Ulysses S. Grant

ULYSSES S. GRANT did not need or want the presidency and entered the White House with considerable reluctance.

Rutherford B. Hayes

RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES entered the White House when the powers and prestige of the presidency were at a particularly low ebb. During the term of Andrew Johnson, Congress had reclaimed the initiative, previously exercised by Abraham Lincoln, in shaping Reconstruction policy.

James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur

IN the history of the presidency, the period from 1865 to 1901 is usually perceived as something of a wasteland. Andrew Johnson is remembered as the only chief executive to be impeached, and Grant, as the one with the most scandal-scarred record; and then come those presidents of whom it has been written that "their gravely vacant and bewhiskered faces mixed, melted, swam together .

Grover Cleveland

OF all the presidents, Grover Cleveland is unique in several ways. Only he, having been defeated in a bid for reelection, again won the highest office in the land; thus, he was both the twenty-second president and the twenty-fourth.

Benjamin Harrison

THE presidency of Benjamin Harrison attests that the office requires a breadth of personal qualities and political skills and that to fall short in some of these while being strong in others can be fatal to future electoral success. Possessor of an intellect of the first order, high moral principles, statesmanlike perceptions, and commanding skill as a public speaker, Harrison nonetheless failed to stir the public with magnetic responses to its problems and to relate well to fellow party leaders, which impaired his performance of essential party tasks.

William McKinley

ONE of the most beloved of American presidents, William McKinley served as the nation's chief executive during a time when the American people surveyed their world with confidence. Recovering from a severe economic depression after his election in 1896, they dreamed of unprecedented economic expansion.

Theodore Roosevelt

THE administration of Theodore Roosevelt was in some respects the first modern presidency. It is with Roosevelt that the most distinctive twentieth-century characteristics of the executive office emerged as more or less permanent traits.

William Howard Taft

WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT'S parents were of moderate wealth and some political influence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was born on 15 September 1857. He graduated from Yale College in 1878 and was awarded a law degree by Cincinnati Law School in 1880.

Woodrow Wilson

THOMAS WOODROW WILSON, twenty-eighth president of the United States, is the only chief executive who has given scholarly attention to the presidency before undertaking the duties of that office. Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia, on 28 December 1856, the son of Janet Woodrow Wilson and the Rev.

Warren G. Harding

WITH these words, "I cannot hope to be one of the great presidents, but perhaps I may be remembered as one of the best loved," Warren G. Harding began one of the most corruption-riddled and discredited administrations in the nation's history.

Calvin Coolidge

CALVIN COOLIDGE, a shrewd, taciturn, and publicly dignified New Englander, occupied the presidency during the generally prosperous and peaceful period from August 1923 to March 1929. The variety of his accomplishments in the White House was impressive even if their substance was not.

Herbert Hoover

ON 2 August 1927, on a summer trip in South Dakota, President Calvin Coolidge distributed to reporters copies of a simple message: "I do not choose to run for President in nineteen twenty-eight." He was quietly departing from a presidency that had quietly watched over a country enjoying what seemed to be permanent prosperity, rejoicing in seemingly limitless technological and scientific progress, and enormously proud of its institutions. In Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover—an engineer, businessman, humanitarian, administrator, and in many respects political progressive—the nation saw a figure whose brilliantly successful career embodied its technical and economic talents, its generosity, its mythic story of the poor boy whose hard work brings him fame and wealth.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

IT was the worst of times when Franklin Delano Roosevelt assumed the presidency in March 1933. Following the ruinous stock market crash of late 1929, the bottom seemed to drop out of the American economy.

Harry S. Truman

HARRY S. TRUMAN of Independence, Missouri, once remarked that three experiences prepared a man for high political office—farming, banking, and the army.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

DWIGHT DAVID EISENHOWER, the thirty-fourth president of the United States, was uniquely popular among post-World War II American presidents. As of 2002, only two other chief executives of that period, had been elected to and completed two terms in office.