Our Presidents

Presidents up to 1850

Our presidents have come from a wide selection of backgrounds. Many have been lawyers, others were soldiers, a few were teachers, and some were businessmen. Check out the presidents by clicking on the years you want:

Presidents from 1850-1900
Presidents from 1900-1950
Presidents from 1950-2000
Presidents from 2000-today

George Washington: 1st (1789-1797)
1.      He was born on February 22, 1732 in Pope’s Creek, Virginia.
2.      He died on December 14, 1799.
3.      He went to school until he was 15 when his father died.
4.      He became a surveyor (a person who measured land) and went about measuring the land out west.
5.      He fought in the French and Indian War and became a lieutenant colonel at the age of 22.
6.      He married Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759.
7.      He inherited Mount Vernon, a tobacco plantation, from his brother.
8.      He served on the House of Burgesses.
9.      He became a delegate to the First Continental Congress in 1774.
10.   He was appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental Army at the Second Continental Congress.
11.   He defeated the British at the Battle of Trenton, New Jersey.
12.   He defeated Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781, ending the war.
13.   In 1787, he was unanimously elected president of the Constitutional Convention.
14.   During the Constitutional Convention, he was elected our first president of the United States with 100 percent of the votes.
15.   During his presidency he helped defeat the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania.
16.   He served two terms as president, but refused a third term.
17.   He was known as the Father of our Country.
18.   He retired in 1797 and went back to Mount Vernon

John Adams: 2nd (1797-1801)
1.      He was born on October 30, 1735 in Braintree, Massachusetts.
2.      He attended Harvard College from 1751-1755
3.      He became a teacher in Worcester, Massachusetts.
4.      He became a lawyer.
5.      He married Abigail Smith in 1764 and they had 6 children. Their son John Quincy Adams would become president one day.
6.      He wrote pamphlets and letters about his political philosophy.
7.      He argued with the governor that the Stamp Act of 1765 was illegal because it was passed without the colonists’ consent and the right of a trial by jury was ignored.
8.      He represented two British soldiers after the Boston Massacre in 1770.
9.      He attended the 1st and 2nd Continental Congresses.
10.   He helped Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence.
11.   He wrote “Thoughts on Government” in 1776 that spoke about a republican government.
12.   He served as Vice President to George Washington.
13.   He became our second President of the United States in 1797 beating Jefferson by a vote of 71 to 68.
14.   He’s often called the Father of our Navy.
15.   He signed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798.
16.   After the Judiciary Act of 1801 passed, he helped create the Supreme Court and appoint the first justices.
17.   He was the first president to move into the White House.
18.   After losing to Jefferson, he moved back home to Quincy, Massachusetts.
19.   He died on July 4, 1826 – fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence (on the same exact day as Thomas Jefferson).

Thomas Jefferson: 3rd (1801-1808)
1.      He was born on April 13, 1743 in Virginia.
2.      He learned many languages as a child and knew 5 by the time he died.
3.      He attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg and graduated with high honors in 1762.
4.      He worked for George Wythe and became his law clerk and friend.
5.      He became a lawyer in 1767.
6.      He married Martha Wayles Skelton in 1772 and they had 6 children. Only one lived past the age of 25.
7.      He wrote the “Summary View of the Rights of British America” where he felt the colonies could rule themselves.
8.      He was appointed a delegate to the 2nd Continental Congress in 1775.
9.      He was asked to write the Declaration of Independence.
10.   He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1776.
11.   In 1779, he was elected Governor of Virginia and served during the Revolutionary War.
12.   In 1783, he was appointed to the Congress of Confederation.
13.   He replaced Franklin as our Minister to France and served from 1785 to 1789.
14.   He helped John Adams write an anti-piracy treaty with Morocco. This treaty is still in effect today.
15.   He served as Secretary of State from 1790 to 1793 for George Washington.
16.   He helped form the Democratic-Republican party.
17.   He ran for president against John Adams and lost in 1796 but became Vice President.
18.   In 1800, he ran for president and won, beating Aaron Burr only after the House of Representatives voted him the “lesser of two evils”.  Burr became his Vice President.
19.   He pushed to repeal the Judiciary Act of 1801 and succeeded.
20.   He was re-elected in 1804 by a landslide.
21.   He called for the abolition of the slave trade during his second term.  International slave trade was abolished in 1808.
22.   He started the first Indian relocation plan – forcing tribes to move west.
23.   1803, Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase with France and doubled the size of our country.
24.   He sent Lewis and Clark on their expedition to explore the west.
25.   He founded the University of Virginia after he left the presidency.
26.   He sold a large part of his library to the government after the burning of the capital during the War of 1812. His collection of over 6,000 books became the basis for the Library of Congress.
27.   He died on July 4, 1826, on the same day as John Adams.

