America has seen 44 Presidents (including Grover Cleveland’s two non-consecutive terms), since her first President took oath on the 30th of April, 1789. Here’s a chronological list of men who have led this great country until now.
According to the U.S. constitution, the President is the head of the government and the head of the state. Moreover, he is also the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces. A single term of a President lasts for four years, after which he can be re-elected only once, according to the Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution that was made in 1951. The United States of America has had 44 Presidents till today.
This Historyplex article brings you a chronological list of them.
George Washington (1789 – 1797)
George Washington was the first President of the U.S. He was a military genius, who maneuvered the American War of Independence. He was a statesman who helped to stabilize the American government from amidst political chaos. The capital of the U.S. is named after him, and the dollar bill and the quarter have his face imprinted on them. Elected twice as the President of America, he was the only president ever to be elected unanimously. North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee were annexed to the United States during the presidency of George Washington.
John Adams (1797 – 1801)
John Adams was elected to power in 1797 to become the second President of the U.S. He was also the first vice president of the country, serving during the presidency of George Washington. A renowned diplomat, lawyer, political theorist, and writer, he played a significant role in the American Revolution. He was also one of America’s Founding Fathers.
Thomas Jefferson (1801 – 1809)
Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence of the United States. Jefferson was the third President of the U.S., and held office for two terms. Prior to this, he was the country’s second vice president and its first Secretary of State. Thomas Jefferson founded and designed the University of Virginia. It was during his tenure that America purchased the territory of Louisiana from France.
James Madison (1809 – 1817)
James Madison was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was elected as the fourth President of the U.S. During the presidency of Jefferson, he was the Secretary of State. Madison was the author of the constitutional bill, known as the United States Bill of Rights. The War of 1812, between the U.S. and the Great Britain, was fought during the presidency of James Madison. He held the presidential office for two terms.
James Monroe (1817 – 1825)
James Monroe was the fifth President of America, and also one of the Founding Fathers. Monroe was famous for his foreign policy, known as the Monroe Doctrine. In it, he warned the European nations against intervening and interfering in the matters of those countries of the Americas, which had recently achieved independence. The presidential term of James Monroe is known as the “Era of Good Feelings” in the history of the United States.
John Quincy Adams (1825 – 1829)
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States. The eldest son of former President John Adams, he was one of the diplomats who helped formulate the Monroe Doctrine. Other offices held by John Quincy Adams were―Minister to Russia, Minister to Great Britain, and the Secretary of State. During his tenure, he promoted education and made attempts to modernize the American economy.
Andrew Jackson (1829 – 1837)
Jackson was the seventh President of America and held the office for two terms. He was the first to be elected to the House of Representatives from the new state of Tennessee. Being a lawyer by profession, he was appointed as a judge in the Supreme Court of Tennessee. The other offices held by Andrew Jackson were―member of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senator, and the Provisional Governor of Florida.
Martin Van Buren (1837 – 1841)
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the U.S. He was one of the founders of the Democratic Party. His colleagues and friends called him “Little Magician”, while his foes called him “Sly Fox”. He was a skilled politician and was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York. He served as the Governor of New York, and Secretary of State during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, and also as the vice president of the United States. The Panic of 1837 struck during his tenure. He was voted out of office after the completion of his tenure.
William Henry Harrison (March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841)
William Harrison was the ninth President of the United States of America. He was 68 years old when he was elected the President of the United States, making him the oldest American President ever. He was the last president to be born under the British rule, and also the first president to die in office. The other offices held by him were―member of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senator, Governor of Indiana Territory, and U.S. Minister to Colombia.
John Tyler (1841 – 1845)
John Tyler was the tenth President of the U.S. He was also vice president during the tenure of William Harrison. Other commissions and offices held by Tyler were―member of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senator, and the Governor of Virginia. Several historians criticize his presidency and hold his tenure in low esteem. Moreover, according to the 21st century Americans, John Tyler has an obscure presence, with almost no impact on the American cultural history.
James Knox Polk (1845 – 1849)
James Knox Polk was the eleventh President of the United States. The Mexican-American War was fought during his presidency. In this war, many territories along the Pacific coast and in the Southwest were acquired. Moreover, his foreign policies were a grand success. Commissions and offices held by James Knox Polk were―member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Speaker of the House, and the Governor of Tennessee.
