As a parent, I fondly remember the long hours and late nights helping each of my daughters putting the finishing touches on various assignments and projects involving the American Presidents. It is a learning experience I gladly support. Studying the presidents offers the student a great opportunity to discover their heritage. Each of these presidents represents a unique period in our history, each one is a reflection of the times in which they lived. Rather than the study of static facts, it gives each of us a true sense of the strength and spirit that helped make us what we are today. I hope this page will be an enjoyable springboard on your journey into our history.
I sincerely thank those involved in researching the facts I have included here. Links and credits are included below and at the bottom of the page. Please read on and enjoy.
The information below was found on the U.S. government site for the White House. You can visit the site at the following link:
I have included here the facts I found most interesting. There is much more available at the link above as well as the others you will find on the page. I have also included links to some interesting books on American Presidents.
George Washington (1789-97) – Born in Westmorland county Virginia, married Martha Dandridge Custis. Quote in a letter to James Madison: “As the first of every thing, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent, it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.”
John Adams (1797-1801) – Born in Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts, married Abigail Smith. Quote regarding his role as Vice President: “My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.”
Thomas Jefferson (1801-09) – Born in Albermarle County Virginia, married Martha Wales Skelton. He drafted the Declaration of Independence. Quote from a private letter in 1800:”I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
James Madison (1809-17) – Born in Port Conway, King George Virginia, married Dolley Payne Todd. Quote from a note read after his death: “The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is that the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated.”
James Monroe (1817-25) – Born in Westmoreland county, Virginia, married Elizabeth Kortwright. Quote that later became known as the Monroe Doctrine: “. . . the American continents by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European Power.”
John Quincy Adams (1825-29) – Born in Braintree, Massachusetts, married Louia Catherine Johnson. He was the son of the second president, John Adams.
Andrew Jackson (1829-37) – Born in Waxhaw, South Carolina, married Rachel Donelson. Prior to his presidency, he was a Lawyer in Tennessee and later served as a major general in the war of 1812.
Martin Van Buren (1837-41) – Born in Columbia, New York, married Hannah Hoes. Nicknamed “Little Magician”, he was of Dutch decent and born to a tavernkeeper and farmer.
William Henry Harrison (1841) – Born in Charles City county, Virginia, married Anna Tuthill Symmes. He served as president for one month and became the first president to die in office when he caught pneumonia.
John Tyler (1841-45) – Born in Charles City County, Virginia, married twice to Letitia Christian and Julia Gardiner. He was the first Vice President to take the office due to the death of the president. The campaign slogan for Harrison and Tyler – “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”.
James Polk (1845-49) – Born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, married Sarah Childress. His presidency saw a major expansion of the country when Mexico ceded California and New Mexico to the United States, marking the beginning of the quarrel between the north and south over slavery.
Zachary Taylor (1849-50) – Born in Orange County, Virginia, married Margaret Mackall Smith. He was the second president to die in office when he became sick from eating cherries and milk at a July 4th Celebration.
Millard Fillmore (1850-53) – Born in Cayuga County, New York, married Abigail Powers. His presidency brought statehood to California, territorial status to New Mexico and slave trade abolished in the District of Columbia.
Franklin Pierce (1853-57) – Born in Hillsboro, New Hampshire, married Jane Means Appleton. He entered office after a personal tragedy. His eleven year old son died in a train wreck two months before he took office.
James Buchanan (1857-61) – Born in Cove Gap near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, he never married. His niece, Harriet Lane served as first lady.
Abraham Lincoln (1861-65) – Born in Hodgenville, Hardin County, Kentucky, married Mary Todd. He was president during one of the most traumatic times in our history. He described his life with the following words: “I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families–second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks…. My father … removed from Kentucky to … Indiana, in my eighth year…. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up…. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher … but that was all.”
Andrew Johnson (1865-69) – Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, married Eliza McCardle.
Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77) – Born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, married Julia Dent.
Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-81) – Born in Delaware, Ohio, married Lucy Ware Web. He lost the election based on popular vote with 4,036,000 votes for him and 4,300,000 for Tilden, but was elected president based on electoral votes of 185 to 184.
James A. Garfield (1881) – Born in Orange, Ohio, married Lucretia Rudolph. He served less than one year in office. He died from a gunshot wound at the hands of a man who was angered at not receiving a consular post.
Chester A. Arthur (1881-85) – Born in Fairfield, Vermont, married Ellen Lewis Herndon. During his presidency, he was diagnosed with a fatal kidney disease. He lost his renomination and died shortly after that.
Grover Cleveland (1885-89) – Born in Caldwell, New Jersey, not married when he became president. He became the first and only president to be married while in office when he married Frances Folsom in June 1886.
Benjamin Harrison (1889-93) – Born in North Bend, Ohio, married Caroline Lavinia Scott. He was the grandson of William Henry Harrison. His wife died of tuberculosis at the White House in 1892. Her daughter, Mrs. McKee acted as first lady for the remainder of his term. He remarried after leaving office marrying his first wife’s niece, Mary Scott Lord Dimmick.
Grover Cleveland (1893-97) – Although he lost his reelction bid in 1888, he went on to win the presidency in 1892, becoming the only president to be elected to two non-consecutive terms.
William McKinley (1897-1901) – Born in Niles, Ohio, married Ida Saxton. He served less than a year of his second term when he was assassinated at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition in September 1901.
