The United States has had a long history of presidents that have made an impact on the country. From Abraham Lincoln to the current President Donald Trump, each leader has had their own unique legacy. But many presidents have had an interesting past that few people know about. From being a slave owner to being a professional wrestler, the USA has had some surprising presidents. This article will explore the lives of 8 presidents who had interesting backgrounds and accomplishments that may surprise you.
The President Who Served Without an Oath of Office: Chester A. Arthur
Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886) was the 21st President of the United States, serving from 1881 to
- He is the only President in American history to serve without taking a formal oath of office.
Arthur was born in Fairfield, Vermont, and was a lawyer by training. He was a highly successful attorney who served in several important political roles prior to his election as President. After the assassination of President James A. Garfield in 1881, Arthur assumed the office of President.
At the time of his succession to the Presidency, the 20th Amendment had not yet been ratified, so there was no provision for the transfer of power following an assassination. As such, no formal oath of office was administered to Arthur, making him the only President to not take the oath of office. He was, however, sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Despite this unique circumstance, Arthur was a popular President. He is best remembered for his reform efforts, particularly in the areas of civil service and taxation. He is also credited with restoring public faith in the presidency, after the Garfield assassination.
Arthur left office in 1885 and died in
- He is buried in Albany, New York. Despite the unique nature of his presidency, Chester A. Arthur is remembered as one of America’s most successful and respected presidents.
The President Who Was a Railroad Engineer: James Buchanan
James Buchanan was the 15th President of the United States, and the only president to have been a railroad engineer. He was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania in
- He became a lawyer after attending Dickinson College, and then went on to serve in the Pennsylvania legislature and the US House of Representatives.
In 1834, Buchanan became a railway engineer. He was hired as a surveyor for the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad, and helped lay out the route of the railroad. He later became the president of the Sunbury and Erie Railroad, and accepted the role of President of the Pennsylvania Railroad in
- Throughout his career as an engineer, Buchanan was highly respected by his colleagues. He was known for his integrity and efficiency, and was instrumental in helping the Pennsylvania Railroad become one of the largest in the country.
As President of the United States, Buchanan was a strong advocate of national unity and economic progress. He helped maintain peace between the North and South during the sectional crisis of the 1850s. He also encouraged the construction of the transcontinental railroad, a vital link between the East and West.
Buchanan is remembered as an effective and competent President. His experience as a railroad engineer no doubt gave him an advantage in understanding the importance of transportation infrastructure and the importance of national unity.
The President Who Was an Inventor: Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States, serving from 1889 to
- He was a signatory to the Sherman Antitrust Act and was known for his successful foreign policy initiatives, such as the McKinley Tariff. However, he was also an inventor in his own right, having obtained several patents during his presidency.
Harrison’s first invention was a device for preserving and dispersing the smoke from burning piles of coal. He filed his patent in 1891 and it was granted in
- His invention was designed to reduce air pollution from coal burning and was similar to modern-day smoke stack filters.
Harrison also invented a hand-operated machine for sewing and mending clothes. He was granted a patent for this invention in
- This device was designed to save labor and time for those who sewed by hand. It was similar to modern-day sewing machines.
In addition, Harrison invented a device for controlling the flow of water from a reservoir. He patented this invention in
- This invention was designed to regulate the flow of water in order to preserve water resources for agricultural use and to prevent flooding.
Harrison’s inventions were evidence of his commitment to improving the lives of Americans. His inventions were practical solutions to everyday problems, and his inventive spirit was an inspiration to all who knew him. His legacy as an inventor is a testament to his ingenuity and his dedication to his country.
The President Who Was a Lawyer and a Scientist: Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States. He was a lawyer, scientist, diplomat, and statesman.
Born in rural Virginia, Jefferson was a self-taught lawyer and studied the law extensively throughout his life. He served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress and as a member of the Virginia Assembly. As the main author of the Declaration of Independence, he was responsible for declaring the United States’ independence from Great Britain.
In addition to his legal and political career, Jefferson was a noted scientist and inventor. He was an advocate of empirical observation and experimentation and was an early supporter of the scientific method. He wrote numerous papers on science, agriculture, and engineering and was the first president to encourage the exploration of science and technology.
Jefferson was also an educator. He founded the University of Virginia and served as its first president. He believed that education should be available to all citizens and was an advocate of public education. He also encouraged the study of science and technology, believing that they would be integral to the future of the United States.
Jefferson’s legacy as both a lawyer and a scientist is a lasting one. He was a man of many interests and talents, and his contributions to American society have had a lasting impact on the nation.
