The Top 45 Presidents In US History

Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Obama, Trump. Do you want to know more about the history of the United States of America and the different heads of state who have succeeded in the White House? Here is the list of American presidents. On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden won the US presidential elections by dethroning his opponent, outgoing President Donald Trump. He thus becomes the 46th President of the United States of America since the ratification of the American Constitution of 1787.

But who were the previous tenants who stayed at the White House? To find out, we invite you to come back in detail to the various historical figures who have embodied the presidential office over more than three centuries of history. From George Washington to Barack Obama, including Abraham Lincoln and JFK, here is the chronological list of the 46 presidents of the United States.

George Washington, the first President of the United States of America

Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, George Washington is considered a hero of the United States of America’s War of Independence against the United Kingdom. Coming from a rich family of planters in Virginia, his talents as a speaker and his charisma with the soldiers allowed him to embark on a great military and political career. Belonging to the closed circle of the Founding Fathersof the United States, in 1789 he became the first to hold the office of President and was reappointed four years later.

John Adams

Vice-President of the United States during George Washington’s two terms of office, John Adams ascended to the presidency in a tense geopolitical climate. The “quasi-war” between the Americans and the French during his mandate is a serious blow to relations between the two countries, but at the same time allows to display a certain neutrality vis-à-vis the other European powers.

Thomas Jefferson

Co-founder and president of the Republican-Democratic Party (current Democratic Party), Thomas Jefferson greatly contributed to the drafting of the Declaration of Independence of 1776. Fervent defender of the ideas of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, his first term as president was crowned with success, especially when he managed to buy French Louisiana in 1803. Thus, the United States obtained vast expanses of territory of more than 200 million hectares, equivalent to nearly a quarter of its current area.

James Madison

United States Secretary of State under President Thomas Jefferson, James Madison is best known for his contributions to the United States Constitution of 1787, particularly on the First Ten Amendments to the Bill of Rights. His two presidential terms were disrupted by the Anglo-American War (1812-1815) for control of the British Canadian colonies and the Great Lakes region. The federal capital Washington is besieged and then burned down, and the conflict ends with a status quo.

James Monroe

Former Secretary of State during Madison’s presidential term, James Monroe largely won the election of 1816. Opposed to the federalist candidate Rufus King, the latter’s rout is indicative of the fall into disuse of the original American party founded by George Washington. The end of his first term was tarnished by a serious financial crisis in 1819, which had serious consequences on the image and the confidence placed in banks. James Monroe is mainly known today by the doctrine eponymous, which finds its roots in a speech of the president in 1823 which condemns the European interventions in the colonization of the American continent and of a possible stranglehold on the affairs of the United States. Can be summarized by “America to the Americans”, it implies in the same sense that the United States must maintain a neutrality vis-à-vis the powers of Europe.

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams is the former Secretary of State to President James Monroe, but also the son of Second President of the United States John Adams. Prior to his assumption of the presidency, he was mainly recognized for his work as a diplomatand ambassador. The presidential campaign of 1824 was marked by numerous quarrels within the Republican Democratic Party, which resulted in a split between supporters of John Quincy Adams and those of Andrew Jackson.

Andrew Jackson

Orphaned during the American War of Independence, Andrew Jackson rose one by one through the ranks of military command. He was one of the instigators of the split from the Republican Democratic Party of 1825, and the first candidate of the Democratic Party. Despite the death of his wife Rachel a few weeks after his inauguration, the one nicknamed Old Hickory (“Old Walnut”) in reference to his inflexible character and his severity ascended to the presidency during the elections of 1828. There are must read books about Andrew Jackson and his life.

Martin Van Buren

Coming from a family from the Netherlands, Martin Van Buren entered politics in parallel with his legal career. Vice-president of the United States between 1833 and 1837, he succeeded Andrew Jackson by winning the presidential election against his future successor William Henry Harrison. From the start of his mandate he faced the banking panic of 1837 and the resulting financial crisis, direct consequences of the laissez-faire policy of his predecessor.

William Henry Harrison

Former Governor of Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison is best known for his military career and his involvement in the Indian Wars. During the Battle of Tippecanoe, he commanded a battalion of a thousand infantrymen against a coalition of tribes fighting against the privatization of their lands by the settlers. Having become a general, he also distinguished himself in several theaters of operations during the Anglo-American war.

John Tyler

Former governor of Virginia turned senator, John Tyler became, following the presidential election of 1940, the vice-president of the late William Henry Harrison. The latter having died only thirty days after his inauguration speech, an institutional crisis arises because of numerous breaches in the Constitution of the United States. At the time, it did not provide for a clearly defined order of succession in the event of dismissal, resignation or in this specific case of death of the President during his mandate.