James Madison, Jr.: 4th (1809-1817)
1.      He was born on a Virginia plantation on March 16, 1751.
2.      He studied at the College of New Jersey (which later became Princeton).
3.      He was elected to the Virginia State Legislature in 1776.
4.      He pushed for the Religious Freedom Act which eliminated the Church of England as the state’s official religion.
5.      He was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1780.
6.      During the Constitutional Convention, he presented the Virginia Plan in 1787 – a population weighted system of representation.
7.      He helped write the United States Constitution based on a 3 branch government – the legislative, the executive, and the judicial.
8.      He wrote the Federalist Papers with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton and he became known as the Father of the Constitution.
9.      He was elected to the House of Representatives and helped draft the 12 Amendments to the US Constitution.  Ten of them were accepted and became known as the Bill of Rights.
10.   He married Dolley Payne Todd on September 15, 1794.
11.   He was Secretary of State from 1801 to 1809.  He supervised the Louisiana Purchase.
12.   He was elected president in 1808.
13.   He was president during the War of 1812 and Dolley helped save the portrait of George Washington before the British burned the White House.
14.   He is often called the Father of the Bill of Rights.
15.   In 1816, he asked Congress to create the Second Bank of the United States.
16.   He retired in 1817 and returned to his home, Montpelier in Virginia.
17.   He became president of the University of Virginia in 1826 and served until 1836.
18.   He died on June 28, 1836.

James Monroe: 5th (1817-1825)
1.      He was born in Virginia on April 28, 1758.
2.      He attended the College of William and Mary but dropped out to join the Virginia Regiment.
3.      He was shot in the shoulder during the Battle of Trenton.
4.      He studied law with Thomas Jefferson from 1780-783.
5.      He married Elizabeth Kortright in 1786 and they had 3 children.
6.      In 1782 he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
7.      He served in the Continental Congress from 1783 to 1786.
8.      He was elected to the United States Senate in 1790. He joined the Democratic-Republican party and became its leader.
9.      He was the Ambassador to France in 1794 and freed Americans from French prisons.
10.   He became Minister to the Court of St. James in Great Britain from 1803-1807.
11.   He drafted the Monroe-Pinkney Treaty which encouraged trade for 10 years. Jefferson rejected it.
12.   He served as Governor of Virginia from 1799 to 1802.
13.   He was Secretary of State for James Madison in 1811. 
14.   He became Secretary of War during the War of 1812.
15.   When Madison resigned in 1817, Monroe took over as President of the United States.
16.   He pushed for the purchase of Florida from Spain in 1819.
17.   Monroe Doctrine became his policy – the US would remain neutral in world conflicts and they would not tolerate re-colonization of former European territories by European powers, and the Western hemisphere was off limits for future colonization.
18.   He retired in 1825 and moved to Monroe Hill.
19.   After his wife died in 1830, he moved to New York.
20.   He died on July 4, 1831 and is the 3rd of the Founding Fathers to die on this date.

John Quincy Adams: 6th (1825-1829)
1.      He was born on July 11, 1787. His father was John Adams, our 2nd president.
2.      He traveled all over the world with his father.
3.      In 1794 he was appointed Minister to the Netherlands when he was 26 years old.
4.      In 1796 he was named Minister to Portugal.
5.      His own father appointed him Minister to Prussia from 1797 to 1801.
6.      He married Louisa Catherine Johnson.  She was the first First Lady born abroad.
7.      He became the Massachusetts senator in 1802.
8.      In 1809 he was appointed US Minister to Russia by President Madison.
9.      He helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812.
10.   He served as Minister to the Court of St. James in Britain from 1815 to 1817.
11.   In 1817 he became Secretary of State for President Monroe.
12.   He helped negotiate the sale of Florida with the Adams-Onis Treaty.
13.   He faced 4 opponents during his run for the presidency – Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, William H. Crawford, and Henry Clay.
14.   He was elected by the House of Representatives in 1825.
15.   The Tariff of 1828 was so unpopular it was called the Tariff of Abominations – because it placed high tariffs on wool, flax hemp, molasses, and distilled spirits.
16.   Many opposed his actions during his presidency, so he was not re-elected in 1828.
17.   He was elected to the House or Representatives in 1831 and served for 17 years.
18.   He filed many anti-slavery petitions while in the Houses.
19.   On February 23, 1848 he died in the Speaker’s Room of the Capitol Building.

