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President’s Book!
#1 George Washington
Years in Office: 1789 – 1797
Political Party – None
• Set many Precedents
• Proclaimed American neutrality
• Put down the Whiskey Rebellion
• Farewell Address
1)Warned against national debt
2)Warned against foreign alliances
3)Warned about political parties
Precedents (sets the standard for how things are done) include:
Dressing in civilian clothing (even though Commander-in-Chief); Using
Department heads as advisors (the “cabinet”); giving the State of the
Union speech; the inaugural; limiting Presidential service to two terms
in office; using the title “Mr. President.”
Kept America out of the war between England and France
Reinforced the authority of the national government (put down a tax
Warned against foreign alliances, national debt, and political parties.
#2 John Adams
Years in Office: 1797 to 1801
Political Party: Federalist
Best known for:
• Election of 1796 (Showed
Weakness of Electoral System);
• XYZ Affair;
• Alien and Sedition Acts;
• State’s Rights Crisis;
• Continued Neutrality
This election illustrated a flaw; the authors of the Constitution did not
envision the existence of political parties and therefore did not
consider the possibility of a President from one party and a vicepresident from another party!
To negotiate a treaty to stop the impressment of American sailors, the
president sent ambassadors to France. French negotiators demanded
a bribe and a loan before receiving the American ambassadors!
Everyone was outraged, but the president would not identify the
French negotiators!
These acts made it much easier for the President to exile an immigrant
and made it harder to become a citizen of the US. The acts also made
it illegal to criticize government officials! (NOT constitutional!!!!)
Virginia and Kentucky voted to NULLIFY the Alien and Sedition Acts in
those states (also not constitutional!!!). This is not the last time the
subject of nullification will come up!
Continued the policy of Washington regarding America’s neutrality in
the war between England and France!
#3 Thomas Jefferson
1801 to 1809
• Economic Policy
• Marbury V Madison (1803)
• Louisiana Purchase (1803)
• Embargo Act (Continued
Believed in a small-scale, agrarian economy with little trade and little
or no manufacturing. The president did away with the whiskey tax,
reduced the tariff, shrink the military, and paid off most of the
national debt.
The Supreme Court case that established the precedent of Judicial
Review. William Marbury had been appointed to the post of Justice of
the Peace of the District of Columbia, but Secretary of State James
Madison refused to deliver the commission. Marbury sued Madison,
hoping to force the Supreme Court into enforcing the commission
under the Judiciary Act of 1789. Instead, the Court ruled that the
Judiciary Act was unconstitutional and the Court had no jurisdiction in
the matter!
The President sends two negotiators to France hoping to buy the Port
of New Orleans (authorized to spend up to $7.5 million). Napoleon
offers them the entire territory for $15 million instead, so they strike
the best real estate deal in the history of the country!
Hoping to stop the impressment of American sailors by both France
and England, the president signs legislation that makes all foreign trade
#4 James Madison
1809 to 1817
• Father of the Constitution
• Author (one of three) of The
Federalist Papers
• War of 1812
• Treaty of Ghent
This president led the Virginia delegation during the constitutional
convention, came up with “the Virginia Plan,” and wrote most of the
Constitution and ALL of the Bill of Rights.
Leading Federalist (a person in FAVOR of the new constitution) who
wrote essays in favor of the constitution (“The Federalist Papers”)
Convinced by “War Hawks” in Congress to sign a declaration of war
against Great Britain because of the impressment issue and the
incitement of Native Americans against US settlements on the western
Signed the treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812 (“Nothing was
adjusted; nothing was settled.”)
#5 James Monroe
1817 to 1825
• Supreme Court Cases; McCulloch V.
Maryland and Gibbons V. Ogden
• Adams-Onis Treaty
• Missouri Compromise
• Mexican Independence
• Monroe Doctrine
• Presided over “The Era of Good
Supreme Court case; the Court rules that states do not have the right
to interfere with Federal institutions within their borders (cites the
Supremacy Clause)
Supreme Court case; the Court rules that states cannot regulate
interstate commerce, only the Federal government can do that (citing
the Commerce Clause)
Signs a treaty that defines the border between the Louisiana territory
(part of the US since 1803) and Spanish Texas. Spain cedes Florida to
the US in exchange for the payment of damage claims of up to $5
The US Congress allows Missouri into the Union as a slave state but
disallows slavery above the line created by Missouri’s southern border
(36o 30’ North Latitude).
Mexico rebels against and gains independence from Spain.
The President warns European powers to stay out of the Western
Hemisphere and stop attempts to re-colonize former territories.
An era characterized by political unity (the Federalist party has
disintegrated), economic prosperity, and social progress.
#6 John Quincy Adams
1825 to 1829
•Elected by “Corrupt
Bargain” in the House
of Representatives
•Erie Canal opens
This President, Andrew Jackson, and Henry Clay all run for President
and no winner emerges from the Electoral College, so the election goes
to the House of Representatives. _____________ strikes a bargain
with Henry Clay, who happens to be Speaker of the House of
Representatives, to “twist arms” in the House and convince them to
vote for him. In exchange, _____________ will nominate Henry Clay to
be Secretary of State when he becomes president. Andrew Jackson
calls this a “corrupt bargain!”