Zachary Taylor (1849 – 1850)
Zachary Taylor was the twelfth President of the U.S. He was a veteran of the Mexican-American War. However, his tenure as President of the United States, lasted only for sixteen months, after which he died while still holding office. He had not held any offices or commissions before becoming the president. According to historians, owing to his lack of any prior political experience before assuming power, his overall tenure was an uneventful period in American history.
Millard Fillmore (1850 – 1853)
Millard Fillmore was the thirteenth President of the U.S. He took over the office of president after the death of President Zachary Taylor. He was very unpopular as a President, because of the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Enforcement of this law led to the destruction of the Whig Party, and also to the death of his own political career. Other offices held by him were―member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the vice president of the United States.
Franklin Pierce (1853 – 1857)
Franklin Pierce was the fourteenth President of America. From 1833 to 1837, Pierce served in the U.S. House of Representatives, and later in the Senate from 1837 to 1842. He was nominated as a compromise presidential candidate at a Democratic Party convention in 1852. Pierce was instrumental in reorganizing the diplomatic and consular services. He also created the U.S. Court of Claims. During his tenure, Pierce promoted the plans for a transcontinental railroad.
James Buchanan (1857 – 1861)
James Buchanan was the fifteenth President of the U.S., and was the only bachelor President of the country. He served as an attorney before his tenure started. It was during his tenure that violence broke out in Kansas, due to the provision of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 that allowed to Kansas settlers to choose whether or not to allow slavery in the state. The chapter, known in the history of the United States as Bloody Kansas, led to an extreme violence between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers, thus, making Buchanan lose his popularity. Other offices held by him were―member of the House of Representatives, U.S. Senator, the Secretary of State, and the minister to Russia and Britain.
Abraham Lincoln (1861 – 1865)
Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth President of the United States of America. He was instrumental in the abolition of slavery by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Lincoln was also instrumental in promoting the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution. The American Civil War took place during the tenure of Abraham Lincoln. Owing to his work and his popularity, he was re-elected as the president for the second time, however, he was assassinated in April, 1865 at the age of 56, thus, becoming the first ever American President to be assassinated. The other offices held by Abraham Lincoln were―member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the state legislature of Illinois, and as the postmaster of New Salem, Illinois.
Andrew Johnson (1865 – 1869)
Upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson became the seventeenth President of the United States. As the President of America, Johnson initiated the Radical Reconstruction Policies after the American Civil War. However, his leniency towards Southern states led to his political downfall. Other offices held by Andrew Johnson include member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Governor of Tennessee, U.S. Senator, and also vice president.
Ulysses S. Grant (1869 – 1877)
Ulysses Simpson Grant was the eighteenth President of the United States. He was the first President to serve two full terms in Presidential office since Andrew Jackson. He supported the African-American Civil Rights Movement, owing to which, President Grant was made the Civil War Supreme Commander of Union Forces. His book, called “Memoirs”, on the civil war years was appreciated by critics the world over.
Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1877 – 1881)
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the nineteenth President of the United States of America. He was instrumental in closing the chapter of reconstruction policies after the civil war in southern states. He did his best to put an end to corruption that had begun during the tenure of the former President. The United States entered into a phase of Second Industrial Revolution during his tenure. Other offices held by Rutherford included member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Governor of Ohio.
James Abram Garfield (March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881)
Garfield was the twentieth President of the United States. He was the second President to hold a shortest tenure in the history of America―just 200 days, owing to his assassination. James Garfield served as a major-general in the American army, and was also the member of the U.S. House of Representatives. As President, one of his most notable accomplishments was the appointment to several African-Americans at important federal positions. He also strove to energize America’s naval power.
Chester Alan Arthur (1881 – 1885)
Chester A. Arthur was the twenty-first President of America. He served as the Quartermaster General during the American Civil War. He was also the vice president during the tenure of James Garfield. The cabinet of Chester never had a vice president. During his tenure, Chester Arthur passed the reforms and acts such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act and the Civil Rights Act. At the close of his term, he took retirement from his political career, owing to his ill health.
Grover Cleveland (1885 – 1889 and 1893 – 1897)
Grover Cleveland served as the twenty-second and the twenty-fourth President of the United States, which means that he was elected two times. He was admired for his honesty, integrity, independence, and commitment to the principles of liberalism. He was a great reformer, who fought against corruption and patronage.
