Famous 19th Century Presidents

Some of the most iconic Presidents of the United States served during the 19th century. These included the likes of Abraham Lincoln whose leadership changed the course of American history.

For most of the century, the Presidency was contested over the issue of slavery. Following are some of the most important and famous Presidents of 19th century America.


Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson served as the 3rd President of the United States. He served for two consecutive terms from 1801 to 1809. Jefferson was one of the most important Founding Fathers and had played a central role in drafting the Declaration of Independence.

As President, he actively supported the rights of the states and sought to keep United States neutral in the war between France and Britain. He also prohibited the importation of slaves into the country and oversaw the Louisiana Purchase which effectively doubled the size of the United States.

James Madison

James Madison served as the 4th President of the United States. His Presidency stretched over two consecutive terms from 1809 to 1817. Madison played a vital role in drafting the United States Constitution, for which he was also called the ‘Father of the Constitution’. One of the key events during his Presidency was the War of 1812, fought between Britain and United States. The war exposed the weaknesses of the American federal government. For this reason, Madison became an advocate of stronger federal institutions.

James Monroe

James Monroe served as the 5th President of the United States. He served for two consecutive terms from 1817 to 1825. Monroe remained a popular president throughout his two terms. He used diplomacy as a primary tool to resolve conflicts. He also issued his famous policy which later became as Monroe Doctrine – that United States would not accept the interference of European powers in the matters of independent North American or South American countries. Monroe’s presidential terms are also marked by the Era of Good Feelings – a period in which Americans experienced peace, prosperity, nationalism and good international ties.

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams served as the 6th President of the United States. He was the son of the Founding Father John Adams. Quincy Adams remained the President for a single term from 1825 to 1829. He had an ambitious agenda to expand the American infrastructure and institutions. However most of his plans were thwarted by Congress. He failed to take any decisive steps during his Presidency, largely because of a lack of adequate support.

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson served as the 7th President of the United States. He remained in this position from 1829 to 1837, serving for two consecutive terms. Prior to his Presidency, Jackson had become a national war hero when he led US troops to victory against British troops in the Battle of New Orleans. He remained a popular president during his terms and took many important decisions. He recognized Texas as an independent Republic and passed the Indian Removal Act. He also established peaceful ties with France and Britain.

James K. Polk

James K. Polk served as the 11th President of the United States. He is often regarded as one of the most effective presidents in that he achieved most of the goals he had set. The Mexican-American War was fought during his presidency in which United States was decisively victorious. In the wake of the war, United States also expanded significantly to reach the Pacific coast. Polk resolved territorial conflicts with United Kingdom and was able to overhaul the national treasury system. He served for a single term from 1845 to 1849.

James Buchanan

James Buchanan served as the 15th President of the United States. Buchanan served as president from 1857 to 1861. He served immediately before the American Civil War broke out. During his Presidency, he was unable to reconcile the conflict between pro-slavery and anti-slavery states. For this reason, he is sometimes held partially responsible for bringing about the war.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln remained the President from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. As soon as Lincoln was elected the President, southern states began to secede from the Union. This marked the beginning of the American Civil War. Lincoln led the Union forces during this war with his leadership and vision. His leadership was instrumental in helping the Union forces win the war and bring the institution of slavery to an end. Soon after the war was over, Lincoln was assassinated. He remains one of the most popular, liked and recognized presidents in American history.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant served as the 18th President of the United States. He served for two consecutive terms from 1869 to 1877. Prior to his Presidency, Grant distinguished himself by leading the Union armies to victory in the American Civil War. During his terms as the President, Grant sought to take measures for granting rights to African Americans and other minorities. He also took steps to eliminate racial organizations such as Ku Klux Klan.

James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield served as the 20th President of the United States. He began his presidential term in March, 1881. But his presidency was cut short when Garfield was assassinated in September, 1881. He was assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau who sought a political appointment and resented Garfield when he was refused.

Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland served as the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. He served his first term from 1893 to 1897. During this period, he enjoyed immense prestige as a President who fought corruption and nepotism while embodying personal qualities. His second term stretched from 1885 to 1889. During this period, the Panic of 1893 struck United States, creating an economic depression. This ultimately made Cleveland unpopular with the masses.

The American Presidents cited above led the United States during the 19th century. They forged the nation’s fortunes through their good and bad decisions. For this reason, they remain an integral part of the country’s history through the 19th century.

Learn more about 19th Century American Presidents at Wikipedia