Politics

Presidents of the United States

By the CNN Library

Updated 11:10 AM ET, Mon February 20, 2017
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George Washington was the first President of the United States, serving from 1789 to 1797. He also served as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, and he has the distinction of being the only President unanimously elected by the Electoral College. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The second U.S. President, John Adams, served from 1797 to 1801. He was also the first vice president of the United States, and he was the first President to reside in the White House, moving in on November 1, 1800, while the White House was still under construction. Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
Thomas Jefferson, the third President (1801-1809), was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. While President, Jefferson doubled the size of the United States by purchasing the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. MPI/Getty Images
James Madison, the fourth President (1809-1817), was nicknamed the "Father of the Constitution." During his presidency, the first formal declaration of war was enacted -- the War of 1812 with Great Britain. Fotosearch/Getty Images
James Monroe (1817-1825) was the last of the Founding Fathers to be elected President. During his seventh State of the Union address, he outlined a foreign policy that warned European powers against further colonization of or meddling in the Western Hemisphere. This was later known as the Monroe Doctrine. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) was the son of second President John Adams. He was the only President to serve in the House of Representatives after serving as President. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) was the only President to serve in both the American Revolution and the War of 1812. He is also the only President to have been a former prisoner of war: Jackson was 13 when became a courier during the Revolutionary War, and he was later captured by the British. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Martin Van Buren (1837-1841) was the first President to be born a U.S. citizen. Previous Presidents were born before the United States was a country, making them colonists and, consequently, citizens of Great Britain. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
William Henry Harrison (1841) probably had only just finished unpacking his things at the White House when he died of pneumonia one month into his term. Harrison was the first U.S. President to die while in office, and he had the shortest tenure ever of any commander-in-chief. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
John Tyler's term (1841-1845) saw several presidential firsts. He was the first vice president to succeed office after the President died, he was the first to lose his wife while in office, and he was the first to marry while in office. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
James K. Polk (1845-1849) oversaw the greatest expansion of territory of any President in history. The expansion included what would become the future states of Texas and California. Polk also negotiated with Britain to establish the boundaries of the Oregon Country. Mathew Brady/Getty Images
Zachary Taylor (1849-1850), aka "Old Rough and Ready," was a hero in the Mexican-American War. Mystery surrounds his actual cause of death from a stomach ailment. Did he just eat too many cherries, or was it murder? The 1991 exhumation of his body proved it wasn't arsenic poisoning at least. National Archives/Getty Images
Millard Fillmore (1850-1853) was the last President who was neither a Democrat or a Republican. He helped pass the Compromise of 1850, legislation that included the Fugitive Slave Act and California's admission to the Union as a free state. Getty Images
Franklin Pierce (1853-1857) was the first President to not get his party's nomination for re-election. He signed the controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed the people there to decide whether to allow slavery. This worsened the tension between the North and South. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
James Buchanan (1857-1861) was the only President who never married. He failed to prevent seven pro-slavery states from seceding during his term. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865), purveyor of tall top hats and log cabins, preserved the Union during the Civil War and freed the slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation. He was assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Andrew Johnson's (1865-1869) trial by impeachment in the U.S. Senate resulted in his acquittal by a single vote. History gives him a terrible performance review: His plan for post-war Reconstruction failed, and he had little support from Congress or the public. Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
Tasked with unifying the country after the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) established the Department of Justice to protect the rights of freed slaves. He also authorized the military to fight the Ku Klux Klan and successfully lobbied for the 15th Amendment, granting voting rights to black men. MPI/Getty Images
Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) promoted women's rights, signing legislation that allowed female lawyers to argue Supreme Court cases. He introduced the White House Easter Egg Roll as a spring tradition and established the first presidential library. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Just four months into his term, James Garfield (1881) was shot by a disgruntled lawyer who'd aspired to join the administration as a diplomat. The President was taken to the Jersey Shore, where doctors hoped the ocean air would help him recover. He died two weeks later. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Chester Arthur (1881-1885) signed a bill mandating a merit-based system for hiring public workers. The idea was to curb patronage and politically motivated appointments. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Grover Cleveland (1885-1889; 1893-1897) was the first and only commander-in-chief to serve two non-consecutive terms. He was also the first bachelor President to be married at the White House. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) signed into law the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which authorized the government to fine large corporations for price fixing and other corrupt business practices. Fotosearch/Getty Images