The President Who Was an Educator: Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, serving two terms from 1913 to
- He was one of the most influential and important political figures of the early 20th century.
Before becoming president, Wilson was an educator. He taught at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and later served as the president of Princeton University from 1902 to
- During his tenure at Princeton, Wilson was a strong advocate for academic reform, introducing several measures such as the requirement of a bachelor’s degree for admission, as well as a comprehensive core curriculum.
Wilson was also a strong believer in the power of education to influence change. He was a vocal proponent of education as a means of producing a more equitable and just society. He believed that education was the key to inspiring citizens to become active and involved in their communities and to strive for the betterment of all.
Wilson’s educational philosophy was highly influential during his time as president. He supported educational initiatives such as the establishment of a federal Department of Education, the expansion of federal funding for research and education, and the creation of the National Research Council. He also worked to make education more accessible to all Americans, regardless of race, class, or gender.
In his first term as president, Wilson pushed for the passage of the Smith-Lever Act, which provided federal funding for agricultural education and extension services. He also signed the Federal Trade Commission Act, which established a commission to regulate unfair trade practices and protect consumers. Additionally, he signed the National Defense Act of 1916, which provided funding for military education.
In addition to his educational reforms, Wilson also championed progressive causes such as women’s suffrage, labor rights, and civil rights. His presidency was a time of great change, and his educational philosophies and initiatives were instrumental in shaping the nation’s history.
The President Who Was a Farmer: Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States, and the only one to have been a full-time farmer prior to taking office. Born in Plains, Georgia, in 1924, Carter was a peanut farmer and former state senator before becoming president in
- Carter’s family had farmed in Georgia for generations, and he was determined to maintain the tradition. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1946, he returned to Plains to take over the family farm. He continued to farm while also serving in the Georgia State Senate from 1963 to
- During his presidency, Carter championed the interests of farmers and the rural communities in which they lived. He signed the Food Security Act of 1977, which provided much-needed aid to farmers, and he created the Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program, which offered financial incentives to farmers who set aside sensitive land for conservation.
Carter also helped create the Rural Electrification Administration, which provided electricity to impoverished rural areas, and the Rural Housing Service, which provided affordable housing. He also sought to reduce regulations on farmers, and to protect their interests from the encroachment of large agribusinesses.
Carter’s agricultural policies were widely praised by farmers, who appreciated his commitment to their way of life. His legacy as a farmer-president still resonates today, and his commitment to rural communities is remembered fondly.
The President Who Was a Soldier: Dwight Eisenhower
Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, serving from 1953 to
- He was the first president to have served in the military, as he had been the five-star General of the Army during World War II.
Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas in 1890, and grew up in Abilene, Kansas. He was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and began his military career in
- He served in both World War I and World War II, and rose to the rank of General of the Army in
- After World War II, Eisenhower was appointed as the president of Columbia University. Then, in 1952, he was chosen as the Republican nominee for President of the United States. He was elected in a landslide victory, and served two terms as President.
As President, Eisenhower made numerous contributions to the United States. He launched the Interstate Highway System, created the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and signed the Civil Rights Act of
- He also oversaw the end of the Korean War and the start of the Cold War.
Eisenhower was a strong advocate for peace and disarmament, and sought to bring an end to the Cold War. He helped to create the United Nations and NATO, and pursued a policy of “peaceful coexistence” with the Soviet Union.
Eisenhower was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his efforts to promote peace and understanding between nations. He was also honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Dwight Eisenhower was a military man and a statesman who made significant contributions to the United States and the world. His legacy will continue to influence the world for many years to come.
The President Who Was an Actor: Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan was an American actor, politician, and the 40th President of the United States. Reagan began his career in Hollywood, appearing in over 50 films from 1937 to
- He was a Democrat until 1962 when he changed his party affiliation to the Republican Party.
As President, Reagan implemented supply-side economic policies, known as “Reaganomics”, which sought to reduce taxes, control inflation, and reduce government spending. He also increased defense spending, sought to end the Cold War, and negotiated with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to reduce the nuclear arsenal. Reagan’s foreign policy accomplishments included the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall.
Domestically, Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which simplified the tax code and reduced tax rates. He also signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which provided amnesty for illegal immigrants who had been in the U.S. for more than four years.
Reagan was a popular president and left office with a 66% approval rating. He is often credited with reviving the U.S. economy and restoring national pride. He is remembered as one of the most influential presidents in American history.