Which US Presidents Lived in a Log Cabin?

Replica log cabin of President James K. Polk's birthplace in North Carolina.
Replica log cabin of President James K. Polk's birthplace in North Carolina.

Log cabins are an American icon. Upon arriving in America, most pioneers preferred to dwell in log cabins as the continent had an endless supply of trees. The cabins consisted of horizontally laid logs interlocked with notches at the edges. In some cabins, nails were used to hold the logs together. Log cabins are considered an American icon as of the 44 United States presidents, at least nine of them were known to be born in log cabins. This imprinted the log cabins as an image of traditional Americana.

History of Log Cabins/American Pioneerism

In the United States, European settlers constructed the first log cabins in 1638. The very first log cabins constructed in North America were in the Swedish colony of Nya Sverige. The cabin designs greatly varied in different parts of United States. The differences were mainly in the sizes of the cabins, roofing types, and the orientation of the doors and windows. The purlin roof structure or the rafter roof structure was common.

Symbolism of Log Cabins

Since the early 19th century, the log cabin serves as a symbol of humble origins in the US Politics. At least nine US presidents were born in log cabins. During the 1840 presidential election, William Harrison and the Whigs used a log cabin for the first time. He did this as a sign to show North Americans that he was indeed a man of the people. Other candidates followed the example set by William Harrison. This made the log cabin or rather a non-wealthy background a common theme in many presidential campaigns. A century after Harrison, the presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson acknowledged that he was not born in a log cabin nor did he rise from rags to riches, or work hard through school. Upon this declaration, he lost greatly to Dwight Eisenhower.

US Presidents Born in Log Cabins

Presidents born in log cabins include:

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United States, was the first president to be born in a log cabin. He was born in a cabin located in Crawford Plantation in South Carolina in 1767. The plantation lay on the west side of the Appalachian Mountains making Jackson the first president to hail from that side of the range. The cabin no longer stands but a historical marker exists.

James K. Polk

James Knox Polk served as the 11th president of the United States. He was born in 1795 in a log cabin on a family farm in North Carolina, the first of 10 children. A reconstruction of the cabin stands on the site today.

Zachary Taylor

Zachary was the 12th president of the United States and was born in a cabin on Montebello plantation in Virginia in 1784. A historical marker stands at the site near the present day Gordonsville. However, the Montebello plantation is currently under private ownership thus not open to the public.

Millard Fillmore

Millard was the 13th president of the United States. He was born in a cabin in Moravia, New York. The original cabin no longer exists as it came down in 1852. However, a replica of the cabin exists in at Fillmore Glen State Park in New York.

Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce served as the 14th US president. His father had purchased 50 acres of land in Hillsborough, New Hampshire after the American Revolutionary War. Pierce was born in a log cabin built on the land in 1804.

James Buchanan

Born in Pennsylvania in a cabin close to Stony Batter Complex and Cove Gap area, Buchanan was the 15th president of the United States. Currently, a state park exists where the cabin stood. The cabin did not survive the centuries but a memorial pyramid made of stone symbolizes the cabin.

Abraham Lincoln

One of the most popular presidents born in a cabin was Abraham Lincoln. He was born in 1809 to Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln who welcomed the baby in a cabin located on the Sinking Spring Farm. The family lived in the cabin for two years before moving to Knob creek farm in 1811. Lincoln servered as the 16th President of the United States.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th president of the United States. He was born in the year 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio. A restored structure of the modest three-roomed cottage where Grant was born still exists in Ohio.

James Garfield

Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, was the last of the US Log cabins presidents. He was born in a log cabin situated close to the Orange Township in 1831. While other presidents moved from their birthplaces during childhood, Garfield remained with his family until 1859. A replica of the original cabin stands at the site to date.


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