Benjamin Harrison (1889 – 1893)
The twenty-third President of America was Benjamin Harrison. His tenure is known for economic policies such as the Sherman Antitrust Act and the McKinley Tariff. It was during his time that the annual federal spending reached “one billion dollars”, an issue that worked against him in the subsequent elections. Harrison retired from his political career after he lost the election to Grover Cleveland in 1893, however, being a lawyer by profession, he represented the Republic of Venezuela in an international suit against the United Kingdom, later on in his life.
William McKinley (1897 – 1901)
William McKinley was twenty-fifth President of the United States, and the last American Civil War Veteran to be elected as the President. It was during his tenure that the Americans fought against Spain, and took control of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, and Hawaii. William McKinley also set up a protectorate over Cuba. In 1901, he was wounded by an anarchist’s bullet, which eventually took his life, despite several attempts to save him.
Theodore Roosevelt (1901 – 1909)
Popularly known as “Teddy”, he was the twenty-sixth President of America. He was also the fifth vice president to succeed to America’s highest office. First elected as President at the age of 42 years, he became the youngest person ever to become the President of the United States. One of his most noteworthy achievements was the negotiation to take control of the Panama Canal and the subsequent construction of the same. He was also the first American and the first President to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating peace in the Russo-Japanese War. Roosevelt served for two consecutive terms as the President of America.
William Howard Taft (1909 – 1913)
William Taft was the twenty-seventh President and the tenth Chief Justice of the United States. He was a staunch advocate of world peace. During his tenure as President, William Taft strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission, expanded the civil service, and also improved the postal system in the U.S. His reform of Dollar Diplomacy helped in further economic reforms in Latin America and Asia.
Woodrow Wilson (1913 – 1921)
The twenty-eighth President of America was Thomas Woodrow Wilson. It was during his tenure that World War I broke out. Wilson was instrumental in creating and advocating the League of Nations. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919. The nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution took place during his second term as President. In this amendment, he gave women the suffrage rights. When he suffered a paralytic stroke during the second half of his term, it was considered as the worst crisis of presidential disability in the entire history of the United States.
Warren Gamaliel Harding (1921 – 1923)
Warren Harding was the twenty-ninth President of the United States of America. He won the election with the greatest popular vote margin of that time. Harding became President when America was returning to normalcy after World War I. He was the first newspaper publisher to become President. His administration achieved very little lasting value, owing to the numerous scandals that took place when he was in power. Consequently, the historians termed his presidency to be among the worst in American history. In August 1923, while he was still holding office, Harding suddenly passed away, and the real cause of his death has since been a matter of speculation.
Calvin Coolidge (1923 – 1929)
John Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as the thirtieth President of America, at the time when Harding’s scandals were coming to light. Calvin strove to restore the integrity of the federal government. During his presidency, American economy experienced a rapid economic growth. This period in the history of America is known as the “Roaring Twenties”. His tenure lasted less than two terms, as he died of coronary thrombosis, while on an official tour to California.
Herbert Hoover (1929 – 1933)
Herbert Clark Hoover was the thirty-first President of America. The Great Depression began during his presidency. Hoover was not able to save the American economy from spiraling downward, in spite of authorizing aid to the farmers. His opposition to provide direct government assistance to the unemployed, destroyed his image as a reformer.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933 – 1945)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, popularly known as FDR, was the thirty-second President of America. He was the only President in American history to serve more than two terms. During the Great Depression, Roosevelt created New Deal Coalition (a sequence of programs to revive the American economy) to provide employment, relief to the unemployed, and to reform the banking and economic systems. The FDR Government provided Lend-Lease aid to countries that were fighting against Nazis during the World War II. Post the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, he, with popular support, waged war on Japan and Germany. Just before he breathed his last in 1945, FDR was sitting for a portrait painting before the artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff. He suddenly collapsed while the portrait was still being made, and owing to his sudden demise, it was left unfinished. It then went into the pages of history as the famous Unfinished Portrait of FDR.
Harry S. Truman (1945 – 1953)
After the death of FDR, Truman was elected as the thirty-third President of America. He led America through the final stages of World War II. He also witnessed the early stages of Cold War, by opposing the expansion of Soviet Union in Europe, and by opposing the communist invasion in South Korea. Truman was instrumental in creating the United Nations and NATO, and is remembered for his bold decision of using nuclear weapons against Japan.
