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US Presidents When They Were Young

It’s often remarked on that America’s presidents have been a very white bunch, but fewer people have mentioned the fact that they’ve also been a very grey bunch. American politicians have, historically, been fairly old. It’s the only way for them to gain the political experience that has, until recently, been considered necessary to be America’s Commander-in-Chief.

So it’s easy to forget that every president was young, that every president had awkward haircuts (some more awkward than others) and committed youthful indiscretions (some more youthful than others).

For everyone who has secretly kinda wondered which presidents were hot, here are 25 of America’s Chiefs of State in their freshest, most youthful state (with write-ups for those of you who may have dozed their way through history class)

Name: Theodore Roosevelt
Also Known As: Teddy, “The Lion,” TR, “that guy from Night at the Museum”
Tenure: 1829 – 1837
Best Known For: Getting shot in the chest on the way to a speech and, instead of going to a hospital, proceeding to give his speech in a bloodstained shirt off of notes with bullet holes in them, also some other, less cool stuff like the Wildlife Reserve and the Panama Canal.
Quotable: “It takes more than that to kill a bull moose” (said after, may I remind you, he was shot in the chest and gave a 90-minute speech with the bullet still stuck in his chest).

Name: Calvin Coolidge (19 to 23)
Also Known As: “Silent Cal,” “Cautious Cal”
Tenure: 1921 – 1923
Most Famous For: not exactly being the life of the party.
Quotable: “You lose” (attributed to Coolidge after a dinner partner told him she had made a bet with a neighbor that, despite his reserved demeanor, she would be able to get a conversation out of him)

Name: Dwight Eisenhower (25 and 29)
Also Known As: Ike
Tenure: 1953 – 1961
Most Famous For: Coining the term “Military-Industrial Complex” when warning America about the growing alliance between the American arms industry and the military to drive up arms expenditures, a warning that America definitely listened to and lived by!
Quotable: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

Name: George W. Bush
Also Known As: “Dubya,” “Junior”
Tenure: 2001 – 2008
Most Famous For: The war in Iraq, the war on Afghanistan, the disastrous follow-up to Hurricane Katrina, wiretapping American citizens, classifying prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay as “terror detainees” not protected by the Geneva conventions and approving the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against them, promoting the false narrative that Iraq had WMDs, and still having the unmitigated gall to criticize Trump for his falsehoods and xenophobia.
Quotable: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

Name: Bill Clinton (22 and 26)
Also Known As: “Bubba,” “The Comeback Kid”
Tenure: 1993-2001
Most Famous For: NAFTA, the Omnibus Crime Bill, which expanded the use of the death penalty, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which allowed gay and lesbian soldiers to serve as long as they didn’t disclose their orientation, not knowing what the word “is” meant.
Quotable: “Being president is like running a cemetery: you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.”

Name: Richard Nixon (20)
Also Known As: “Tricky Dick”
Tenure: 1969 – 1974
Most Famous For: Ending the Vietnam War, starting the EPA, serving as the world’s most famous example that cheaters never prosper.
Quotable: “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” (wise words for today!)

Name: Gerald Ford (18 and 20)
Also Known as: “Mr. Nice Guy,” Jerry
Tenure: 1974-1977
Most Famous For: Being the only President who was not voted in as President or Vice President (he became VP after Spiro Agnew resigned amidst accusations of bribery, extortion, and tax fraud, and then President after Nixon was impeached)
Quotable: “Tell the truth, work hard, and come to dinner on time.”

Name: John Adams
Also Known As: “His Rotundity,””You fat motherf*cker” (by Hamilton: The Musical, 2016)
Tenure: 1797 – 1801
Most Famous For: Playing a prominent role in inciting the American Revolution, his diplomatic efforts with France, serving as the nation’s first Vice President, getting roasted really hard in Hamilton: The Musical (2016)
Tenure: 1797 – 1801
Quotable: “There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”

Name: Herbert Hoover (25)
Also Known As: “The Great Humanitarian” (Seriously because of his work as a civil engineer during the Mississippi flood in 1927, then sarcastically because of government nonintervention during the Great Depression)
Tenure: 1929 – 1933
Best Known For: Facing widespread hostility from his constituents who blamed him for the Depression, to the point that shantytowns were rechristened “Hoovervilles” and blankets of discarded newspapers were named “Hoover blankets”
Quotable: “Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body – the producers and consumers themselves.”

