A List Of All The United States Presidents

By Kate Boland on June 12 2020 in Politics

President Obama appeared in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana on May 17, 2009. Image credit: Ron Foster Sharif/Shutterstock.com
President Obama appeared in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana on May 17, 2009. Image credit: Ron Foster Sharif/Shutterstock.com
  • George Washington, America's first president, is the only one not to belong to a political party.
  • The first Whig party president, William Henry Harrison died after serving just one month in office in 1841.
  • James Garfield’s tenure as American president was cut short by his assassination six months after assuming office

When the founding fathers of the United States devised the role of president, they created the most powerful elected official in history. Although enabled with the capacity to appoint Supreme Court justices, name executive branch officials, forge international treaties, and veto bills passed by congress during their tenure in office, executive authority is also tightly assigned to only those functions and responsibilities named in its Constitution. It is a difficult but clearly defined balance between executive powers and the republicanism ideal of autonomy for the individual states. 

History

A Committee of Five, composed of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston, drafted and presented to the Continental Congress what became known as the U.S. Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776.

Having won their independence from a constitutional monarchy, the American founders were keenly aware of the centuries of struggle between British parliament, religion, and the crown. England sought to resolve these issues by dividing the tasks into two separate offices. The dynastic monarch served as the ceremonial head of both the state and the Church of England, while the elected prime minister and parliament were tasked with the responsibility of governing the people. With the role of president, these responsibilities were amalgamated into one position.

When the delegates of the Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia in 1787, there was no clear decision as to who the chief executive officer of the United States would be, or what that rule would require. Some delegates felt the position should be appointed by Congress, while others We're concerned about putting so much power into the hands of one individual having just released themselves from the monarchy. In the end the role and responsibilities of the presidency was agreed upon and set out Article II Section 1 of the American Constitution

Duties

Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only US President who served more than two consecutive terms in office.

The creation of the role of President of the United States was unique for its time, and became an example for new forms of government throughout the world.  The president functions as the nation's chief administrator, functioning  at once as it's commander-in-chief of the military, leader of a political party, and the chief executive officer of the federal government. The president is simultaneously the symbolic head of state of the nation, a prominent figure at global events, ceremonies of historical importance, and an embodiment of the core values American society. 

In this multifaceted role, duties include the power to enact or veto legislation, negotiate & treaties with foreign powers, issue executive orders,and to pardon or extend clemency for federal crimes.  

The founding fathers were mindful, however,  not to create power without limit such as exists in an absolute monarchy. The United States Congress can override a presidential veto if it achieves a two-thirds vote within both houses.  International treaties with other nations must be ratified by the Senate with a majority of 2/3 votes before they can come into effect, and presidential pardons cannot include impeachment. A president's tenure is also limited to two terms as per the 22nd Amendment which was signed in 1951.  While the position has existed since the 18th century, in fact only one president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt,  has ever served more than two terms. Although elected three times to the office of the presidency, Roosevelt died before he could complete his final term. Following his death the 22nd Amendment limiting presidential terms was passed.

Election

Democracy was central to the new American republic form of government. Its leaders would not inherit their power as they had in the House of Lords or the monarchy. Rather, members would be elected for a designated term in a manner inspired by the Roman senate. The position of president of the United States, however,  is not directly elected by the voting public. This task falls to the Electoral College. Every four years, on the first Tuesday in November, voting citizens select Electoral College members, With one member for each Congressional Delegation has apportioned by the population within the 50 states. At present, there are 538 electors within the Electoral College, and it is these electors who then cast their votes for the presidential nominees. 

Qualifications

According to the Constitution, there are only three qualifications necessary for the position of the president of the United States.  The candidate must be a natural born citizen, 35 years of age, and have resided in the United States for a minimum of 14 years before becoming the commander-in-chief. There is no requirement to belong to a political party,  although the first president, George Washington, is the only president not officially linked to a political party and John Adams, the second American president, was the first and only to be associated with the Federalist party. 