#7 Andrew Jackson
1829 to 1837
• War hero (War of 1812)
• First “Western” President
• Elected because of expanded suffrage rights for nonproperty owners
• Known for his “kitchen cabinet” and
“the spoils system”
• Signed “The tariff of Abominations” (causing
“the nullification crisis”
• Signed the Indian Removal Act (Leading to
“The Trail of Tears”)
• Vetoed the bill to re-authorize the Bank of the United
States, leading to “The Bank War”
Commanded American troops at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and at
the Battle of New Orleans; both decisive American victories!
“Western” states include Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, etc. (i.e., any
state that borders the Mississippi for the most part)
Prior to the election of 1828, most states had property requirements
for voting; this requirement had been dropped by all but a few states
as of 1828.
This president, unlike those before him, chose to meet and confer
informally NOT with the heads of federal departments, but with
friends, businessmen, and business associates. These meetings usually
took place in the White House kitchen.
Unlike presidents before him (who kept government officials from
previous administrations for the most part), this president got rid of
the employees of previous administrations and hired his political allies,
friends, and supporters. (“To the victor goes the spoils!”)
This president signed the highest tariff in the nation’s history to protect
American manufacturers. The tariff didn’t affect people in the North
(where most of the manufacturing in the country was located), but it
DID affect the people in the South (which was mostly agricultural) and
was seen as a “South only” tax by southerners.
South Carolina voted to nullify (cancel) the Tariff of Abominations.
This president promised to send federal troops to enforce it unless
they repealed their nullification vote. Cooler heads prevailed
(Congress reduced the tariff AND South Carolina repealed their
nullification vote), but the crisis added to the sectionalism that fueled
resentment between North and South.
This president, thinking he was protecting Native Americans from
violence, signed the Indian Removal Act to force Native Americans
from their lands in the Southeastern U.S.
The Cherokee Nation sued the state of Georgia, insisting that the
government had no authority over their sovereign nation. The
Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the Indian Removal Act was
This President ignored the ruling of the Supreme Court and ordered
federal troops to force native Americans from their lands in accordance
with the Indian Removal Act. The forced removal of Native Americans
from their homes caused terrible hardship, exposure, starvation and
death for thousands of Native Americans.
Citing his reasons (the Bank benefits only the wealthy, profits from the
Bank should go back to the American people, NOT to the directors of
the Bank), this president vetoed legislation to re-authorize the Bank of
the United States.
#8 Martin Van Buren
1837 to 1841
•Panic of 1837 (economic
upheaval caused by
•Economic Depression
This president was left holding the bag when Jackson left office,
presiding over the first economic depression in the county’s history. Of
course, Jackson’s actions against the Bank of the United States were
the cause of the upheaval, but Jackson was long gone!
#9 William Henry Harrison
Whig Party
1841 to 1841
• Gave a lengthy speech at his inauguration
in freezing weather without a proper coat,
caught pneumonia and died
30 days into his term
• First U.S. President to die while in office
Ignoring the advice of friends and counselors, this president gave a 2hour inaugural address in freezing weather with too little clothing,
caught pneumonia and died 30 days into his term. He was the first
president to die while in office.
#10 John Tyler
Whig Party
1841 to 1845
• Completed the term of Harrison
• Refused the pleas of Texas for
annexation (though he did sign the
joint resolution passed by Congress
shortly before his term expired)
This president completed the term of the first president to die while in
office, but did little else other than ignore the pleas of Texas for
annexation (just as Martin Van Buren had done).
#11 James K. Polk
1845 to 1849
• Promised to serve only one term if elected
• The President of Manifest Destiny
• Presided over the annexation of Texas (1845)
• Negotiated with England, gaining the Oregon
territory (1846)
• Presided over the Mexican-American War
• Signed the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (gaining
the territory known as “The Mexican Cession”)
• Presided over the California Gold Rush
First used by journalist John O’Sullivan, this term means that it was
God’s will that the United States occupy the entire continent from the
Atlantic to the Pacific.
This president promised to annex Texas, but the Joint Resolution of
Congress to do so was actually signed by this president’s predecessor.
Campaigned on the slogan “46,40 or fight!” meaning that unless
England gave up the Oregon territory to a line at 46o40’ North Latitude,
the U.S. would go to war with England over the territory. A negotiated
treaty split the territory roughly in half with England keeping the
northern portion of the territory and the U.S. taking the southern half.
This president sent American troops into a region of dispute with
Mexico between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers, leading to
skirmishes between the forces of the two countries. This president
called for a declaration of war stating, “Mexico has shed American
blood on American soil!”
After only two years, Mexico was forced to surrender. The treaty that
ended the war, the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo resulted in “The
Mexican Cession,” a region of land that contains all of present-day
California, All of Arizona, all of Nevada and Utah, and portions of
present-day New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.
In 1849 (one year after the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo), gold is
discovered in California!