The First Ten Presidents of the United States

Portrait of George Washington
Portrait of George Washington. Public Domain

How much do you know about each of the first ten presidents of the United States? Here is an overview of the key facts that you should know about these individuals who helped form the new nation from its very beginning to the time when sectional differences were starting to cause problems for the nation. 

The First Ten Presidents

  1. George Washington - Washington was the only president to be elected unanimously (by the electoral college; there was no popular vote). He set precedents and left a legacy that has established the tone for presidents to this day.
  2. John Adams - Adams nominated George Washington to become the first president and was subsequently chosen as the first Vice President. Adams served only one term but had a huge impact during America's foundational years.
  3. Thomas Jefferson - Jefferson was a staunch anti-federalist who just happened to increase the size and power of the federal government when he completed the Louisiana Purchase with France. His election was more complicated than you might realize. 
  4. James Madison - Madison was president during what was called the second war of independence: the War of 1812. He is also called the "Father of the Constitution," in honor of his instrumental role in creating the Constitution. At 5 feet, 4 inches, he was also the shortest president in history.
  5. James Monroe - Monroe was president during the "Era of Good Feelings," yet it was during his time in office that the fateful Missouri Compromise was reached. This would have a major impact on future relations between pro-slavery states and free states.
  6. John Quincy Adams - Adams was the son of the second president. His election in 1824 was a point of contention due to the "Corrupt Bargain" that many believe resulted in his selection by the House of Representatives. Adams served in the Senate after losing re-election to the White House. His wife was the first foreign-born First Lady. 
  7. Andrew Jackson - Jackson was the first president to garner a national following and enjoyed unprecedented popularity with the voting public. He was one of the first presidents to truly use the powers given to the President. He vetoed more bills than all previous presidents combined and was known for his strong stance against the idea of nullification.
  8. Martin Van Buren - Van Buren served only one term as president, a period marked by few major events. A depression began during his presidency that lasted from 1837-1845. Van Buren's show of restraint in the Caroline Affair may have prevented war with Canada.
  9. William Henry Harrison - Harrison died after only one month in office. Three decades before his term as President, Harrison was Governor of the Indiana Territory when he led forces against Tecumseh in the Battle of Tippecanoe, earning himself the nickname "Old Tippecanoe." The moniker eventually helped him win the presidential election. 
  10. John Tyler - Tyler became the first vice president to succeed to the presidency upon the death of the William Henry Harrison. His term included the annexation of Texas in 1845.
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Your Citation
Kelly, Martin. "The First Ten Presidents of the United States." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Kelly, Martin. (2021, February 16). The First Ten Presidents of the United States. Retrieved from Kelly, Martin. "The First Ten Presidents of the United States." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 20, 2023).