Commander in Chief, Leader of the Free World, the Most Powerful Person on the Globe—these monikers have been placed on the president—the head of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States of America. Simply stated, the president is the leader of the country.

Throughout American history, presidents have served as the driving forces behind the American government, lightning rods for praise and criticism and the head of the body politic. Forty-four men (no women, yet) have occupied this prestigious position with varying degrees of successes and failures. Some were born into prominent political families, while others grew up in abject poverty. Some were great communicators, while others relied on their subordinates to do much of their work. Many were former war heroes, while others were career politicians. A few were seemingly preordained by birth to become president, while others were accidents of history. A select few were neither and had relatively little public experience at all.

Many of the presidents were lawyers, others were military generals. Many had served as a U.S. senator, a state governor, or as a member in the U.S. House of Representatives. Some had interesting early careers, whether it be as a farmer or a Hollywood actor. Some lived to a ripe old age, becoming nonagenarians. Others died in office—sometimes by an assassin’s bullet. A few achieved political or personal successes after leaving office such as becoming Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court or returning to the U.S. House of Representatives. Still others drifted into oblivion, ostracized by the current tides of public opinion.

The second edition of the Handy Presidents Answer Book examines this special group of men—their early lives, jobs, political careers, their presidencies and their post-presidential years. The first edition of the Handy Presidents Answer Book organized the material by topic as opposed to by person. In the second edition, we have taken a different approach, focusing more on the people who occupied the Oval Office. We think this will make it easier for the student or researcher who wants to learn facts and material about a particular president or a particular point in American history.

Just like other books in the informative “Handy” series, the Handy Presidents Answer Book proceeds on the reader-friendly, question-and-answer format. You will learn not only matters of pressing political importance but also interesting matters of trivia and tidbits.


I would like to thank Roger Janecke of Visible Ink Press for his vision and for granting me another writing opportunity with the “Handy” series. I enjoyed writing the Handy Presidents Answer Book, second edition, as much as my two earlier works in the series: The Handy Law Answer Book and The Handy Supreme Court Answer Book. I would also like to thank Kevin Hile at Visible Ink for his superior editing abilities. I would like to thank my wife, Carla Hudson, for her excellent research skills. Thanks to all of my students at Middle Tennessee State University, Nashville School of Law, and Vanderbilt Law School, who enrich my experience with teaching various legal subjects on a daily basis.

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