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Learning the Presidents of the United States

Updated on April 9, 2020
David3142 profile image

I am a former maths teacher who loves writing about anything that pops into my head.

George Washington

Learning the Presidents of the USA

I recently set myself the challenge of learning all of the Presidents of the USA in order, from the 1st President, George Washington in 1789, all the way up to the 44th, Barack Obama. I've done this kind of thing before. I once learnt all of the Formula 1 world champions from 1950 to modern day and I can name all of the US states, but this somehow seems harder.

Maybe it's because there are some fairly obscure names on the list (well, obscure for somebody from England anyway). Everybody's heard of Washington, Jefferson, the Roosevelts etc. but I'd never heard of John Tyler, James Polk or Benjamin Harrison to name just a few.

Anyway, I started the challenge a few days ago and have set up this lens to monitor my progress and share some of the information I learn along the way.

Can you name all of the US Presidents? Test yourself before reading this lens and see how many you can name. (Don't worry too much about the order, just see how many you can name).

How many Presidents can you name?

See results

John Adams

John Adams
John Adams

The first five Presidents 1789 - 1825

1. George Washington 1789 -1797

2. John Adams 1797-1801

3. Thomas Jefferson 1801-1809

4. James Madison 1809-1817

5. James Monroe 1817-1825

This part was quite easy. I already knew the first four in order and James Monroe has a similar name to James Madison, making it stick in my head easily. No problems so far.

James Madison is the shortest President of all at only 5 ft. 4. He was the 6th longest living however, living until the age of 85 (John Adams lived until 90).

William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison

Presidents 6-10 (1825 - 1845)

6. John Quincy Adams 1825-1829

7. Andrew Jackson 1829-1837

8. Martin Van Buren 1837-1841

9. William Henry Harrison 1841- 1841

10. John Tyler 1841-1845

Now it gets harder. Out of these 5 Presidents, John Quincy Adams is the only one I'm particularly aware of (and only because his father, the 2nd President, had almost the same name). Martin Van Buren sounds familiar, but I couldn't have listed him before starting this task.

This group contains the first President to die in office, William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia just 30 days into his term. Harrison was also the last President to have been born before the signing of the declaration of independence.

He was replaced by his Vice-President, John Tyler, who became the first man to become President without being elected.

Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor

Presidents 11-15 (1845 - 1861)

11. James Knox Polk 1845-1849

12. Zachary Taylor 1849-1850

13. Millard Fillmore 1850-1853

14. Franklin Pierce 1853-1857

15. James Buchanan 1857-1861

These five were even harder than the last five. I'd never heard of any of them. There are still some interesting facts to be found though. James Polk is the earliest President of whom there are known photographs taken during his term in office and is regarded as a good president despite only serving one term.

Zachary Taylor died just 16 months into his Presidency making his the third shortest term in office. He was replaced by Millard Fillmore who is generally regarded as one of the weaker Presidents.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

Presidents 16 - 20 (1861 - 1881)

16. Abraham Lincoln 1861-1865

17. Andrew Johnson 1865-1869

18. Ulysses S Grant 1869-1877

19. Rutherford B Hayes 1877-1881

20. James A Garfield 1881

These five were easy enough to remember. I already knew Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President and that he was replaced by Andrew Johnson. I knew Ulysses Grant from civil war history, so it makes sense that he comes soon after Lincoln and the other two were familiar names to me.

Among these five are the first two Presidents to be assassinated, Lincoln and Garfield. Garfield served the second shortest term of any President at just 6 1/2 months. Lincoln was the tallest President ever at 6 ft 3.

William McKinley

William McKinley
William McKinley

Presidents 21 - 25 (1881 - 1901)

21. Chester A Arthur 1881-1885

22. Grover Cleveland 1885-1889

23. Benjamin Harrison 1889-1893

24. Grover Cleveland 1893-1897

25. William McKinley 1897-1901

These five weren't too bad to learn. Grover Cleveland is counted twice in the list of Presidents as he was elected twice with Harrison (grandson of 9th President, William Henry Harrison) between his two terms.

