In his rise from a log cabin to wealth and the White House, Millard Fillmore demonstrated that by using methodical industry and some competence an uninspiring man could serve in the highest and most prestigious office in the country, President of the United States. Humble beginnings Born in the Finger Lakes country of New York in 1800, the young Millard Fillmore endured the struggles of the frontier lifestyle. He worked on his father's farm, and at 15 was apprenticed to a cloth dresser. He attended one-room schools, and fell in love with the redheaded teacher, Abigail Powers, who later became his wife. In 1823, he was admitted to the bar; seven years later he moved his law practice to Buffalo. As an associate of Thurlow Weed, a Whig, Fillmore held state office and for eight years was a member of the House of Representatives. In 1848, while Comptroller of New York, he was elected ...

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Zachary Taylor (November 24, 1784 – July 9, 1850) was the 12th President of the United States, serving from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. From War Hero to President Zachary Taylor earned the nickname “Old Rough and Ready” for his willingness to fight alongside his men while he was serving as a military commander. He led his men across the Rio Grande into Mexico, capturing the heavily fortified stronghold of Monterrey. Taylor then granted the Mexicans an eight-week armistice against the wishes of President Polk, who was conscious of the general’s growing political clout within his opposition, the Whig Party. Polk canceled the peace agreement and ordered Taylor to remain in northern Mexico while he transferred the best of Taylor’s troops to the army of General Winfield Scott. In February 1847, Taylor disobeyed these orders and marched his troops south to Buena Vista, using his artillery to defeat a Mexican ...

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Often referred to as the first "dark horse" American President, James K. Polk was the last of the Jacksonians to sit in the White House, and the last strong President until the Civil War. Early Life He was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in 1795. Studious and industrious, James Polk graduated with honors in 1818 from the University of North Carolina. As a young lawyer he entered politics, served in the Tennessee legislature, and became a friend of Andrew Jackson. Pathway to the White House In the House of Representatives, James Polk was a chief lieutenant of Jackson in his Bank war. He served as Speaker between 1835 and 1839, leaving to become Governor of Tennessee. Until circumstances raised Polk's ambitions, he was a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for Vice President in 1844. Both Martin Van Buren, who had been expected to win the Democratic nomination for President, and Henry Clay, who was ...

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John Tyler became the 10th President of the United States (1841–1845) when William Henry Harrison, his running mate, died in April 1841. He was the first Vice President elevated to President after the death of a predecessor. Born in Virginia in 1790, he was raised believing that the Constitution must be strictly construed. He never wavered from this conviction. He attended the College of William and Mary and studied law. Life before politics Born a few years after the American Revolution in 1790 to an old family from Virginia's ruling class, Tyler graduated from the College of William and Mary at the age of seventeen, studied law, and went to work for a prestigious law firm in Richmond. Entering politics At twenty-one, Tyler had used his father's contacts to gain a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates where he began immediately fighting the Bank of the United States, which he opposed as a broadening ...

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William Henry Harrison, an American military officer and politician, was elected the 9th President of the United States in 1841. He was the oldest president to be elected at the time. He was also first to die in office, after 32 days, serving the shortest tenure in United States presidential history. Youth Harrison was in fact a scion of the Virginia planter aristocracy. He was born at Berkeley in 1773. He studied classics and history at Hampden-Sydney College, then began the study of medicine in Richmond. Suddenly, that same year, 1791, Harrison switched interests. He obtained a commission as ensign in the First Infantry of the Regular Army, and headed to the Northwest, where he spent much of his life. William Henry Harrison served as aide-de-camp to General "Mad Anthony" Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers during the infamous Indian removal campaign. That battle is credited with expanding most of the Ohio area to ...

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Martin Van Buren was elected as the 8th President of the United States (1837–1841), after serving as the eighth Vice-President and the tenth Secretary of State, both under Andrew Jackson. While the country was enjoying financial security when the "Little Magician" was elected, less than three months later, the financial panic of 1837 ended the prosperity. Younger Years Martin Van Buren was born in 1782.  He was the son of a Dutch tavern-keeper and farmer, in Kinderhook, New York. After he reached adulthood, many could not believe his humble beginnings because he was always particular about his appearance. As a young lawyer, Martin Van Buren became associated with New York politics. As leader of the "Albany Regency," a New York political organization, he shrewdly dispensed public offices and bounty in a fashion designed to help bring votes. Yet he faithfully fulfilled official duties, and in 1821 he was elected to the United States Senate. Jackson’s ...

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Andrew Jackson, nicknamed “Old Hickory,” was the 7th American President and served his country from 1829-1837. Younger years More nearly than any of his predecessors, Andrew Jackson was elected by popular vote; as President he sought to act as the direct representative of the common man. Born in a backwoods settlement in the Carolinas in 1767, he received sporadic education. But in his late teens he read law for about two years, and he became an outstanding young lawyer in Tennessee. Fiercely jealous of his honor, he engaged in brawls, and in a duel killed a man who cast an unjustified slur on his wife Rachel. Jackson prospered sufficiently to buy slaves and to build a mansion, the Hermitage, near Nashville. He was the first man elected from Tennessee to the House of Representatives, and he served briefly in the Senate. A major general in the War of 1812, Jackson became a national hero when ...

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John Quincy Adams was the son of John and Abigail Adams, and he served as the 6thAmerican President from 1825 to 1829. A member of multiple political parties over the years, he also served as a diplomat, a Senator and member of the House of Representatives. The first President who was the son of a President, John Quincy Adams paralleled his father’s career as well as his temperament and viewpoints of his illustrious father. Childhood and Development As a young boy, John Quincy witnessed the famous Battle of Bunker Hill (June 1775) from a hilltop near the family farm with his mother. He was able to accompany his father on a diplomatic mission to France when he was 10. Later he studied at European universities, becoming an accomplished linguist (fluent in seven languages) and a hard-working diarist. Adams returned to Massachusetts in 1785 where he was admitted to Harvard College and graduated two ...

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  Frequently described as the most powerful people in the world, American presidents lead the largest economy and the largest military, with command authority over the largest active nuclear arsenal. However, the development of the United States was not one that came overnight. Even the idea of a Presidency was one of much decision making. Founders adopted the word "president" over "governor" and other alternatives because it suggested a light hand, as in one who presides, rather than rules. Indeed, the Constitutional Convention first agreed to a weak chief executive elected by congress for one seven-year term, later calling for independent election and separation of powers. It is worth noting that the United States of America was the first country in the world to put a president on the head of the executive power of a republic. Today, this type of polity is widely spread in many countries, making the American President a ...

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The 5thAmerican Presidentwas James Monroe, serving from 1817–1825.  He was the last president from the original Founding Fathers of the United States. The Early Times of James Monroe James Monroe was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia in 1758. He attended the College of William and Mary, fought with distinction in the Continental Army, and practiced law in Fredericksburg, Virginia. As an eager, young politician, he joined the anti-Federalists at the Virginia Convention which ratified the Constitution. In 1790, as an advocate of Jeffersonian policies, James Monroe was elected to fill the office of a United States senator. Four years later, he was appointed Minister to France where he displayed strong sympathies for the French cause. Later, he worked with Robert R. Livingston to help negotiate the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon. Even though he was backed by President Madison, his energy and ambition made him the Republican choice as the American President in 1816. With little ...

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