Presidents of the United States: Order & Overview

Instructor: Jason Waguespack

Jason has taught Political Science courses for college. He has a doctorate in Political Science.

This lesson will give you an overview of the Presidents of the United States that have served up to 2016. You will see every American president listed, with a brief look at the accomplishments of major presidents.


The President of the United States (POTUS) is the most prominent officeholder in the nation and one of the world's most powerful and influential figures. As of 2016, 43 individuals have served as president. Some have made significant achievements in guiding the country's destiny, while others are not as well known and, by today's standards, are rather obscure. To begin our overlook of the American presidency, we'll start with a list of all the presidents, along with the years in which they served.

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the U.S.

List of American Presidents

List of Presidents Years Served
1. George Washington (1789-1797)
2. John Adams (1797-1801)
3. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
4. James Madison (1809-1817)
5. James Monroe (1817-1825)
6. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)
7. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)
8. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
9. William Henry Harrison (1841)
10. John Tyler (1841-1845)
11. James K. Polk (1845-1849)
12. Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)
13. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)
14. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
15. James Buchanan (1857-1861)
16. Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
17. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)
18. Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
19. Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)
20. James A. Garfield (1881)
21. Chester Arthur (1881-1885)
22. Grover Cleveland (1885-1889)
23. Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)
24. Grover Cleveland (1893-1897)
25. William McKinley (1897-1901)
26. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
27. William Howard Taft (1909-1913)
28. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
29. Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
30. Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
31. Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
33. Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
35. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
36. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)
37. Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
38. Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
39. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
40. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
41. George Bush (1989-1993)
42. Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
43. George W. Bush (2001-2009)
44. Barack Obama (2009-)

It is important to note that Grover Cleveland is listed as both the 22nd and 24th president because he was elected to non-consecutive terms. He was defeated for re-election by Benjamin Harrison in 1888, but Cleveland would beat him four years later to take back the office. Thus, even though we have 44 presidents, only 43 individuals have actually served as president.

Overview of Major American Presidents

Some presidents are strongly identified with turning points in the nation's history. These turning points have included wars, territorial expansions of the nation, notable economic programs, or even changing the course of the entire world. We'll take a look at these major presidents and their accomplishments.

  • George Washington - As the first president, Washington would set a number of precedents that his successors would follow. He refused a grandiose title and preferred to be called 'Mr. President.' He also ran for just two terms, a precedent that presidents would follow until Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for a third and fourth term.
  • Thomas Jefferson - Jefferson's most significant accomplishment as president was doubling the size of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase. He also sent the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the new territory.
  • Abraham Lincoln - Lincoln's main legacy is successfully prosecuting the Civil War against the Confederate states of the South and for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. However, he would be assassinated before he could carry out his plans to reunify the country.

Abraham Lincoln

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