In some ways, all 46 U.S. presidents have been very much alike. So far they’ve all been men, for one, not lacking in ambition or charisma, and with a certain knack for self-promotion and networking.
At the same time, each commander in chief brims with uniqueness. Read facts about every president, in order of their service, from a 19th-century hotshot with a taste for dueling to a 20th-century veteran who nearly died after being hit by anti-aircraft fire in World War II.
The American Founding Father bred hounds.
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images 1. (1789-1797): The first U.S. president and Revolutionary War hero was an George Washington enthusiastic dog breeder, particularly of hunting hounds, to which he gave names like “Sweet Lips” and “Drunkard.” 2. (1797-1801): Adams and his wife, Abigail, John Adams exchanged more than 1,100 letters over the course of their lengthy relationship. 3. (1801-1809): Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, in 1826, within hours of his “frenemy” John Adams. 4. (1809-1817): Madison was the James Madison shortest president at 5’4” and weighed barely over 100 pounds. 5. (1817-1825): Other than Washington, Monroe was the only president to ever run essentially unopposed, coasting to re-election in the 1820 race. James Monroe 6. (1825-1829): Years after leaving the White House, Quincy Adams argued a famous Supreme Court case that freed the captive Africans who had rebelled aboard the John Quincy Adams Amistad slave ship.
Andrew Jackson winning a pistol duel against Charles Dickinson.
North Wind Picture Archives/Alamy Photo 7. (1829-1837): Jackson once Andrew Jackson killed a man in a duel. 8. (1837-1841): Van Buren was the first president to be Martin Van Buren born an American. All previous presidents were originally British subjects, having been born prior to 1776. 9. (1841): Harrison lasted only 32 days in office, the William Henry Harrison shortest stint of any president. 10. (1841-1845): Tyler fathered 15 children, the most of any president. John Tyler 11. (1845-1849): During his term, Polk James K. Polk secretly purchased a number of enslaved children for his Mississippi cotton plantation. 12. (1849-1850): “Old Rough and Ready” Zachary Taylor never voted in an election prior to being on the ballot himself. 13. (1850-1853): Fillmore was the Millard Fillmore last Whig president; the party imploded soon after he left office. 14. (1853-1857): The only president from New Hampshire also attended college in New England—Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Franklin Pierce 15. (1857-1861): In 1853, while serving as minister to Great Britain, Buchanan helped draft the 1854 Ostend Manifesto, which advocated for an American invasion of Cuba. James Buchanan
Abe Lincoln, at 6'4," towered over fellow men.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images 16. (1861-1865): “Honest Abe,” the tallest president at 6’4”, may have had Abraham Lincoln Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes people to be very tall, thin and long limbed. 17. (1865-1869): Though one of the few presidents without a pet, Johnson apparently cared for a family of Andrew Johnson White House mice, which he called “the little fellows.” 18. (1869-1877): Civil War General Grant Ulysses S. Grant was invited to join Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on the fateful evening of April 14, 1865, but was forced to decline after he and his wife made plans to visit their children in New Jersey. 19. (1877-1881): Hayes was the first president to Rutherford B. Hayes have a telephone in the White House. 20. (1881): Garfield (who was the first known James A. Garfield left-handed president) was elected to the U.S. Senate, but he never served as Ohio senator because he then won the Republican nomination for president. 21. (1881-1885): Arthur was named in honor of Chester Abell, the doctor who delivered him. Chester A. Arthur 22. and 24. (1885-1889, 1893-1897): No president except Cleveland has ever served non-consecutive terms: He defeated James G. Blaine in 1884, lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888 (despite winning the popular vote), and then came back to defeat Harrison in 1892. Grover Cleveland 23. (1889-1893): Harrison was the first president to Benjamin Harrison hire a female White House staffer. 25. (1897-1901): McKinley’s likeness appears on the $500 bill, which was discontinued in 1969. William McKinley 26. (1901-1909): Roosevelt was the youngest president, taking office at age 42. Theodore Roosevelt
In this circa-1910 image, President William Howard Taft throws out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball Game.
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images 27. (1909-1913): Famous for his corpulence, Taft was the first president to William Howard Taft hurl the ceremonial first pitch at a Major League Baseball game. 28. (1913-1921): In a 1914 proclamation, Wilson Woodrow Wilson officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. 29. (1921-1923): Prior to taking office, Harding wrote a series of Warren G. Harding lurid love letters to his mistress, the wife of one of his best friends. 30. (1923-1929): A quiet man, Coolidge Calvin Coolidge purportedly replied, “You lose,” to a visitor who bet she could get at least three words out of him. 31. (1929-1933): An Iowa native who spent part of his boyhood in Oregon, Hoover was the first president to Herbert Hoover hail from west of the Mississippi River. 32. (1933-1945): The longest-serving commander-in-chief claimed to be Franklin D. Roosevelt distantly related to 11 other presidents, including his fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt. 33. (1945-1953): The “S” in Harry S. Truman Harry S. Truman was just an initial; it didn’t stand for any name. (The “S” in Ulysses S. Grant didn’t stand for anything either.) 34. (1953-1961): World War II hero “Ike” was the first president to Dwight D. Eisenhower ride in a helicopter.
After serving in the military, the future 35th president worked as a foreign correspondent.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images 35. (1961-1963): After being injured and honorably discharged in World War II, Kennedy was briefly John F. Kennedy employed as a journalist during the waning weeks of the war. 36. (1963-1969): Johnson's first career was as a Lyndon B. Johnson teacher. He worked at a school near the U.S.-Mexico border for four years before launching a career in politics. 37. (1969-1974): Nixon became such a skillful poker player while stationed in the Solomon Islands during World War II that his winnings Richard M. Nixon helped launch his political career upon his return to the United States. 38: (1974-1977): A Gerald Ford star football player at the University of Michigan, Ford turned down offers from both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. 39. (1977-1981): When his father died in 1953, Carter gave up his successful military career to Jimmy Carter move back to Georgia and work on their family's peanut farm. Lt. Ronald Reagan and actress Joan Leslie in the 1943 film, "This is the Army." George Rinhart/Corbis/Getty Images 40. (1981-1989): Reagan Ronald Reagan worked as a lifeguard and sportscaster before becoming an actor and, later, a politician. 41. (1989-1993): While a student at Yale University, Bush was captain of the baseball team and a member of Skull and Bones, an elite secret student society. George Bush 42. (1993-2001): Clinton played the saxophone and famously performed Bill Clinton on the Arsenio Hall Show when he was a candidate for president. 43. (2001-2009): Post-presidency, Bush took up oil painting, George W. Bush exhibiting his work at the Museum of the Southwest in Texas. 44. (2009-2017): Prior to becoming the first African American president, Obama Barack Obama won two Grammy Awards for “Best Spoken Word Album.” His wife, Michelle, has likewise won a Grammy. 45. Donald J. Trump (2017-2021): Before becoming president, Trump was a real estate developer, entrepreneur and host of the NBC reality show, "The Apprentice." 46: (2021-present): Biden Joe Biden overcame a debilitating childhood stutter after enduring bullying over the condition in grade school.