James Knox Polk

Former lawyer and governor of the state of Tennessee, James Knox Polk is in many ways seen as Andrew Jackson’s spiritual heir. His presidency is marked by a strong expansionist policy, which is in line with his predecessors while relying on the concept of ” manifest destiny “, an idea according to which the conquest of new territories was a divine duty for United States. Characterized among other things by the annexation of Texas in 1845, it resulted in the outbreak of the American-Mexican War (1846-1848)and the acquisition of new land in the southwest.

Zachary Taylor

A former war hero who participated in the military campaigns against the Amerindians and especially in the American-Mexican conflict during the decisive battle of Monterrey, Zachary Taylor was elected president while his popularity was at its peak. His first year at the head of the country was eventful, in particular because of the need to administer the new territories acquired following the war against Mexico, namely the future states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Having always suffered from recurring health problems, Taylor did not complete his second year in office as head of the United States, having died of a stomach disorder on July 9, 1850 at the age of 65 years old.

Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore, as Vice President Zachary Taylor, takes his place following the latter’s death. He is the second vice-president after John Tyler to take on this responsibility. His mandate mainly retained his support for the compromise of 1850 made between the northern and southern states when California entered, located in the south but wishing to abolish slavery, within the Union. Like the Missouri Compromise of 1820, it crystallized new differences of opinion and interests between the slavers, who demanded a return of the escaped slaves to the northern territories, and the abolitionists.

Franklin Pierce

Former representative and senator from New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce won the presidential elections of 1852 in a particularly tense climate on questions of slavery. To make matters worse, his youngest son died in front of his eyes in a train derailment shortly before his inauguration as president, plunging Pierce into a deep depression. His concern vis-à-vis abolitionist positions led him to take decisions that largely favor the territories of the South, to the detriment of those of the North who quickly feel aggrieved. The most obvious example being the Kansas-Nebraska law, which repeals the Missouri Compromise by giving the people the choice of whether or not to apply slavery in their state or territory.

James Buchanan

Secretary of State during the presidential term of James K. Polk a decade earlier, James Buchanan is seen by many as one of the worst American presidents in history. Although he suffered from the questionable political decisions and harmful to national unity that were taken by his predecessors, Buchanan and his administration were unable to take the right steps to put out the blaze. The growing opposition between abolitionists in the North and slavers in the South is stronger than ever during his presidency.

Abraham Lincoln

Candidate of the young Republican Party and the first to reach the White House, the election of Abraham Lincoln was the trigger for the Civil War. Not recognizing Lincoln’s election, especially for his anti-slavery convictions, the Southern States decide to secede by forming the Confederate States of America. Although this four-year-long civil war (between 1961 and 1965) was the deadliest in American history, most of the decisions Lincoln made went a long way in limiting losses. Wishing more than anything to reintegrate the secessionist territories into the Union and guarantee national unity, he was assassinated with a bullet in the head on April 15, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth. There are several movies about this president which you have to see at least once in your lifetime.

Andrew Johnson

Vice-president of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson has the difficult task of taking over from the latter following his assassination and rebuilding a country ravaged by four years of civil war. A former senator from Tennessee at the outbreak of the Civil War, he is one of the few politicians to wish for a rapprochement with the Union when he depends on a southern state favorable to slavery.

Ulysses S. Grant

A career soldier, Ulysses S. Grant rose to the top of the military command during the Civil War. Appointed general-in-chief of the Union armies by Lincoln in 1863 thanks to his numerous victories, he is renowned for his qualities as a leader of men and for the violence of his combat strategies. Opposed on multiple occasions to the Confederate troops of General Robert E. Lee, he managed to obtain the latter’s surrender during the Battle of Appomattox. Ulysses Grant’s first term as head of the country is an opportunity to strengthen laws favorable to the inclusion of freed African Americans in society.

Rutherford Birchard Hayes

Former Ohio Governor Rutherford Birchard Hayes fought alongside the Union during the war but did not achieve the same reputation as his predecessor Ulysses Grant. His election is one of the most controversial in the history of American presidents, given that he is elected with 285 voters against 254 for his opponent Samuel Jones Tilden but the latter obtained 51% of the vote. The democratic states in the South agree to recognize his victory in exchange for stopping military expeditions whose mission is to enforce the laws protecting African Americans.

James Abram Garfield

Having served for nearly 18 years in the House of Representatives, James Abram Garfield won the presidential election of 1880, one of the tightest with just 2,000 votes behind Democratic candidate Winfield Scott Hancock. Strengthening the social gains of African Americans is one of Garfield’s main campaign goals, notably with the proposal for an inclusive education system inspired by his predecessor Rutherford B. Hayes.

Chester Alan Arthur

Vice-president of the late James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur takes the presidency when the latter dies of his wounds a few weeks after his assassination attempt. A fierce opponent of the corruption present within public administrations, he affirmed his intention to reform the system in depth by proposing the Pendleton Act in 1883. Despite his opposition, several laws were passed by the Senate to limit the civil rights of blacks and for restrict immigration.

