Washington • Lincoln • FDR
Jefferson • Jackson •
Polk • T. Roosevelt •
Wilson • Truman
J. Adams • Monroe •
Cleveland • McKinley •
Eisenhower • JFK • LBJ
Tyler • Taylor •
Fillmore • Coolidge
Pierce • Buchanan •
A. Johnson • Grant •
Harding • Hoover • Nixon
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., 1996
5. T. Roosevelt
14. J. Adams
• • •
39. A. Johnson
William J. Ridings, Jr. & Stuart B. McIver, 1997
Washington • Jefferson •
Lincoln • FDR
Jackson • T. Roosevelt •
Wilson • Truman
J. Adams • Madison •
Monroe • J. Q. Adams •
Polk • Cleveland •
Eisenhower • JFK • LBJ
Tyler • Taylor • Fillmore • Pierce • Buchanan •
A. Johnson • Coolidge • Nixon
Grant • Harding
William A. McClenaghan, 1997
5. T. Roosevelt
5. A. Johnson
James MacGregor Burns, et al., 2000
• Clearly important accomplishment which produced decidedly positive results (immediate and eventual) affecting
widespread America; highly praised among historians with little or no exception.
• Historically noteworthy event; however, historians bestow mixed judgments regarding the outcomes, or the effects
are inherently awkward to assign any sort of blanket evaluation.
• Represents major shortcoming within this presidential administration; the action is routinely questioned or openly
criticized by historians due to evident flaws.
George Washington Federalist / Virginia (ST)|
During most of George Washington's presidency, no real two-party political system existed. The Constitution made no provision whatever for political parties. While its framers recognized that reasonable disagreement and organized debate were healthy components in a democratic society, creation of permanent factions was an extreme to be avoided. (The consensus among the founding fathers was that political parties were potentially dangerous because they divided society, became dominated by narrow special interests, and placed mere party loyalty above concern for the common welfare.) Hence, to identify Washington with the Federalist Party is an ex post facto distinction. Accordingly, Washington's first "election" is more accurately described as a "placement"; his second election was procedural only. The first presidential challenge whereby the citizenry genuinely expressed choice between candidates affiliated with two separate parties occurred in 1896, when John Adams won the honor of following in Washington's footsteps.
"I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may
not hereafter be drawn into precedent."
President George Washington
• Established presidential Cabinet
• Bill of Rights adopted (1791)
• Implemented Alexander Hamilton's superb economic plan
• Whiskey Rebellion (1794)
• Jay's Treaty (1795)
• Pinckney's Treaty / Treaty of San Lorenzo (1795)
• Two-party political system began to take shape during second term
• Delivered memorable Farewell Address
FUN FACT #1: Washington's second inaugural address was the shortest in history, containing only 135 words!
FUN FACT #2: The infamous "cherry tree" story is the creation of a biographer; it's pure bunk!
John Adams Federalist / Massachusetts (ST)
"...always an honest man, often a wise one, but sometimes and in some things,
absolutely out of his senses."
• XYZ Affair (1797) → Quasi-War
• Alien and Sedition Acts (1798) → Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
• Judiciary Act of 1801 → appointed so-called "midnight judges"
FUN FACT #1: Adams was the first President to live in the White House!
FUN FACT #2: Abigail Adams was an outspoken women's rights advocate!
Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican / Virginia (ST)
The Democratic-Republican Party arose in response to what many Americans viewed as a Federalist Party becoming increasingly neglectful of public interest. While members of the new party called themselves "Republicans," they are not related to the modern Republican Party but instead are considered by many historians the rudiment of today's Democratic Party. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison provided strong early leadership for the Democratic-Republicans. In the so-called "Revolution of 1800," the electorate ousted the distant, monarchical-acting Federalists in favor of comfortable, old-fashioned democratic principles championed by the Democratic-Republicans.
"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain
President Thomas Jefferson
• Elected via "Revolution of 1800" → soothing Inaugural Address
• Marbury v. Madison (1803)
• Purchased Louisiana from France (1803) → Lewis & Clark Expedition
• Dealt with piracy of North African Arab countries
• Weathered Aaron Burr's shenanigans
• Embargo Act of 1807
FUN FACT #1: Among Jefferson's several inventions are the swivel chair and dumbwaiter!
FUN FACT #2: Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence!
James Monroe Democratic-Republican / Virginia (MD)
"He is a man whose soul might be turned wrong side outward, without discovering a
• Rush-Bagot Agreement (1817) → Convention of 1818
• First Seminole War (1818) → Adams-Onís Transcontinental Treaty (1819)
• Panic of 1819
• Missouri Compromise (1820)
• Monroe Doctrine (1823)
FUN FACT #1: Monroe proposed that Cabinet members wear uniforms, but the idea was never adopted!
FUN FACT #2: Monrovia, Liberia, is the only foreign capital city named for a President of the United States!
