Do you know who the shortest termed U.S. President was? How about the richest? What is the most common name among U.S. Presidents? Read on to find out these and other fascinating facts and figures about all 53 U.S. Presidents to date, as well as how they compare in terms of height, weight, education, term length, age at the inauguration, and more!
First of all, did you notice I said 53 presidents, not 46? There is a reason for that! The first president of the United States was not George Washington. Let me clarify: Washington was the first president under the Constitution of June 21, 1788, ratified by 1790.
Who was the REAL first President?
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 US in Congress Assembled” – or, in short, President of the United States. He was elected by his peers, including George Washington.
Hanson was followed 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 actually the EIGHTH president of the USA. George Washington was also the only U.S President who didn’t have any children with his wife. Considering they always seemed to be at war back then, maybe they didn’t see each other enough?
Many of the features of the American presidency are fairly recent
The length of the presidency was not limited to 2 terms until 1951 in the 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was elected to 4 successive terms between 1932 and 1944.
The president’s inauguration day used to be on March 4. After Roosevelt died in office in 1945, it was changed to February 20.
Only Old White Guys?
Black men could not become president until 1870 … and it took over 100 years before they had an actual chance at the office. Barack Obama was elected in 2008.
Women could not become president until 1920 … and we are still waiting for one to get into office. Geraldine Ferraro was a Vice President candidate in 1984 for Walter Mondale (D) and it wasn’t until 2016 when a woman went for the lead on the ticket when Hillary Clinton (D) ran for office.
George Washington originally said, “Don’t pay me, just cover my expenses.” He was so expensive to cover that for his second term? They insisted he take a salary – which came in under his expenses for the previous term.
The presidential salary remained the same for almost 100 years. It was pegged at $25,000 per year until 1873 when it was doubled. The president had no expense account until 1907 when $25,000 was added to his compensation to cover expenses connected to his office. The salary today stands at $390,000 plus $50,000 in expenses.
It was originally intended that the president would be a part-time position, but with increased responsibilities and expectations of leadership over time, it became far more demanding.
Retired presidents were not eligible for a state pension until 1958. The Former President’s Act gave them $25,000 a year, an office, and minimal staff. The pension today stands at c. $161,000 – the same as a cabinet secretary.
How Do You Become President?
Presidents are not elected by popular vote but by an electoral college representing the states. John Quincy Adams (1824), Rutherford Hayes (1876), Benjamin Harrison (1888), and George W. Bush (2000) lost the overall vote but won the presidency because they won the electoral vote.
We could do an entire study lesson on elections and how the vote works!
What does the US President do?
The president is not a king, but he/she does have some unique responsibilities that make this job very challenging!
– The President’s main responsibility is to be Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces and oversee foreign policy decisions.
– Because they are head of state, presidents represent America at home and abroad, meeting with world leaders on behalf of the US government.
– The president also has domestic policy responsibilities, working to balance both the needs of industry as well as those of individual citizens when setting national economic policies.
– Presidents have a say in decisions like Supreme Court nominees and international trade agreements.
I have Presidental FlashCards for you today – click the link below to download them.
We have the Traditional collection – starting with George Washington and ending with Donald Trump. We have something fun coming for our current president Joe Biden – and his Vice President, who is the first woman to get that close to the presidency: Kamala Harris
We also found these great videos to help you learn them —
This Presidents of the USA song for kids Starts from George Washington and goes all the way to Barack Obama and Donald Trump. With some bluegrass music in the background, it’ll be hard not to start tapping your feet to the jig as you memorize all 45 US Presidents from first to last.