Grover Cleveland

Former Governor of the State of New York, Grover Cleveland has the distinction of having been elected in two non-consecutive presidential elections. He is thus the 22nd President of the United States between 1885 and 1889, then the 24th from 1893 to 1897, a performance which he is the only one to have accomplished. He is also the first Democratic Party candidate to reach the White House via elections since James Buchanan in 1857 and the Civil War.

Benjamin Harrison

Former serviceman and senator from Indiana, Benjamin Harrison won the 1888 presidential election against incumbent President Grover Cleveland. The Hamilton County native is following in the footsteps of his grandfather William Henry Harrison, President of the United States who died from illness a month after his inauguration. Benjamin Harrison’s tenure is hectic. Six new territories join the Union, namely North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington State, Wyoming and finally Idaho, a record for a single term.

William McKinley

Former governor of Ohio having sat in the House of Representatives, William McKinley is at the origin of the increase in tariffs by the adoption of the McKinley Tariff in 1890. Became President of the United States seven years later, the beginning of his mandate was marked by the Spanish-American War of 1898. It results in the independence of the island of Cubaand the passage of former Spanish ultra-marine territories under American control, such as the territory of Puerto Rico.

Theodore Roosevelt

Lieutenant-colonel of cavalry during the Spanish-American war of 1898, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was named vice-president by William McKinley during his final mandate. Following the latter’s death, he was finally appointed as his successor in the White House. He is the youngest president in U.S. history and the first vice president to be elected president for a second term, a testament to his great popularity.

William Howard Taft

Secretary of the War Department during Theodore Roosevelt’s second term, William Howard Taft has always favored the practice of law over politics. Elected president in the 1908 elections, one of the main measures taken in his sole term concerned the introduction of income tax via the 16th amendment to the Constitution. Its foreign policy is in the continuity of its predecessor, while focusing more on economic investments and on the development of the United States on the international scene. She’s nicknamed ” dollar policy”.

Woodrow Wilson

Former Governor of New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson becomes President of the United States in a tense international context. A convinced pacifist aspiring to a world devoid of conflicts, he focused from the start of his mandate on Mexico, plagued from within by military uprisings during the decade 1910-1920. Initially wishing to avoid his country’s involvement in World War I, the American troops intervene on the European continent from April 1917. This difficult decision for Wilson is partly following the alliance project by the German Empire with Mexico, with in exchange the possibility of recovering the lost territories during the Mexican-American war.

Warren Gamaliel Harding

Ohio State Senator from 1915 until his election as president, Warren Gamaliel Harding sharply broke with the progressive policies of his elders. His first years at the head of the country marked the return of strict anti-immigration laws and increased customs duties. Harding seemed to lose interest in the presidential office and not hold it very important, preferring to indulge in his passions like golf or poker.

Calvin Coolidge

As vice-president of Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge succeeded him following his death in order to complete his term until the presidential elections of 1924. Even if the latter were won by Coolidge, the death of his son left profound consequences and had repercussions on the character of the politician. He entrusted economic affairs to Herbert Hoover, Secretary of Commerce and his future successor at the White House.

Herbert Hoover

Secretary of Commerce of the United States during the presidency of Clavin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover takes up his new post in the year when the economic health of the country is at its lowest in a decade. At the end of October 1929, the crash and the explosion of the speculative bubble herald the Great Depression. Despite many measures taken, Hoover is failing to contain the effects of the financial crisis, which is taking a heavy toll on unemployment and poverty figures.

Franklin Delanoe Roosevelt

Former Governor of the State of New York, Franklin Delano Roosevelt has common ancestors with former President Theodore Roosevelt. His main mission when he entered the White House is to find solutions to the economic slump of the Great Depression. His intentions to rethink the foundations of the American economy were put forward from the start of his election campaign. A new interventionist program capable of regulating the economy, the ” New Deal”, is quickly implemented.

Harry S. Truman

Vice-president of Franklin D. Roosevelt during his last mandate at the head of the country, Harry S. Truman succeeded him for the following years following his death. He was elected for a second term in the 1948 elections. It was under Truman’s presidency that the Second World War ended, following the dropping of the two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

General during the Second World War, the reputation of war hero of Dwight David Eisenhower allows him to be named supreme commander of NATO in 1951. Finally, he is invested by the Republican Party shortly after and wins the presidential election of 1952. Eisenhower’s two consecutive terms in the White House are an opportunity to relax relations with the Communist bloc. The task is difficult to set up, the ” Red Fear ” being increased tenfold by the policy of witch hunts against possible communist spies.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Having served in the United States Congress as a representative and then a senator, John Fitzgerald Kennedy (or JFK) is the youngest president to walk through the doors of the White House after an election. At 46, he had to face from the start of his mandate the failure of the Bay of Pigs landing in Cuba, intended to bring down the new government of Fidel Castro. The latter’s rapprochement with the USSR led to the most defining event of the Cold War, having almost led to a point of no return with the Americans and triggering a third world conflict.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Successor of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in the White House by virtue of his status as vice-president, Lyndon Baine Johnson completed the latter’s mandate and managed to be re-elected in 1964. His presidency was a turning point for the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King and African Americans more generally. Several laws were enacted between 1964 and 1968 to put an end to racial segregation, for example the Civil Rights Act (1964 and 1968) as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Lyndon Johnson makes poverty-related problems one of his main priorities.