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) – Born in New York, New York, Edith Kermit Carow. His first wife, Alice Lee, died in 1884 before he took office. His legacy to the American people included many conservation achievements. Under his presidency, large areas of land were added to the national forests, saving them for future generations to enjoy protected from development.
William H. Taft (1909-13) – Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, married Helen Herron. One his greatest achievements came after he left office when he was appointed Chief Justice of the United States.
Woodrow Wilson (1913-21) – Born in Staunton, Virginia, married twice to Ellen Louise Axson and Edith Bolling Galt. He won in the presidency in 1912 in the electoral college, only receiving 42% of the popular vote. In his first term, he established the Federal Trade commission, while his second term was preoccupied with the battles of World War II.
Warren Harding (1921-23) – Born in Corsica, Ohio, Florence Kling. While his presidency was marked with scandals, he died of a heart attack only two years after taking office.
Calvin Coolidge (1923-29) – Born in Plymouth, Vermont, married Grace Anna Goodhue. Assuming office upon the death of Warren Harding, he took the oath of office by kerosene lamp, administered by his father.
Herbert Hoover (1929-33) – Born in West Branch, Iowa, married Lou Henry. He assumed the presidency as the country suffered through the worst economic downturn in its history. He lost his reelection bid in 1932, becoming the scapegoat for the great depression.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45) – Born in Hyde Park, New York, married Anna Eleanor. He became the longest serving president, holding office for twelve years. His presidency spanned from the great depression to the end of World War II. As a result of his presidency, future presidents were limited to two terms in office by the 22nd amendment to the constitution.
Harry S Truman (1945-53) – Born in Lamar, Missouri, married Elizabeth Virginia Wallace. His administration included many significant highs and lows for the country and the world. He ordered the dropping of atomic bombs on hiroshima and Nagasaki which led to the surrender of japan. In June 1945 he attended ceremony when the charter of the United Nations was signed.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-61) – Born in Denison, Texas, married Mamie Geneva Doud. Before being elected president, he served his country as an army general, assuming the role of Supreme commander of troops invading France on D-Day in 1944.
John F. Kennedy (1961-63) – Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. As the youngest man elected to the presidency, his presidency faced greatest threat ever faced by the country or the world. During the Cuban missile crisis, the world faced the risk nuclear war. He became the youngest president to die in office when he was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. He became the first of three great men to die in the decade as his brother, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King also died at the hands of assassins.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-69) – Born in Stonewall, Texas, married Claudia Taylor (Lady Bird). His presidency succeeded in passing significant legislation while leading a war that tore the country apart, the Viet Nam War. In 1968, he congratulated the first men to reach the moon.
Richard M. Nixon (1969-74) – Born in Yorba Linda, California, married Patricia Ryan Nixon. In spite of major accomplishments during his presidency, he will be remembered most for being the first president to resign the position. Faced with impeachment, he resigned on August 8, 1974.
Gerald R. Ford (1974-77) – Born in Omaha, Nebraska, married Elizabeth Bloomer. Taking office after Nixon’s resignation, he was never elected president as he lost the election in 1976.
Jimmy Carter (1977-81) – Born in Plains, Georgia, married Rosalynn Smith. He oversaw the expansion of the national park system including 103 million acres of land in Alaska. On the day he left office, 52 Americans held hostage by Iran after 14 months of captivity.
Ronald W. Reagan (1981-89) – Born in Tampico, Illinois, married Nancy Davis. His administration had many domestic and international accomplishments including the negotiation of a treaty with the Soviet union to limit nuclear weapons. His would be the last administration to face the challenge of the cold war.
George Bush (1989-93) – Born in Milton, Massachusetts, married Barbara Pierce. His administration had many accomplishments. One of the most memorable and lasting events during his presidency was the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, as communist governments failed throughout the world.
William J. Clinton (1993-2001) – Born in Hope Arkansas, married Hillary Rodham. In spite of significant accomplishments, his second term ended with him being only the second president to be impeached. As with his predecessor, he was found not guilty by the senate.
George W. Bush (2001-present) – Born in Texas, married Laura Welch. The current president took office in 2001 and soon faced guiding the country through the greatest attack ever against the American homeland. The attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 prompted a major increase in American Patriotism and led to his campaign against terrorism.
Barack Obama (2009-2016) Born in Hawaii, married Michelle Robinson. 44th President of the United States. His story is the American story — values from the heartland, a middle-class upbringing in a strong family, hard work and education as the means of getting ahead, and the conviction that a life so blessed should be lived in service to others.
Donald Trump (2016-2020) – born in Queens, New York, married Melania Knauss. 45th President of the United States Without previous elected political experience, President Trump used unconventional methods to communicate his priorities. Most notably, he used the social media platform Twitter as a primary mechanism for direct communication with the American public, other politicians, and the press corps.
Joe Biden (2020-present) – born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, married Jill Jacobs. 45th President of the United States. At age 29, President Biden became one of the youngest people ever elected to the United States Senate. Just weeks after his Senate election, tragedy struck the Biden family when his wife Neilia and daughter Naomi were killed, and sons Hunter and Beau were critically injured, in an auto accident. Biden was sworn into the U.S. Senate at his sons’ hospital bedsides and began commuting from Wilmington to Washington every day, first by car, and then by train, in order to be with his family. He would continue to do so throughout his time in the Senate.
Biographical data credits:
The President biographies presented here are from the book
The Presidents of the United States of America
written by Frank Freidel and Hugh S. Sidey (contributing author),
published by the White House Historical Association
with the cooperation of the
National Geographic Society.