Andrew Jackson: 7th (1829-1837)
1.      On March 15, 1767, Andrew Jackson was born. His parents were Irish immigrants.
2.      He became a courier at the age of 13 during the Revolutionary War.
3.      He was captured by the British and they left scars on his head and left hand from being hit by a sword.
4.      At the age of 14, he was an orphan. His mother got him released by the British but died later that year.
5.      He studied law and became a lawyer in 1787.
6.      He married Rachel Donelson.
7.      When Tennessee became a state, he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1796.
8.      Later he was elected to the Senate but joined the Tennessee Supreme Court instead.
9.      In 1801 he rejoined the military in the Tennessee militia.
10.   During the War of 1812, he led forces against the Indians and secured over 20 million acres of land.  He was given the rank of major general.
11.   During the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, he got the name of “Old Hickory” because he was as touch as hickory.
12.   He earned a gold medal from Congress for his victory and became an American hero.
13.   Jackson invaded Pensacola in 1818, got rid of the Spanish governor, and executed two British subjects which caused an international incident.  John Quincy Adams defended his actions and they acquired Florida afterwards.
14.   The second time he ran for president he won. He lost to John Quincy Adams in 1824, but he won in 1828.
15.   He renamed the Old Republican Party the Democratic Party and used a donkey as the symbol during his campaign because of what his opponents called him.
16.   He was elected again in 1832.
17.   He was opposed to the electoral college and wanted a single term for the presidency.
18.   In 1835 he paid off the national debt.
19.   He closed the National Bank and put the nation’s money in several smaller banks.
20.   In 1837 the country suffered the Panic of 1837 – because paper bills were not backed by silver or gold.
21.   The Indian tribes were moved westward with the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which allowed him to negotiate treaties with Indian nations.
22.   He retired from office in 1837 and went to his home in Tennessee.
23.   He died on June 8, 1845.

Martin Van Buren: 8th (1837-1841)
1.      He was born in Kinderhook, New York in 1782 and was the first president born after the revolution.
2.      He studied law under Francis Sylvester for  6 years and was admitted to the bar in 1803.
3.      He married Hannah Hoes in 1807. They had 6 children.
4.      In 1821 he was elected to the US Senate.
5.      In 1828 he was elected Governor of New York but he was in office only two months before becoming Secretary of State.
6.      He became the Vice Presidential candidate with Andrew Jackson.
7.      Four years later, he decided to run for president.
8.      He won the election in 1837.
9.      When the banks failed, he blamed them for extending too much credit and presented a plan for a federal treasury.
10.   He believed slavery was wrong but also felt the federal government should not interfere.
11.   He aggressively enforced the Indian Removal Act and the forced push to send them west resulted in the Trail of Tears.
12.   The Maine-Canadian border was decided in 1842.
13.   He lost the election to William Henry Harrison in 1840 and left office in 1841.
14.   He ran for president again, but lost to James Polk in 1844.
15.   He ran again in 1848, but lost to Zachary Taylor.
16.   He retired in 1848.
17.   On July 24, 1862, he died of heart failure.

William Henry Harrison: 9th (1841)
1.      He was born on February 9, 1773 in Virginia.
2.      His father was a delegate to the 2nd Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence.
3.      He attended Hampden-Sydney College in 1787 where he studied Latin and French.
4.      He became involved with anti-slavery Quakers and was sent to the University of Philadelphia, but dropped out.
5.      He joined the military and fought in the Northwest Indian war. He signed the Treaty of Greenville to end the war in 1795.
6.      He married Ana Symmes in 1795 and they ran a successful horse-breeding business. They had ten children.
7.      He was the Secretary of the Northwest Territory which was split into Ohio and Indiana.
8.      He became the Governor of the Indiana Territory.
9.      After a disagreement with Tecumseh, he marched 1000 troops against the growing Indian confederation – the Battle of Tippecanoe.
10.   He was the commander of the Army of the Northwest during the War of 1812.
11.   He negotiated many treaties with Native American tribes which gave the US more and more land.
12.   He was elected to the House of Representatives and served from 1816 – 1819.
13.   Later he served in the Ohio Senate.
14.   He also served in the US Senate but left in 1828 when he was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to Colombia.
15.   He returned home to retire and opened a distillery but closed it after seeing how the whiskey affected his clients.
16.   He ran for president in 1836 but was unsuccessful, but he ran again four years later.  This time he won.
17.   On inauguration day, he did not wear his hat or coat and became ill. He died four weeks later.