Dwight David Eisenhower (1953 – 1961)
Eisenhower was the thirty-fourth American President. During World War II, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. During his tenure, he called for ceasefire of the Korean War, and also kept the Soviet Union under control during the Cold War. He also made nuclear weapons, the highest defense priority at that time. It was during his presidency, that the Outer Space Program gained popularity and recognition. He reformed the Social Security Program, and also initiated the Interstate Highway System. His presidency lasted for two consecutive terms.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961 – 1963)
John F. Kennedy or JFK was the second youngest President of the United States. He was sworn in as the thirty-fifth President of America, and was an attractive and a charismatic leader. To this date, Kennedy is the only American President to win the Pulitzer Prize. He was also the first President ever to hold a press conference on television. The domestic policy of Kennedy was known as New Frontier. It was aimed at child education and medical care for the old and needy. JFK opposed racism and initiated the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Unfortunately, he was assassinated on November 22, 1963.
Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963 – 1969)
Lyndon Johnson was elected as the thirty-sixth American President. During his presidency, he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, considered to be the most comprehensive civil rights legislation after the Reconstruction era. He also initiated many social service programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, aid for education, and “War on Poverty”. He became unpopular when he increased the American involvement in Vietnam War, as several riots broke out throughout the country, owing to strong antiwar sentiments among people. These eventually had very strong adverse repercussions on the law and order situation.
Richard Nixon (1969 – 1974)
Nixon was the thirty-seventh President of the U.S., and the only President to resign from office. During his presidency, the U.S. foreign policy was marked by Détente and Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union. A ceasefire with Vietnam was successfully negotiated, thus, ending the longest war in the history of America. Due to a political scandal, he resigned from office. Nixon was the only person to have been elected twice to the post of vice president.
Gerald Ford (1974 – 1977)
The thirty-eighth President of America was Gerald Rudolph “Jerry” Ford, Jr. He was also the fortieth Vice President of the U.S. He became President after the resignation of Nixon. Ford was the only President who was never elected by an electoral voting. One of the longest-living Presidents in the history of America, he died at the age of 93. During his tenure, American economy witnessed phases of inflation and recession.
Jimmy Carter (1977 – 1981)
James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr. was the thirty-ninth American President. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. During his tenure, Carter created two new cabinet level departments―the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. He emphasized on human rights, and also negotiated peace talks and treaty between Israel and Egypt. Towards the end of his tenure, he had to face numerous national and international challenges, which eventually led to the decrease in his popularity quotient. These included the 1979-1981 Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Ronald Reagan (1981 – 1989)
Ronald Wilson Reagan, an actor turned politician, was the fortieth American President. He was in office for two consecutive terms. During his tenure, Reagan implemented many bold economic and foreign policies such as substantial tax cuts, INF Treaty, and many more. He died at the age of 93, 10 years after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. However, he still remains a popular figure and a conservative icon in the United States.
George Herbert Walker Bush (1989 – 1993)
George H. W. Bush was sworn in as the forty-first President of America. It was during his tenure that America got involved in the war between Iraq and Kuwait, popularly known as the Gulf War. During his tenure, America also witnessed the fall of the USSR. He is also remembered for leading special task forces for fighting the “War on Drugs”. He is the father of the forty-third President, George W. Bush.
Bill Clinton (1993 – 2001)
William Jefferson Clinton was the third youngest and the forty-second President of the United States. Since he was born after the World War II, he is known as the first “Baby Boomer President”. He served office for two consecutive terms. Bill Clinton presided over the longest period of peacetime expansion. It is reported that at the end of his second term, America had a surplus of $559 billion in its coffers.
George Walker Bush (2001 – 2009)
George W. Bush was the forty-third President of the United States. He focused on economic and foreign policy, and initiated the War on Terrorism, as an aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. He served two consecutive terms as President. He also implemented laws like the No Child Left Behind Act, Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and many others.
Barack Obama (2009 – till date)
Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th and the current President of the United States. He is the first African-American to hold the presidential office. The major laws implemented by him are the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Job Creation Act of 2010, the 2010 Tax Relief Act, and many more. He is the first President to publicly support same-sex marriages. His remarkable achievement was the initiation of a military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.