If you’re anything like us, you probably study American history and politics pretty often. But do you know how many presidents there are in the United States? Or which U.S. president first signed a bill of rights into law? Let alone that some of them were good at math.
Presidents are such important figures in the development of our country that it’s worth getting to know them on an individual level too! The articles listed below will help you learn more about the nearly 300 men who have held the office of President since George Washington took office in 1789.
From what they did before they entered politics to who they married and had children with, here are 11 interesting facts about America’s presidents you may not have known yet:
1) George Washington
The first president of United Washington was born into a wealthy and established Virginia family on February 11, 1731. He was educated at local schools, then at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). In 1751, he joined the militia as a Lieutenant and later became a Major in the local militia.
Washington was 55 when he became the first president of the United States. As the commander of the Allied Forces at the end of the Revolutionary War, he had a statue erected in his honor. Washington’s Farewell Address is considered one of the best pieces of advice on how to run a country.
2) James Madison
James Madison was the fourth president of the USA and the principal author of the Bill of Rights. He was also the founder of the Democratic-Republican Party, the first political party in the United States. As a young man, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates and helped write the state constitution.
He was elected to the first Congress in 1788, and quickly became a leader of the opposition to Alexander Hamilton’s financial policies. When James Monroe was chosen as the fifth president, he and Madison served together for just one month.
3) James Monroe
James Monroe was the fifth president of the United States. He was a major figure in both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. He was president when the United States acquired its first foreign territory, when it became a member of the League of Nations, and when it won its first bid for admission to the United Nations.
Born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, at the age of 16, Monroe joined the Virginia militia. He saw action in many battles, including Yorktown, where he was wounded. He was a delegate to the state Constitutional Convention in 1776 and signed the Declaration of Independence in August 1776.
He served in the Continental Congress, was governor of Virginia, and was a congressman and ambassador to France. Monroe was elected president in 1816, 1820 and 1828, and was the last president to serve under the Constitution of 1787.
4) John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth president of the United States and the last to serve under the Constitution of 1787. He was also the sixth and last president who was a member of the Federalist Party. The son of John Adams, he was the only president to have been both an ambassador and a senator.
As a senator, he helped found the Republican Party by opposing the extension of slavery into the Western territories. John Quincy Adams also served as secretary of state and as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
5) Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was one of the most popular presidents in U.S. history. He was known for his fierce and uncompromising demeanor, as well as his military prowess. Jackson was the only president to have won major military victories in the Mexican-American War and the Battle of New Orleans.
He was also one of the few presidents to own slaves, though he freed them upon entering the White House. Jackson was born in South Carolina, and his family moved to Tennessee when he was a child.
He fought in the War of 1812, then practiced law in the state capital, Nashville. Jackson served one term as president in 1828, winning a landslide reelection victory in 1832. He died in 1845 and is still the only president to die in office.
6) Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth president of the United States, serving one term from 1837 to 1837. Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York, and moved with his family to Kinderhook in 1802.
He studied law, then served in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and was New York’s attorney general before being elected president in 1836. Van Buren died in Albany, New York, on July 30, 1862, during the U.S. Civil War. Van Buren never married and is therefore the only president to die without leaving an heir.
7) Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest American leaders of all time. As president, he led the United States through the Civil War, which was a complex, bloody conflict. The war was fought over the issue of slavery, which was legal in all of the American states at the time.
Slavery had been prohibited by the Constitution, but the Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott case in 1857 that a black person was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue for their freedom.
Lincoln’s election in 1860 brought an end to this legal debate and marked the end of slavery in the United States. Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Kentucky and was a self-taught lawyer and statesman.
8) Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes was the 19th president of the United States. He was also the first person to be elected president after being a member of the House of Representatives. He was born in Delaware, Ohio, and moved to Indiana as a young man.
Hayes was a soldier in the Mexican-American War, and later helped suppress the Mormon Rebellion in Utah. After a long career in Congress, Hayes was elected the first president who had never been a member of the federal government. Rutherford B. Hayes died on January 17, 1883, in Fremont, Ohio, and is buried in Ohio’s Cold Spring Cemetery.
9) Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States. He was also the first president to have been born in the United States, and the first to have been born in the 20th century. He was born in New York City and raised in a family with a long history of public service.
Theodore Roosevelt was a naturalist and explorer during his lifetime, as well as a writer and politician. Roosevelt was also a reformer who fought for civil rights for African Americans and the regulation of big business. Theodore Roosevelt died on January 6, 1919, in his home in New York City.
10) William Taft
William Howard Taft was the 27th president of the United States, serving from 1909 to 1913. He was the only person to have been both a judge and a president, and the only person to have been both the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the chief executive. Taft was born on March 15, 1827, in Cincinnati, and attended Yale University.
He graduated at the top of his class and pursued a successful legal career before running for president. Taft was the first president to have been a member of a professional sports team, and he was also the first president to have been a member of a fraternity. After his presidency ended, Taft retired to his home in Cincinnati, where he died on July 31, 1921.
11) Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president of the United States. He was also the first president to have been born during the 20th century. Wilson was a Presbyterian minister before he was elected to the presidency. Wilson was a reformer who worked to establish a merit-based government, end racial discrimination and establish the Federal Reserve.
He was the first president to have been a college professor, and he was also the first president to have been a member of a professional sports team. After leaving the White House, Wilson retired to his home in Princeton, New Jersey, where he died on February 3, 1924.
12) Warren G. Harding
Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th president of the United States. He was also the first president to have been a member of a professional sports team, and the only president to have been convicted of committing a crime while in office. Harding was a newspaper editor and a businessman before being elected president.
He was the first president to have been a member of a professional sports team, and he was also the first president to have been a member of a fraternity..