John Tyler: 10th (1841-1845)
1.      Became president when William Henry Harrison died after only 1 month in office.
2.      He was born on March 29, 1790 in Virginia. His father was governor from 1808-1811.
3.      He attended the College of William and Mary and graduated at the age of 17.
4.      He became a lawyer and was admitted to the bar in 1809.
5.      He married Letitia Christian who died in 1842.
6.      He served in the military during the War of 1812.
7.      He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1816 and served until 1821.
8.      He became the governor of Virginia, just like his father, and served from 1825-1827.
9.      In 1827 he was elected to the US Senate and served until 1836.
10.   He joined William Henry Harrison as his running mate for the election of 1840.
11.   When Harrison died on April 4, 1841, no one was sure if he would become president or not but they finally agreed he should take the oath of office.
12.   He believed in state rights.
13.   He married Julia Gardiner.
14.   Texas joined the US in 1845 becoming the 29th state.
15.   Tyler claimed Hawaii was part of the US and told the British to stay out.
16.   He sent diplomats to China.
17.   He tried to run again but realized he would not win so he supported James Polk who did win.
18.   He retired to his plantation “Sherwood Forest”.
19.   When the Civil War broke out, he supported the Confederacy.
20.   He died in 1862.

James Polk: 11th (1845-1849)
1.      He was born in 1795 in North Carolina on November 2nd.
2.      His family moved to Tennessee when he was a child.
3.      He attended the University of North Carolina and graduated in 1818.
4.      He joined the Tennessee state senate in 1819 and served until 1822.
5.      He joined the state legislature in 1823.
6.      He married Sarah Childress in 1824.
7.      In 1825 he ran for US House of Representatives. He served 5 terms.
8.      He was governor of Tennessee from 1839-1841.
9.      Strangely he did not want to run for president, but vice president. He nominated and accepted.
10.   Throughout his presidency he pushed for more western expansion. Slavery was a huge issue.
11.   The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed giving the US California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.
12.   He left office in 1849 and returned to his home – Polk House in Nashville, Tennessee.
13.   On June 15, 1849 he died.

Zachary Taylor: 12th (1849-1850)
1.      Born on November 24, 1784 in Virginia, Zachary Taylor was one of 9 children.
2.      He was a descendant of the Pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower.
3.      He studied with tutors as he grew up in a wood cabin
4.      He joined the military and his cousin, James Madison, got him a commission as a first lieutenant.
5.      He retired from the army in 1814 but rejoined and became a brigadier general.
6.      He married Margaret Smith.
7.      He fought against Santa Anna in 1847 and won the Battle of Buena Vista.
8.      He got the nickname – “Old Rough and Ready”.
9.      He was elected president in 1848 even though he had never voted in an election.
10.   He started convincing new states to become free states and the South threatened to secede.
11.   After eating a bowl of cherries in milk, he fell ill.  He died on July 9th, 1850. 
12.   Some believed he was poisoned but tests declared his death was cholera.

Millard Fillmore: 13th (1850-1853)
1.      He was born in New York on January 7, 1800.
2.      He was an apprentice to cloth makers but attended Hope Academy.
3.      He then worked as a law clerk and was admitted to the bar in 1823.
4.      He married Abigail Powers in 1826 and they had two children.
5.      His law firm – Fillmore and Hall became one of the most prominent ones in New York.
6.      He help found the University of Buffalo.
7.      In 1828, he was elected to the House of Representatives.
8.      He chaired the House Ways and Means Committee.
9.      He was state comptroller of New York.
10.   In 1848 he was elected the Vice President under Zachary Taylor.
11.   He was a big supporter of slavery in new territories.
12.   His first wife died in 1853.
13.   He married Caroline McIntosh.
14.   After Taylor died in office, he became president.
15.   The Compromise of 1850 was passed in a series of 5 smaller bills.
16.   He left office at the end of the term, but ran again for the Know-Nothing Party.
17.   He passed away on March 8, 1874.

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