As for career paths, the majority of US presidents first served their country working in the field of law. There have been twenty-six lawyers to become president, with Franklin Pierce sworn into office using a book of law rather than the Bible. Seven presidents first held a career in the military before going into politics, while others were first successful business executives in industries ranging from oil to agriculture, to the tailor Andrew Johnson.  Only two presidents, James Garfield and Lyndon Johnson were school teachers before becoming president, although many went on to teach at universities after their tenure..

To date, 45 individuals have undertaken this role and responsibility. Following is a list of the American presidents, their terms in office, and political affiliations.

A List Of All The United States Presidents

PresidencyPresidentParty Vice President
1789-1797George WashingtonUnaffiliatedJohn Adams
1797 -1801John AdamsFederalistThomas Jefferson
1801-1809Thomas JeffersonDemocratic - RepublicanAaron Burr & George Clinton
1809-1817James MadisonDemocratic - RepublicanGeorge Clinton & Elbridge Gerry
1817-1825James MonroeDemocratic - RepublicanDaniel D. Tompkins
1825-1829John Quincy AdamsDemocratic - RepublicanJohn C. Calhoun
1829-1837Andrew JacksonDemocratic John C. Calhoun & Martin Van Buren
1837 -1841Martin Van BurenDemocratic Richard Mentor Johnson
1841-1841William Henry HarrisonWhig John Tyler
1841-1845John TylerWhig Vacant
1845-1849James K. PolkDemocraticGeorge M. Dallas
1849-1850Zachary TaylorWhig Millard Fillmore
1850-1853Millard FillmoreWhig Vacant
1853-1857Franklin PierceDemocraticWilliam R. King
1857-1861James BuchananDemocratic John C. Breckinridge
1861-1865Abraham LincolnRepublican & National UnionHannibal Hamlin & Andrew Johnson
1865-1869Andrew JohnsonNational UnionVacant
1869-1877Ulysses S. GrantRepublicanSchuyler Colfax & Henry Wilson
1877-1881Rutherford B. HayesRepublicanWilliam A. Wheeler
1881-1881James A. GarfieldRepublicanChester A. Arther
1881-1885Chester A. ArthurRepublicanVacant
1885-1889Grover ClevelandDemocraticThomas A. Hendricks
1889-1893Benjamin HarrisonRepublican Levi P. Morton
1893-1897Grover ClevelandDemocraticAdlai Stevenson I
1897 - 1901William McKinleyRepublican Garret Hobart & Theodore Roosevelt
1901-1909Theodore RooseveltRepublicanCharles W. Fairbanks
1909-1913William Howard TaftRepublicanJames S. Sherman
1913-1921Woodrow WilsonDemocraticThomas R. Marashall
1921-1923 Warran G. HardingRepublican Calvin Coolidge
1923-1929 Calvin CoolidgeRepublican Charles G. Dawes
1929-1933Herbert HooverRepublican Charles Curtis
1933-1945Franklin D. RooseveltDemocratic John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace & Harry S. Truman
1945-1953Harry S. TrumanDemocraticAlben W. Barkley
1953-1961Dwight D. EisenhowerRepublicanRichard Nixon
1961-1963John F. Kennedy Democratic Lyndon B. Johnson
1963-1969Lyndon B. JohnsonDemocratic Hubert Humphrey
1969-1974Richard NixonRepublican Spiro Agnew & Gerarld Ford
1974-1977Gerald FordRepublican Nelson Rockefeller
1977-1981Jimmy CarterDemocratic Walter Mondale
1981-1989Ronald ReaganRepublican George H.W. Bush
1989-1993George H.W. BushRepublicanDan Quayle
1993-2001Bill Clinton Democratic Al Gore
2001-2009George W. BushRepublicanDick Cheney
2009-2017Barack ObamaDemocraticJoe Biden
2017-Donald TrumpRepublican Mike Pence

More in Politics

worldatlas.com

WorldAtlas