Richard M. Nixon

Former vice-president of Eisenhower, Richard Nixon was defeated for the first time by Kennedy in the presidential elections of 1960 before being elected eight years later. It was only a few months after his inauguration that the Apollo 11 mission was crowned with success: astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to walk on the moon. Nixon’s tenure marks the peak of Leonid Brezhnev’s period of Relaxation and thawing of US-USSR relations. The arrival of American sportsmen on Chinese soil (an integral part of ” ping pong diplomacy”) is an opportunity for the administration to create a cordial understanding with the communist China of Mao Zedong.

Gerald Ford

Vice-president Richard Nixon when he resigned, Republican Gerald Ford was forced to take over in a complex climate. Despite the implementation of an embargo on exports of petroleum products to limit the effects of the 1973 shock, the United States must face worrying inflation. By pardoning former President Nixon of all charges related to the Watergate scandal, Ford definitely wants to move on and restore confidence in his party. This decision has been the subject of many questions and has not had a positive impact on relations between the president and Congress.

Jimmy Carter

Former Georgia Governor James Earl “Jimmy” Carter wins the 1976 election against incumbent President Gerald Ford. Like the latter, his only presidential mandate at the head of the country is marked by the consequences of inflation, in addition to the effects of a new oil shock, much more severe, in 1979. His qualities as a mediator and diplomat have in particular enabled the signing of the Camp David agree between Israel and Egypt.

Ronald Reagan

A prolific former actor from the early 1930s until the end of the 1950s, Ronald Reagan began his political career in 1967 when he was elected governor of California. His growing popularity within the Republican Party took him to the presidential elections of 1980, which he won against Jimmy Carter. To revive an economy in full inflation, he decides to take radical measures through a liberalist policy favorable to the development of large companies. The Reaganomicsare a success in terms of growth, but are also very largely responsible for increasing social inequalities and poverty for the most deprived.

George HW Bush

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations, George Herbert Walker Bush (Sr.) also served as Director of the CIA during Gerald Ford’s tenure. Having become president in his turn, he is part of Reagan’s continuity both economically and in foreign affairs. The year of his inauguration, the fall of the Berlin Wall was one of the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet regimes. It was also under the mandate of Bush Sr. that the Cold War ended following the breakup of the USSR in 1991.

William J. Clinton

Former Governor of Arkansas, Democrat William “Bill” Clinton won the 1992 election against incumbent President George HW Bush. His two-term presidency is complicated by the majority of Republicans in Congress and many bills are aborted. Solving the budget deficit inherited from Reagan’s policies is one of the main tasks of the Clinton administration. The consequences are generally positive and the United States is experiencing a period of economic prosperity until the early 2000s. Like Jimmy Carter before, Bill Clinton mediated in conflicts abroad, for example in the ratification of agreements. Oslo of 1993 in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Georges W. Bush

Former Texas Governor George Walter Bush is the eldest son of former President George HW Bush. The deadly attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center are a trauma for the entire population as its mandate has only just begun. He claims significant resources to fight against terrorist organizations, in particular the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda organization in Afghanistan, but also against weapons of mass destruction. Like his father before him, he implicated the United States in a new conflict against Iraq in 2003.

Barack Obama

Former Illinois Senator Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election against John McCain. He thus becomes the first African-American to sit in the Oval Office of the White House. The start of his mandate was eventful, mainly because of the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis, the effects of which he wanted to limit. Wishing to reform the American social protection which he considers too restrictive, he is at the origin of a law on the protection of patients and affordable care: ” Obamacare “. Opposed to the war in Iraq launched by Bush, the gradual withdrawal of American troops began in 2009 and ended in 2011.

Donald Trump

Businessman who made his fortune in real estate, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, wife of Bill Clinton. A controversial figure both in his positions and in his communication, he is particularly familiar with the use of social networks such as Twitter throughout his campaign and his mandate. Conservative on most matters of society, he is at the origin of strict measures concerning immigration. We can for example cite his project for a wall on the Mexican border and presidential decree 13769, which in 2017 banned the entry into American territory of nationals of Arab-Muslim countries with a high concentration of terrorists.

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