William McKinley (1897-1901) led the country through the Spanish-American War, a three-month conflict that began with the sinking of the USS Maine and ended with Cuban independence. During the beginning of McKinley's second term, he was fatally shot by an anarchist. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
At 42, Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) was the youngest man to take the oath of office. A progressive reformer and environmental advocate, Roosevelt brought lawsuits against corporate trusts, taking on business giants to level the playing field for the working class. Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
William Howard Taft (1909-1913) also served as the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in his post-presidency years. During his re-election bid, he managed to win only eight of 531 electoral votes -- the poorest performance of an incumbent president seeking re-election. Getty Images
Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize for proposing and creating the League of Nations. But he was never able to convince the United States to join. Although he was first opposed to a federal amendment allowing women to vote, Wilson shifted his position during his second term and the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Warren G. Harding's term (1921-1923) was cut short by his sudden death from a cerebral hemorrage. Harding captured 60% of the popular vote in 1920, marking the largest presidential landslide to date. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) served as vice president until the death of Warren G. Harding. His 1924 campaign slogan was "Keep Cool with Coolidge," and his nickname was "Silent Cal" because of his reputation as a man of few words. General Photographic Agency/Getty Images
Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) was inaugurated on the year of the stock market crash that sent the country into the Great Depression. Although Hoover pushed for money to be appropriated for large-scale projects, he opposed federal relief payments directly to individuals. The national economy never recovered during his term, and the shantytowns that developed were nicknamed "Hoovervilles." Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) was the only President elected to the office four times. During his 12 years as President, he championed numerous social programs and measures, including the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Civilian Conservation Corps and Social Security. Roosevelt contracted polio at age 39 and never recovered the use of his legs. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) served as vice president for 82 days before the unexpected death of Roosevelt. He authorized the use of two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Keystone/Getty Images
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) had been supreme commander of the European Allied forces during World War II, and he ordered the Normandy invasion on D-Day. His popular presidential campaign slogan was "I like Ike!" M. McNeill/Fox Photos/Getty Images
John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) was the first Roman Catholic President. He was assassinated in his first term, which was marked by the signing of the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, the creation of the Peace Corps, the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, and the beginning of military involvement in Vietnam. Keystone/Getty Images
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) was vice president under John F. Kennedy and took the oath of office on a plane after Kennedy was assassinated. In 1964, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, the landmark legislation that banned segregation and discrimination based on race and gender. The law was a cornerstone of Johnson's vision of a "Great Society" that also included a "war on poverty." Cecil Stoughton/AFP/Getty Images
Richard Nixon (1969-1974) became the first President to resign from office as he faced impeachment for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Nixon made strides in domestic policy, proposing legislation that resulted in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Abroad, he established relations with China and a détente in Soviet relations. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Gerald Ford (1974-1977) had been appointed vice president by Nixon after Spiro Agnew was forced to resign. He then became President when Nixon himself resigned. Remembered mainly for his pardon of Nixon and his physical clumsiness, Ford was not elected to a second term. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) brokered the 1978 Camp David Accords, the agreement that led to a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. At home, Carter's presidency was plagued by inflation and unemployment, and he lost his bid for a second term amid the hostage crisis in Iran. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) was the only actor ever elected President, and his talent as a speaker earned him the moniker "the great communicator." An affable Republican who wooed many Roosevelt Democrats, the staunchly anti-communist Reagan is seen as having played a large part in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan Library/Getty Images
George H.W. Bush (1989-1993) was a former CIA director and served two terms as vice president under Ronald Reagan. His approval rating at home soared after he led an international coalition to oust Iraq from Kuwait, and communism in Eastern Europe fell on his watch. But he lost his bid for re-election amid a sluggish economy and after reneging on a promise not to raise taxes. Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Image
Bill Clinton (1993-2001) ran on the slogan, "It's the economy, stupid." Plagued by various scandals -- including accusations of sexual impropriety -- he was the second president to be impeached. He was acquitted in 1999. Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images
George W. Bush (2001-2009) is the son of former President George H.W. Bush. His presidency was largely defined by his response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In 2003, he ordered the invasion of Iraq on suspicion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Barack Obama (2009-2017) became the first African-American to hold the office of President. He took the oath of office amid the Great Recession, the biggest economic challenge since the Great Depression. Under the Affordable Healthcare Act, millions of uninsured Americans have gotten health insurance. Getty Images
Real estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump was sworn into office in 2017. His slogan "Make America Great Again," became the central theme of his campaign. White House Photo