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Interesting US President facts

As candidate for the Socialist Party of America, Norman Thomas ran for office of President of the United States 6 times – 1928, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944 and 1948 – without success. Forty-three other men had more influence, taking up the 44 presidencies since George Washington was inaugurated as President of the United States in 1789.

There have been 44 presidencies because Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, 1885–1889 and 1893–1897, thus he served as the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. 

Consecutive terms are, as you have gathered, counted as one presidency. Barack Hussein Obama II is, as the 43rd person to have taken office, still is the 44th President even though he is serving a second term, his first term having been from 2009 to 2012.

President of the United States seal 58 presidency terms

Twenty men served two terms (eight years). Twenty-nine men served one term as President. One, Franklin D. Roosevelt, served three terms, passing away shortly into his fourth term. To date there have been 57 terms, Obama’s second counting as the 58th term. A quick calculation of the length of terms and number of Presidents will tell you that it does not tally. The reason being that only 11 of the 20 first-mentioned served the full second term. Furthermore some of the Presidents succeeded to office through other ways than election.

For instance, four – Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry S Truman and Lyndon B Johnson – have succeeded to the Presidency through the death of an incumbent President (and then gone on to serve a single elected term of their own). Five Presidents – William H. Harrison, Zachary Taylor, James A. Garfield, Warren G. Harding, and John F. Kennedy – died during their first terms. Five Presidents – John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur, and Gerald Ford – succeeded from the Vice-Presidency but did not win elected terms of their own and so actually served less than one term. Two Presidents – Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley – were elected to second terms but were assassinated. One, Richard M. Nixon, resigned 19 months into his second term.

To recap, four died in office of natural causes – William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren G. Harding, and Franklin D. Roosevelt – and four were assassinated – Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. Lincoln and McKinley were killed during their second term.

3 Presidents in 5 weeks

In 1841, the United States had 3 different presidents in the space of 5 weeks. When Martin Van Buren’s term came to an end on March, 3 1841, he was succeeded by William Henry Harrison. But Harrison died on April, 4, only 32 days after the inauguration (thus the shortest term of office). His Vice President, John Tyler, then became President.

Votes that count

For the record, nine of the twenty-nine who served one term sought a second term but were denied by the voters:

John Adams won in 1796; lost in 1800 to Thomas Jefferson.
John Quincy Adams won in 1824; lost in 1828 to Andrew Jackson.
Martin Van Buren won in 1836; lost in 1840 to William Henry Harrison and 1848 to Zackary Taylor.
Benjamin Harrison won in 1888; lost in 1892 to Grover Cleveland.
Theodore Roosevelt won in 1904; lost in 1912 to William Howard Taft.
William Howard Taft won in 1908; lost in 1912 to Woodrow Wilson.
Herbert Hoover won in 1928; lost in 1932 to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Jimmy Carter won in 1976; lost in 1980 to Ronald Reagan.
George H. W. Bush won in 1988; lost in 1992 to Bill Clinton.

Votes that do not count

United States Presidents are not elected by popular vote but by an electoral college representing the states. In fact, John Quincy Adams (1824), Rutherford Hayes (1876), Benjamin Harrison (1888) and George W. Bush (2000) lost the overall vote but won the presidency:

John Quincy Adams lost by 44,804 votes to Andrew Jackson in 1824.
Rutherford B. Hayes lost by 264,292 voter over Samuel J. Tilden in 1876.
Benjamin Harrison lost by 95,713 votes to Grover Cleveland in 1888.
George H.W. Bush lost by 543,816 votes to Al Gore in 2000.

Succession

Fourteen of forty-five Vice Presidents have become President:

Five Vice Presidents were elected to the presidency: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush.

Four Vice Presidents assumed the presidency after the President died of natural causes: John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Calvin Coolidge and Harry Truman.

Four Vice Presidents assumed the presidency after the President was assassinated: Andrew Johnson, Chester Authur, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson.

Gerald Ford assumed the presidency following the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Talking of Vice Presidents; Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had the longest term of office (12 years), had three Vice Presidents serve during his four terms: John Nance Garner (1933-1941), Henry Wallace (1941-1945), Harry Truman (1945).

Not interested?

Three Presidents did not seek a second term in office: James K. Polk (1845-1849) , James Buchanan (1857-1861) – the only bachelor, and Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881).

After his second time as President (1893-1897), Grover Cleveland decided not to run for re-election.

Franklin Pierce has been the only President (1853-1857) who tried but failed to win a party’s nomination for a second term. Pierce was an alcoholic. He was replaced by James Buchanan who went on to win the presidency for the next term.

Acting Presidents

As per Wikipedia, “Only three times in American history has someone acted as President.”

July 13, 1985 from 11h28 to 19h22 when George H.W. Bush stood in when Ronald Reagan underwent surgery.

June 29, 2002 from 07h09 to 09h24 when Dick Cheney acted as President when George W. Bush went in for a colonoscopy.

July 21, 2007 from 07:16 to 09:21  when Cheney again acted as President when George W. Bush went in for another colonoscopy.

The time that acting Presidents serve is not accounted in presidency terms served.

Impeachment

Two U.S. presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson (in 1868) and William J. Clinton (in 1998).

Richard Nixon – the only person to have served two terms as Vice President and also was elected to two terms as President – resigned (August 9, 1974) before he was impeached for the Watergate scandal.

The parties

There are a number of political parties registered in the United States but internationally only the Democratic Party, Republican Party and Libertarian Party are well known. Candidates of the Democratic Party, founded in 1791, have won 22 elections to date. Candidates of the Republican Party, founded in 1854, have won 18 elections.

Before 1850, elections were won by nominees of the Federalists, Democratic-Republican Party, National Union or Whig Party.

To Washington, DC

George Washington was inaugurated for his first term, on April, 30 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City. His second inauguration took place in Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson was the first to be inaugurated in Washington DC. Jefferson also was the only one to walk to and from his inauguration.

The most popular President

The US Presidential candidate with the highest popular vote ever was Ronald Reagan. In 1984, he secured 54,455,075 votes. Reagan also had the candidate with the highest number of electoral votes: 525, in 1984. In that year he equalled the 49 states that Nixon carried in 1972. Only George Washington received 100 percent of the electoral votes, in the first election in 1789 and second in 1792.

Ronald Reagan was the oldest man to become President when he first took office at age 69 in 1981. John F. Kennedy was the youngest President when he took office in 1961.

Not a President but surprisingly popular was Joshua Norton, Emperor of the United States. In 1869, he “abolished” the Republican and Democratic parties.

Three sitting presidents have won a Nobel Peace Prize: Theodore Roosevelt (1906), Woodrow Wilson (1919) and Barack Obama (2009). Wilson was the first American President to visit Europe while in office, in 1918.

The rich Presidents

During the past few decades all the Presidents of the United States were millionaires. Before 1850, most were extremely wealthy, being landowners and some being slave owners. Among the wealthiest were George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt, each worth many millions of dollars in today’s terms.

When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, his net worth was $1.8 million. By 2012 it has grown to an estimated $7 million, mostly because of his book sales.

The annual salary of the US President is $400,000.

Female Presidents?

A number of women ran for President but no woman has yet been elected as President of the United States.

And finally, the first President of the United States

The first constitution of the USA was titled “Articles of Confederation” and was in force between 1781 and 1788. It created a single house of Congress and no executive – but for one year during this period (1781-2), John Hanson served as “President of the United States in Congress Assembled.”

Hanson was followed up by Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788). George Washington was the first President under the Constitution of June 21, 1788, ratified by 1790.

Sources: Bland Ambition by Steve Tally, ProCon, Wikipedia, The Whitehouse

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