William McKinley was the third President to be assassinated and I am ashamed to say I learnt his name from Glee (the school in the show is named after him).

Presidents song from Animaniacs

This song is brilliant for learning the Presidents and some facts along the way. It's from the 90s so only goes up to Clinton, but it's well worth a watch.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt

Presidents 26 - 30 (1901 - 1929)

26. Theodore Roosevelt 1901-1909

27. William H Taft 1909-1913

28. Woodrow Wilson 1913-1921

29. Warren G Harding 1921-1923

30. Calvin Coolidge 1923-1929

Starting to get easy now. I was fairly familiar with all of these Presidents, I just needed to revise the order of them. I knew that Wilson was the President during the First World War, but for some reason, I thought that Roosevelt was a lot earlier than 1901.

Roosevelt was the youngest ever President at the age of 42 and the 'Teddy' bear is named after him although he disliked being called Teddy.

Taft later became the Chief Justice of the United States 1921-1930 (the only man to have served in both offices).

Wilson was the driving force behind the creation of League of Nations (although the US never joined), which later became the United Nations.

Harding died just 2 years, 4 months into his term making his the fourth shortest term of any President.

Photo of Theodore Roosevelt courtesy of Shirimasen - wikimedia commons

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Presidents 31 - 35 (1929 - 1963)

31. Herbert Hoover 1929-1933

32. Franklin D Roosevelt 1933-1945

33. Harry S. Truman 1945-1953

34. Dwight D Eisenhower 1953-1961

35. John F Kennedy 1961-1963

This part of the list was fairly simple to remember. I'd forgotten that Truman replaced Roosevelt, but other than that I knew these Presidents in order already.

Roosevelt (a fifth cousin of 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt) is the longest serving President ever, dying 83 days into his fourth term (the 22nd Amendment now limits Presidents to two terms in office).

John F.Kennedy (the youngest elected President) was the fourth and final President to be assassinated. He was replaced by a Johnson, as was Lincoln, the first President to be assassinated.

Photo of Franklin Delano Roosevelt courtesy of Connormah - wikimedia commons

Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon

Presidents 36 - 40 (1963 - 1989)

36. Lyndon B Johnson 1963-1969

37. Richard Nixon 1969-1974

38. Gerald Ford 1974-1977

39. Jimmy Carter 1977-1981

40. Ronald Reagan 1981-1989

It continued to be reasonably easy now. I was already very familiar with all five of these names, I just needed reminding of their order.

Johnson was the second tallest President after Lincoln, standing at 6 ft. 3.5.

Nixon was the first President to resign from the post. He did this after the Watergate scandal.

Ford served the shortest term of any President who didn't die in the post at just 895 days. Conversely, he was the longest lived President dying in 2006 at the age of 93 (one month older than Reagan).

Carter is the earliest of the four surviving former Presidents.

Photo of Richard Nixon courtesy of Ken Takahashi - wikimedia commons

Presidents 41 - 45 (1989 - )

41. George H W Bush 1989-1993

42. Bill Clinton 1993-2001

43. George W Bush 2001-2009

44. Barack Obama 2009 - 2017.

45. Donald Trump 2017 - present

These were by far the easiest five for me, as they are the only five I actually remember first-hand being President.

The Bushes are the second father-son Presidents (the first being the Adams, the 2nd and 6th Presidents).

Bill Clinton's wife, Hillary, herself stood for Presidency in 2008, but lost out on the Democratic Presidential Election to Obama, and again in 2017 where she ran unsuccessfully against Donald Trump.

According to the Gallup organization, George W. Bush is both the most popular and least popular President of the 20th century (popular in 2001, unpopular in 2008).


I seem to have the full list of Presidents in my head now. I run through the list quickly every few days to keep it there and I never forget any names. It's on to learning the accompanying dates next!

© 2013 David


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