Andrew Jackson Democrat / Tennessee (CO)
Andrew Jackson thrust America into a democratic experience even more grass-roots than that of the Jeffersonians before him. Some historians are reluctant to trace the modern Democratic Party all the way back to Thomas Jefferson, preferring instead to credit Jackson as the present-day party's ancestral standard-bearer. Perhaps a suitable historical image of the Democratic Party would be a circle outlined by Jefferson, plenished by Jackson. Ironically, Jefferson did not care for Jackson's brash form of democracy, once calling Jackson a politically "dangerous man"; the puritanical John Quincy Adams (Jackson's predecessor and major opponent in the presidential elections of 1824 and 1828) referred to him as a "barbarian."
"If you have a job in your department that can't be done by a Democrat, then abolish
President Andrew Jackson
• Wide use of "spoils system" fixed it firmly upon American politics
• Peggy Eaton Affair (1828)
• "Tariff of Abominations" (1828) → defused Nullification Crisis
• Indian Removal Act (1830) → pursued policy with distasteful zest
• Worcester v. Georgia (1832)
• Sought to dissolve Bank of United States
• Whig Party created from several anti-Jackson elements (1834)
• Specie Circular (1836) → Panic of 1837
FUN FACT #1: Jackson was the target of the first presidential assassination attempt!
FUN FACT #2: "King Andrew" used the presidential veto more than his six predecessors combined!
William Henry Harrison Whig / Ohio (KT)
The Whig Party emerged during the early 1930s. It rejuvenated America's two-party system effectively eradicated by Andrew Jackson. The Whigs possessed great stores of wealth and talent (indeed, political giants John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster were all drawn into the ranks). However, a definitive party ideology was problematicthe single common element among the Whigs' varied membership was opposition to "King Andrew," hence placing the Whig Party in apparent clear conflict with the popular Jacksonian theme of glorification of the common man. The Whigs managed to overcome this ideological bump by portraying themselves as the party of economic prosperity, moral respectability, and social-welfare measures. Beginning with William Henry Harrison in 1840, the Whigs occupied four of a stretch of five presidencies, after which the party dissolved, many of its members defecting to the newly-formed Republican Party.
"...availability was the only ability sought by the Whigs."
Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton
• Died from complications due to pneumonia after one month in office
FUN FACT #1: Harrison is the first half of the only grandfather/grandson presidential combination!
FUN FACT #2: Harrison's inaugural speechhistory's longestwas 8,445 words and took nearly two hours to recite!
John Tyler Whig / Virginia (NG)
William Henry Harrison's death elevated Vice-President John Tyler into the highest office, the first time in the nation's history such action became necessary. While today the response to presidential vacancy is fixed by the Twenty-fifth Amendment, Harrison's early exit created quite a stir owing to the fact that the Constitution itself is noticeably abrupt regarding the roles and duties of the Vice-President. Thus, the door was opened wide for partisan politics to complicate the issue. Some people opposed straightforward replacement, insisting that Tyler should be addressed as "Acting President" or "Vice-President serving as President." Apparent simple questions caused debate. Should Tyler be paid the President's full salary? Should he be allowed to reside in the White House? His political foesTyler managed to alienate Democrats and Whigs (he aligned with both parties at one time or another, but lacked a base in either)referred to him as "His Accidency" and even moved (unsuccessfully) toward impeachment. All things considered, it's not surprising that Tyler's term was noted more for its political squabbling than for many meaningful accomplishments.
"In 1840 I was called from my farm to undertake the administration of public affairs
and I foresaw...a bed of thorns. I now leave that bed which has afforded me little
rest, and eagerly seek repose in the quiet enjoyments of rural life."
President John Tyler
• Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842)
• Treaty of Wang Hya (1844)
• Annexed Texas (1845) → triggered Mexican War
FUN FACT #1: At the outset of the Civil War, Tyler was elected to serve in the Confederate House of Representatives!
FUN FACT #2: Tyler's youngest and oldest daughters died a century apart!
Zachary Taylor Whig / Virginia (BC)
"If I occupy the White House, I must be untrammeled and unpledged, so as to be
President of the nation and not of a party."
General Zachary Taylor
• Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (1850)
• Stoutly opposed southern principles of states' rights & secessionism
FUN FACT #1: Taylor's son-in-law was Jefferson Davis, the Mississippi senator who became president of the Confederacy!
FUN FACT #2: Taylor died in office after serving only 16 months!
Millard Fillmore Whig / New York (AH)
"God knows that I detest slavery, but it is an existing evil, for which we are not
responsible, and we must endure it, and give it such protection as is guaranteed
by the Constitution, till we can get rid of it without destroying the last hope of free
government in the world."
President Millard Fillmore
• Compromise of 1850
• Sent Commodore Matthew Perry to seek relations with far-off Japan (1852)
FUN FACT #1: Vice-President Fillmore did not meet President-elect Zachary Taylor until after they had won the 1848 election!
FUN FACT #2: The first White House bathtub, kitchen stove, and library were installed during Fillmore's term!