States, serving under John Adams from 1797 to 1801. A proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights motivating American colonists to break from Great Britain and form a new nation, he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level.
|Official Presidential portrait of Thomas Jefferson Credit: wikipedia|
Jefferson was primarily of English ancestry, born and educated in colonial Virginia. He graduated from the College of William & Mary and briefly practiced law, at times defending slaves seeking their freedom. During the American Revolution, he represented Virginia in the Continental Congress that adopted the Declaration, drafted the law for religious freedom as a Virginia legislator, and served as a wartime governor (1779–1781). He became the United States Minister to France in May 1785, and subsequently the nation's first Secretary of State in 1790–1793 under President George Washington. Jefferson and James Madison organized the Democratic-Republican Party to oppose the Federalist Party during the formation of the First Party System. With Madison, he anonymously wrote the controversial Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798–1799, which sought to embolden states' rights in opposition to the national government by nullifying the Alien and Sedition Acts.
As President, Jefferson pursued the nation's shipping and trade interests against Barbary pirates and aggressive British trade policies. He also organized the Louisiana Purchase, almost doubling the country's territory. As a result of peace negotiations with France, his administration reduced military forces. He was reelected in 1804. Jefferson's second term was beset with difficulties at home, including the trial of former Vice President Aaron Burr. American foreign trade was diminished when Jefferson implemented the Embargo Act of 1807, responding to British threats to U.S. shipping. In 1803, Jefferson began a controversial process of Indian tribe removal to the newly organized Louisiana Territory, and he signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves in 1807.
Jefferson mastered many disciplines, which ranged from surveying and mathematics to horticulture and mechanics. He was a proven architect in the classical tradition. Jefferson's keen interest in religion and philosophy earned him the presidency of the American Philosophical Society. He shunned organized religion, but was influenced by both Christianity and deism. He was well versed in linguistics and spoke several languages. He founded the University of Virginia after retiring from public office. He was a prolific letter writer and corresponded with many prominent and important people throughout his adult life. His only full-length book is Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), considered the most important American book published before 1800.
Jefferson owned several plantations which were worked by hundreds of slaves. Most historians now believe that, after the death of his wife in 1782, he had a relationship with his slave Sally Hemings and fathered at least one of her children. Historians have lauded Jefferson's public life, noting his primary authorship of the Declaration of Independence during the Revolutionary War, his advocacy of religious freedom and tolerance in Virginia, and the Louisiana Purchase while he was president. Various modern scholars are more critical of Jefferson's private life, pointing out the discrepancy between his ownership of slaves and his liberal political principles, for example. Presidential scholars, however, consistently rank Jefferson among the greatest presidents.
2nd President of the United States March 4, 1797–March 4, 1801
March 4, 1797–March 4, 1801
1735–1826 (Lived: 90 years)
John Adams (October 30 October 19 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American patriot who served as the second President of the United States (1797–1801) and the first Vice President (1789–97). He was a lawyer, diplomat, statesman, political theorist, and, as a Founding Father, a leader of the movement for American independence from Great Britain. He was also a dedicated diarist and correspondent, particularly with his wife and closest advisor Abigail.
|Official Presidential portrait of John Adams Credit: wikipedia|
He collaborated with his cousin, revolutionary leader Samuel Adams, but he established his own prominence prior to the American Revolution. After the Boston Massacre, he provided a successful (though unpopular) legal defense of the accused British soldiers, in the face of severe local anti-British sentiment and driven by his devotion to the right to counsel and the "protect[ion of innocence". Adams was a delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress, where he played a leading role in persuading Congress to declare independence. He assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and was its foremost advocate in the Congress. As a diplomat in Europe, he helped negotiate the eventual peace treaty with Great Britain, and acquired vital governmental loans from Amsterdam bankers. Adams was the primary author of the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780 which influenced American political theory, as did his earlier Thoughts on Government (1776).
