Throughout American history, presidents have served without a college degree. Those who did not have a college degree include George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman, and Woodrow Wilson. Learn more about them in this article! But, if you want to know who is the most recent president without a college degree?
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States, did not have a college degree when he was elected in 1837. His father, Abraham Van Buren, was a farmer and a tavern keeper. His mother, Maria Hoes Van Alen, was a Dutch descendant. The family had four children, one of whom became Van Buren’s personal assistant. His mother died at the age of 36 of tuberculosis, leaving the president a widowed father of four young children. Although not discussed in the official biography of the president, Van Buren’s family must have experienced great trauma in the years following his mother’s death.
Van Buren continued to maintain the political alliances Jackson had made during his presidency. This helped maintain good Anglo-American and Canada-United States relations during this period. However, his political loyalty and intentions were often secret, prompting many critics to label him as devious and unprincipled.
Woodrow Wilson is the only president to have been elected without a college degree. He didn’t receive an undergraduate degree and instead decided to pursue a doctorate in history and political science. He enrolled in a doctoral program at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, which was modeled after German research universities. Upon graduating, Wilson received a Ph.D. in government and history and started teaching at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. As a professor, he honed his writing skills and became an essayist.
Wilson was dyslexic and did not learn to read until he was 10. He did not attend elementary school, but his passion for literature and politics drove him to pursue higher education. After completing his undergraduate studies at Davidson College near Charlotte, North Carolina, he later transferred to Princeton University. While there, he took up a debate club and edited the college newspaper. He also published a scholarly essay comparing American government with the British parliamentary system.
Wilson, an academic reformer, restructured Princeton’s undergraduate curriculum. He suggested a new form of education, which included special faculty called preceptors. He subsequently recruited fifty outstanding young instructors and started the preceptorial system.
Harry Truman, the most recent president to hold the office, was born in 1884 and never completed a college education. His parents were poor farmers and could not afford to send him to college. In his youth, he worked as a farmhand, bookkeeper, and haberdasher. Later, he joined the army and served in the artillery. Despite this lack of formal education, Truman managed to secure a job as a mail clerk for a Kansas City newspaper. In addition, he spent more than a decade helping his father manage his farm, performing manual labor and monitoring finances.
After returning home from World War I, he sought out business opportunities. He and his wife Bess settled in Independence, MO. At age 35, he teamed up with Eddie Jacobson to open a haberdashery in Kansas City. During this time, he was an accountant, and his business partner was a buyer. They financed the store’s start-up with several loans and saw some initial success.
Andrew Jackson, the 29th president, was born in 1767 in the Carolinas to a Scots-Irish family. Though he considered himself a South Carolina native, his early education was interrupted by the British invasion of the western Carolinas in 1780-81. Jackson was captured by the British when he was only thirteen and suffered permanent scarring and smallpox.
After the Revolution, Andrew Jackson became a military general and then retired to his house at Hermitage near Nashville. In 1817, he was called back into active service but with vague instructions. In his first month of active duty, he invaded Florida and appointed a subordinate military governor there. His actions led to sharp protest from Spain and a cabinet crisis in Washington.
Andrew Jackson was born in poverty but later became the largest landholder in Tennessee. However, he retained some of the prejudice of frontiersmen against people of wealth. Although he was the first president to be elected without a college degree, Jackson had no specific political program upon entering the White House. However, he did benefit from rising democratic sentiment, which was bolstered by the admission of six new states to the Union, including Tennessee. In addition to this, many older states expanded their suffrage laws, allowing new political leaders to appeal to mass voters.
James Monroe was the fifth president of the United States, and the only one without a college degree. He served in the Continental Congress and studied law under Thomas Jefferson. The intimate relationship between Monroe and Jefferson helped shape his political career. In addition to the influence of Jefferson, Monroe had a close friendship with James Madison.
James Monroe attended the College of William and Mary and left school to join the Continental Army. He went on to become a governor, senator, and president. He also studied medicine. Many college campuses in the United States now have buildings named after him. This is one reason he has a place in American history.
James Monroe was born in 1758, and attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. While attending college, he became involved in the revolutionary activities. In 1775, he escaped from the British Governor’s Palace with a small group of rebels. He later joined General George Washington’s army as an officer. During the War of Independence, he was severely wounded in the Battle of Trenton.
Andrew Jackson’s education
Andrew Jackson was a first-generation American and the son of Irish immigrants. As president, he made strides to improve the country, both socially and politically. He also became a national hero during the War of 1812 and the Creek War. Some historians have called Jackson the first modern president. Others have criticized him for his lack of consideration for other viewpoints.
Although his early years were disadvantaged, Andrew Jackson still received a good education. He attended a Presbyterian school and an academy operated by Presbyterian minister James White Stephenson. His mother had hoped that Andrew would become a minister. During his school years, he learned to read, write, and keep accounts. As a boy, Andrew was also sinewy and agile. He had sandy colored hair. The early years of his life were difficult, but his family supported him and he was able to get a good education.
Andrew Jackson’s education changed dramatically when the American Revolution broke out. He was nine years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. The conflict did not reach his family’s settlement in Waxhaw until 1780. By that time, there were bands of British tories and redcoats roaming the countryside. Banastre Tarleton, who led the attack, had about 300 British soldiers ravaging the Waxhaws.
Andrew Jackson’s wife Lucy
Andrew Jackson is one of the most famous Americans. His father Andrew Jackson, Sr., died in a logging accident when he was just a baby, but his mother was a strong and devoted woman. She raised her children, Andrew Jackson, Jr., and his two brothers at the home of her sister. Later in life, she married Dr. John M. Lawrence and had eight more children.
Andrew Jackson served two terms as president. After leaving office, he retired to his Hermitage estate outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Even after his retirement, he remained a major force in national politics. He was instrumental in the election of Democrats Martin Van Buren and James K. Polk in 1836 and 1844. His last election as president took place in 1845, and he died at the age of 78. But he was a fascinating character. Although his age may not have made him a primary candidate today, he is still an admirable figure.
Andrew Jackson was an ardent advocate of prohibition. His infamous “Cherokee Removal Act” forced the Cherokees to leave Georgia. As a result, about 25 percent of the Cherokee population were forced to migrate west.
Zachary Taylor was elected president of the United States in 1824. He was the first president to win the presidency without a college degree. In the general election, Taylor won against Democratic Party candidates William Orlando Butler and Lewis Cass. He also defeated a third-party effort led by former president Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams, Sr., who ran under the Free Soil Party banner.
Taylor was born in Virginia and raised on a tobacco plantation outside of Louisville, Kentucky. Although he only had a rudimentary education, he grew up to become a successful military man and a future president. His achievements earned him the nickname “Old Rough and Ready.”
Taylor was a hero of the Mexican-American War. He was also a slave owner, and his wealth and status made him a popular candidate for the presidency. However, he died only sixteen months after taking office.