In some ways, the 46 American presidents are very similar. So far, they are all men, on the one hand, who lack neither ambition nor charisma, and who have a certain talent for self-promotion and networking.
At the same time, each Commander-in-Chief is brimming with uniqueness. Read facts about each president, in order of their service, from a 19th century hotshot with a taste for dueling to a 20th century veteran who nearly died after being hit by anti-aircraft fire during WWII world.
1. george washington (1789-1797): America’s first president and Revolutionary War hero was an enthusiastic breeder of dogs, especially hunting dogs, which he gave names like “Sweet Lips” and “Drunk”.
2. John Adams (1797-1801): Adams and his wife, Abigail, exchanged over 1,100 letters during their long relationship.
3. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809): Jefferson, the main author of the Declaration of Independence, died on July 4, 1826, a few hours after his “fremy” John Adams.
4. James Madison (1809-1817): Madison was the shortest president at 5’4″ and weighed just over 100 pounds.
5. James Monroe (1817-1825): Other than Washington, Monroe was the only president to run essentially unopposed, facing re-election in the 1820 race.
6. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829): Years after leaving the White House, Quincy Adams argued a famous Supreme Court case that freed captive Africans who had rebelled aboard the slave ship Amistad.
seven. Andre Jackson (1829-1837): Jackson once killed a man in a duel.
8. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841): Van Buren is the first president to be born American. All previous presidents were originally British subjects, born before 1776.
9. William Henry Harrison (1841): Harrison lasted just 32 days in office, the shortest term of any president.
ten. John Tyler (1841-1845): Tyler fathered 15 children, the most of any president.
11. James K. Polk (1845-1849): During his tenure, Polk secretly purchased a number of enslaved children for his Mississippi cotton plantation.
12. Zachary Taylor (1849-1850): “Old Rough and Ready” never voted in an election until he himself was on the ballot.
13. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853): Fillmore was the last Whig president; the party imploded shortly after he left office.
14. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857): New Hampshire’s only president also attended college in New England, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
15. James Buchanan (1857-1861): In 1853, while minister to Britain, Buchanan helped draft the Ostend Manifesto of 1854, which advocated an American invasion of Cuba.
16. abraham lincoln (1861-1865): ‘Honest Abe’, the tallest president at 6ft 4in, may have had Marfan Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes people to be very tall, thin and tall.
17. Andre Johnson (1865-1869): Although one of the few presidents without a pet, Johnson apparently cared for a family of White House mice, whom he called “the little fellows.”
18. Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877): Civil War General Grant was invited to join Abraham Lincoln at Ford‘s Theater on the fateful evening of April 14, 1865, but was forced to decline after he and his wife planned to visit their children in New Jersey.
19. Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881): Hayes was the first president to have a telephone in the White House.
20. James A. Garfield (1881): Garfield (who was the first known left-handed president) was elected to the United States Senate, but he never served as a senator from Ohio because he later won the Republican nomination for president.
21. Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885): Arthur was named in honor of Chester Abell, the doctor who gave birth to him.
22. and 24. Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897): No president except Cleveland ever served non-consecutive terms: defeated James G. Blaine in 1884, lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888 (despite winning by popular vote), then returned to defeat Harrison in 1892.
23. Benjamin Harrisson (1889-1893): Harrison was the first president to hire a woman in the White House.
25. William McKinley (1897-1901): McKinley’s likeness appears on the $500 bill, which was discontinued in 1969.
26. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909): Roosevelt was the youngest president, taking office at age 42.
27. William Howard Taft (1909-1913): Famous for his build, Taft was the first president to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Major League Baseball game.
28. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921): In a 1914 proclamation, Wilson officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
29. Warren G. Harding (1921-1923): Before taking office, Harding wrote a series of grim love letters to his mistress, the wife of one of his best friends.
30. Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929): A quiet man, Coolidge allegedly answered “You lose” to a visitor who bet she could get at least three words out of him.
31. Herbert Hoover (1929-1933): Originally from Iowa who spent part of his childhood in Oregon, Hoover was the first president to come from west of the Mississippi River.
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945): The longest-serving commander-in-chief claimed to be a distant relative of 11 other presidents, including his fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt.
33. Harry S. Truman (1945-1953): The “S” in Harry S. Truman was just an initial; it represented no name. (The “S” in Ulysses S. Grant also meant nothing.)
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961): World War II hero “Ike” was the first president to ride in a helicopter.
35. John F Kennedy (1961-1963): After being wounded and honorably discharged during World War II, Kennedy was briefly employed as a journalist during the final weeks of the war.
36. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969): Johnson’s first career was as a teacher. He worked at a school near the US-Mexico border for four years before embarking on a political career.
37. Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974): Nixon became such a skilled poker player while stationed in the Solomon Islands during World War II that his winnings helped launch his political career upon his return to the United States.
38: Gerald Ford (1974-77): A star football player at the University of Michigan, Ford turned down offers from the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.
39. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981): When his father died in 1953, Carter abandoned his successful military career to return to Georgia and work on the family peanut farm.
40. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989): Reagan worked as a lifeguard and sportscaster before becoming an actor and later a politician.
41. george bush (1989-1993): While a student at Yale University, Bush was captain of the baseball team and a member of Skull and Bones, an elite secret student society.
42. bill clinton (1993-2001): Clinton played saxophone and performed on the Arsenio Hall Show when he was running for president.
43. George W. Bush (2001-2009): After the presidency, Bush embarked on oil painting, exhibiting his work at the Museum of the Southwest in Texas.
44. barack obama (2009-2017): Before becoming the first African-American president, Obama won two Grammy Awards for “Best Spoken Word Album.” His wife, Michelle, also won a Grammy.
45. Donald J. Trump (2017-2021): Before becoming president, Trump was a real estate developer, entrepreneur, and host of the NBC reality show, “The Apprentice.”
46: Joe Biden (2021-present): Biden overcame a debilitating childhood stutter after being bullied because of the condition in elementary school.