Adams's credentials as a revolutionary secured for him two terms as President George Washington's vice president (1789 to 1797) and also his own election in 1796 as the second president. In his single term as president, he encountered fierce criticism from the Jeffersonian Republicans, as well as the dominant faction in his own Federalist Party, led by his rival Alexander Hamilton. Adams signed the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts, and built up the army and navy in the face of an undeclared naval "Quasi-War" with France. The major accomplishment of his presidency was a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the face of Hamilton's opposition. Due to his strong posture on defense, Adams is "often called the father of the American Navy". He was the first U.S. president to reside in the executive mansion, now known as the White House.
In 1800, Adams lost re-election to Thomas Jefferson and retired to Massachusetts. He eventually resumed his friendship with Jefferson upon the latter's own retirement by initiating a correspondence which lasted fourteen years. He and his wife established a family of politicians, diplomats, and historians now referred to as the Adams political family. Adams was the father of John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States. He died on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, and the same day as Jefferson. Modern historians in the aggregate have favorably ranked his administration.
1st President of the United States
April 30, 1789–March 4, 1797
1732–1799 (Lived: 67 years)
George Washington ( February 22, 1732 February 11, 1731 – December 14, 1799) was an American politician and soldier who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797 and was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He served as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and later presided over the 1787 convention that drafted the United States Constitution. He is popularly considered the driving force behind the nation's establishment and came to be known as the "father of the country," both during his lifetime and to this day.
|Portrait of George Washington (1732–99) Credit: wikipedia|
Washington was widely admired for his strong leadership qualities and was unanimously elected president by the Electoral College in the first two national elections. He oversaw the creation of a strong, well-financed national government that maintained neutrality in the French Revolutionary Wars, suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion, and won acceptance among Americans of all types. Washington's incumbency established many precedents still in use today, such as the cabinet system, the inaugural address, and the title Mr. President. His retirement from office after two terms established a tradition that lasted until 1940 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt won an unprecedented third term. The 22nd Amendment (1951) now limits the president to two elected terms.
|Washington at age 40, 1772 Credit: wikipedia|
He was born into the provincial gentry of Colonial Virginia to a family of wealthy planters who owned tobacco plantations and slaves, which he inherited. In his youth, he became a senior officer in the colonial militia during the first stages of the French and Indian War. In 1775, the Second Continental Congress commissioned him as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolution. In that command, Washington forced the British out of Boston in 1776 but was defeated and nearly captured later that year when he lost New York City.
After crossing the Delaware River in the middle of winter, he defeated the British in two battles (Trenton and Princeton), retook New Jersey, and restored momentum to the Patriot cause. His strategy enabled Continental forces to capture two major British armies at Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781. Historians laud Washington for the selection and supervision of his generals; preservation and command of the army; coordination with the Congress, state governors, and their militia; and attention to supplies, logistics, and training. In battle, however, Washington was repeatedly outmaneuvered by British generals with larger armies.
After victory had been finalized in 1783, Washington resigned as commander-in-chief rather than seize power, proving his opposition to dictatorship and his commitment to American republicanism. Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1787, which devised a new form of federal government for the United States. Following his election as president in 1789, he worked to unify rival factions in the fledgling nation.
|General George Washington at Trenton by John Trumbull, Yale University Art Gallery (1792) Credit: wikipedia|
He supported Alexander Hamilton's programs to satisfy all debts, federal and state, established a permanent seat of government, implemented an effective tax system, and created a national bank. In avoiding war with Great Britain, he guaranteed a decade of peace and profitable trade by securing the Jay Treaty in 1795, despite intense opposition from the Jeffersonians. He remained non-partisan, never joining the Federalist Party, although he largely supported its policies. Washington's Farewell Address was an influential primer on civic virtue, warning against partisanship, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars. He retired from the presidency in 1797, returning to his home and plantation at Mount Vernon.
|Washington Crossing the Delaware, December 25, 1776, by Emanuel Leutze, 1851 Credit: wikipedia|
Upon his death, Washington was eulogized as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen" by Representative Henry Lee III of Virgina. He was revered in life and in death; scholarly and public polling consistently ranks him among the top three presidents in American history. He has been depicted and remembered in monuments, public works, currency, and other dedications to the present day.
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Sources : Wikipedia