Name: William Howard Taft (unknown)
Also Known As: “Big Chief”, “Big Lub”
Tenure: 1909 – 1913
Most Famous For: Getting stuck in the White House Bathtub (which never actually happened), falling asleep in public functions (which happened constantly).
Quotable: “I don’t remember that I was ever president” (when he later became Chief Justice)

Name: Abraham Lincoln (late 30’s)
Also Known as: “The Great Emancipator,” “Uncle Abe.”
Tenure: 1809-1865
Most Famous For: His Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, his role in preserving the union during the Civil War, having what was probably history’s worst trip to the theater.
Quotable: “He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I ever met” (about a political enemy)

Name: Ronald Reagan (29)
Nicknames: The Gipper, “The Teflon President”
Tenure: 1981 – 1989 (Physically. Mentally? Well, we’re not too sure when the dementia started)
Most Famous For: Selling arms to Iran to get money to topple another country’s legitimately-elected government, tens of thousands of AIDS-related deaths because of his malignant neglect of the crisis, supplying money to drug cartels to fight communists even though his government waged a fierce “War on Drugs” at home (largely targeted against black Americans), and constantly getting cited as “America’s Reasonable Conservative.”
Quotable: “Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.”

Name: William Henry Harrison Sr.
Also Known As: “Old Tippecanoe”
Tenure: 1841 – 1841 (dying of pneumonia after 31 days, Harrison clocks in at the shortest tenure of any president)
Most Famous For: Dying.
Quotable: “Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more” (his last words, spoken to his Vice President John Tyler).

Wikimedia Commons

Name: John F. Kennedy (20 and 21)
Also Known As: JFK, “The Hot One” (in the pre-Obama years)
Tenure: 1961 – 1963
Best Known For: Negotiating through the Cuban Missile Crisis, presiding over the disastrous Bay of Pigs campaign against Fidel Castro, fueling 50 years of wild conspiracy theories.
Quotable: “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

Name: Andrew Jackson (unknown)
Also Known As: “Old Hickory,” “King Mob”
Tenure: 1829 – 1837
Best Known For: The Trail of Tears, one of the most tragic chapters in American history, where thousands of Native Americans were “forcibly relocated” to new territory by the American Military in a punishing march that left four thousand dead of illness and starvation, still somehow being on the $20 bill.

Name: James Buchanan (unknown)
Nicknames: “Ten Cent Jimmy,” “Bachelor President”, “America’s Worst President” (by every official poll and survey since 1948)
Tenure: 1857 – 1861
Most Famous For: Doing literally nothing as the South threw an armed temper tantrum over the question of whether it was morally okay to own other human beings, not getting married.
Quotable: “Happily, a matter of but little practical importance” (when asked about the issue of slavery, five years before the Civil War started).

Name: Rutherford B. Hayes (30)
Also Known As: “His Fraudulency,” “Rutherfraud” (over suspicions that his election had been rigged), “Who’s that?” (me, just now)
Tenure: 1877 – 1881
Most Famous For: Not much! (Hayes is often cited as one of the most “average” presidents)
Quotable: “The President of the United States should strive to be always mindful of the fact that he serves his party best who serves his country best.”

Name: Jimmy Carter (18)
Also Known As: “The Peanut Farmer”
Tenure: 1977 – 1981
Most Famous For: That time he legitimately got attacked by a swimming swamp rabbit while he was out in a boat (no, look it up, it’s actually real)
Quotable: “My esteem in the country has gone up substantially. It is very nice now that when people wave at me, they use all their fingers.”

Name: James A. Garfield (16)
Also Known As: “Boatman Jim” (from when he worked on the Ohio canals as a teen)
Tenure: 1881 – 1881
Most Famous For: being assassinated, not being an orange, lasagna-loving cat.
Quotes: “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”

unknown

Name: Barack Obama
Also Known As: “Thanks, Obama,” Barry, Barack Hussein Obama (by your racist uncle)
Tenure: 2009-2017
Most Famous For: Signing the Affordable Care Act, signing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act, being a Muslim (again, by your racist uncle)
Quotable: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

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