A president’s education is usually a major consideration for voters, but in fact, a number of the first US presidents never finished college.
George Washington, for instance, received a surveyor’s certificate but ended his formal schooling when his father died. Still, he believed strongly in education and left money and stocks to promote educational accessibility in his will.
Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the United States, was one of the few US leaders who did not have a college degree. He was born into poverty in Raleigh, North Carolina, and learned to read and write from an apprentice.
Despite his lack of education, Johnson had an amazing political career that began as an alderman in Greeneville, Tennessee. He later served in the Tennessee House of Representatives and Senate.
As the President of the United States, Andrew Johnson was responsible for the nation’s finances and the government’s actions during the Civil War. He also acted as the leader of the Reconstruction efforts after the Civil War.
He was a good public speaker who was known for his anti-slavery beliefs and his support of states’ rights. He advocated for the common man and was a strong opponent of non-essential government spending.
His lenient policies toward the South embittered Radical Republicans in Congress, and his veto of Reconstruction measures antagonized them, which led to his downfall and impeachment. He died from a stroke in July 1875, at the age of 66.
A self-educated tailor, Andrew Johnson was an adept stump speaker who championed the common man and vilified plantation aristocrats. He pushed for passage of the Homestead Act to provide free land to poor Americans.
As the first President after Abraham Lincoln’s death, Andrew Johnson had a daunting task ahead of him. He needed to bind the country’s wounds and work with a Congress that was controlled by Radical Republicans. However, he managed to achieve his goal, though he did face a lot of controversy along the way.
Taylor was a military leader who became a national hero after winning several major battles during the Mexican-American War. Despite being outnumbered by the Mexican Army, Taylor won several victories and secured the support of the American public.
Born on November 24, 1784, near Barboursville, Virginia, Taylor was the eldest child of a plantation owner and his wife. He was a professional soldier, rising through the ranks of the U.S. Army and eventually becoming a major general.
In his young adulthood, Taylor moved westward from his home in Virginia to Kentucky and Louisville. He then settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he owned and operated a plantation that included hundreds of enslaved men, women, and children.
During the 1840s, Taylor fought in several Indian Wars and was named “Old Rough and Ready.” He also defended American interests in Mexico, where he won two major battles against the Mexican army.
Then, in 1849, he was elected president of the United States. Despite his lack of political experience, he won the election, largely because he was a popular figure among Americans.
While he served as president, there were numerous challenges facing the nation. One of the most pressing was the sectional debate over slavery and its expansion into the newly won western territories, especially California and Nuevo Mexico.
As a slaveholder and Southerner, Taylor opposed the expansion of slavery into these new states. He believed that it would lead to an armed conflict between the North and the South, and was prepared to use military force against secessionists.
In 1850, Taylor suffered from a stomach disease that ultimately claimed his life. He died just 16 months into his presidency, making him the third-shortest president in history. Today, his remains lie in a family cemetery at Springfield, Kentucky, which is now part of the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.
William Henry Harrison
Harrison was born on February 9, 1773, to a wealthy Virginia planter family. He studied classics and history at Hampden-Sydney College and then began studies in medicine. In 1791 he enlisted in the army, becoming a lieutenant after his first year of service.
As a military officer, Harrison saw action during the Revolutionary War and Indian Wars. He resigned from the Army in 1803 and was appointed Secretary of the Northwest Territory by President John Adams. He then served as governor of the Indiana Territory, an area comprising present-day states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
In this capacity, Harrison pushed through numerous treaties to acquire land for American settlers. These included the purchase of 2 million acres along the Wabash River in 1809, a huge encroachment on Native American lands that led to a fierce Indian resistance.
By the 1820s, American Indian resentment was at an all-time high. The Indians feared that the influx of white settlers would destroy their culture, and they were increasingly aggressive.
After the Indians began to retaliate, Harrison stepped in to protect the new settlements. He attacked an Indian confederacy led by Tecumseh, who threatened the settlers. He and his men successfully repelled the attack but suffered 190 dead and wounded.
This incident became a touchstone for Harrison. It was during his political career that he would become known as “Old Tippecanoe.”
He also remade himself as the anti-Jackson frontrunner of the Whig Party. The image of a hero of the West living in a log cabin with a glass of hard cider was popular and allowed him to win the 1840 presidential election. He also won the Electoral College in a landslide.
William McKinley was born on January 29, 1843, in Niles, Ohio, the seventh child of William and Nancy Allison McKinley (of Irish and Scotch descent). He received his education at Poland Academy and Allegheny College. After serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, McKinley studied law and practiced in Canton, Ohio.
He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1877 and served for 14 years. He became a major force in the Republican Party and was known for his support of protective tariffs.
His legislative efforts helped promote rapid economic growth and the development of manufacturing industries. He also worked to maintain a strong monetary standard based on gold.
A strong advocate of the protectionist trade policy, McKinley was a key figure in implementing a successful tariff measure in 1890. He was re-elected to the House of Representatives in 1893 and again in 1896, a victory that brought him the presidential nomination.
In the Spanish-American War of 1898, McKinley successfully asserted American military and economic power in the western hemisphere. He sent 2,000 troops to China to help put down the Boxer Rebellion and intervened twice in Nicaragua to protect U.S. property interests and thereby laid the foundation for future American expansion in Central America.
Although he was considered a “mediocre” president by most historians, his policies were well-thought out and resulted in the development of a new era of world power for the United States. His administration also saw the country take possession of its first overseas territories.
His success was short-lived though, when he was assassinated by an anarchist in 1901. He had been traveling on a tour of western states when he was shot in the chest at point-blank range by Leon Czolgosz, an unemployed Detroit mill worker.
Harry S. Truman
Harry Truman, who served as President from 1945-1948, is the most recent of the 12 U.S. presidents who did not complete their tertiary education.
Despite this, he did not let his lack of a college degree deter him from his goals. He believed that a person must always learn and grow, no matter what their circumstances.
Truman started school in 1901, graduating from Independence High School in Missouri. He then enrolled in Spalding’s Commercial College to study business, but dropped out after one semester because of financial problems.
He then landed odd jobs until he found employment at two Kansas City banks. He was employed there for five years, but did not have much of an interest in his work.
After a few years of this, Truman left his bank job and returned to farming. He also joined the National Guard and volunteered for World War I.
In 1922, Truman was able to secure a job as a judge with the help of the political boss Thomas Pendergast in Jackson County. He rose from eastern judge to presiding judge in two decades.
During his time as a senator, Truman supported President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs designed to lift the nation out of the Great Depression. He also helped pass laws regulating the railroad, aviation and trucking industries.
In foreign affairs, Truman achieved a series of important measures against the Soviet Union that would define American postwar policy for the rest of the century. These included the Truman Doctrine (1947), the Marshall Plan, the Berlin airlift, and the North Atlantic Treaty.
- What Degree Do You Need to Be a Zoologist? - 2 February, 2023
- Which Global Entry Strategy Has the Highest Degree of Risk? - 2 February, 2023
- Which Algebraic Expression is a Polynomial With a Degree of 4? - 2 February, 2023