The most common first name for a U.S. president is James, followed by John and then William. Six U.S. presidents have been called James, although Jimmy Carter was the only one who did not serve in the nineteenth century. Five presidents have been called John; most recently John Fitzgerald Kennedy, while John is also the middle name of the incumbent President Donald Trump.
Middle names were rarely given in the U.S.' early years, however the practice became more common throughout the nineteenth century. Three U.S. presidents actually went by their middle names in their adulthood, namely Stephen Grover Cleveland, Thomas Woodrow Wilson and David Dwight Eisenhower. Several presidents also shared their middle names with other presidents' surnames, including Ronald Wilson Reagan and William Jefferson Clinton. Coincidentally, there were two U.S. presidents who had just the initial "S." as their middle name, these were; Harry S. Truman, whose S represented his grandfathers (Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young); and Ulysses S. Grant, whose S was added to his name through a clerical error (likely due to his mother's maiden name; Simpson) when being enrolled in West Point Military Academy, but the initial stuck and he kept it throughout the rest of his life.
Five surnames have been shared by U.S. presidents, and four of these pairs have been related. Adams and Bush are the names of the two father-son pairs (the Adams pair also share their first name; the Bush pair share a first and a middle name), while William Henry Harrison was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison. Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt were fifth cousins, however FDR's marriage to Theodore's niece, Eleanor, made him a nephew-in law (Theodore even gave Eleanor away on her wedding day). James Madison and Zachary Taylor were also second cousins. Multiple other presidents are distant cousins from one another, often several times removed (George W. Bush and Barack Obama are technically tenth cousins, twice removed), and a number of presidents have become related by marriage. The only presidents to share a surname and not be related are Andrew Johnson and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Most common first names and surnames of U.S. presidents from 1789 to 2021
The list of presidents and their full names are as follows (with shared names in bold):
1: George Washington
2: John Adams 3: Thomas Jefferson 4: James Madison Jr.
5: James Monroe
6: John Quincy Adams 7: Andrew Jackson
8: Martin Van Buren
9: William Henry Harrison 10: John Tyler Jr.
11: James Knox Polk
12: Zachary Taylor
13: Millard Fillmore
14: Franklin Pierce
15: James Buchanan Jr.
16: Abraham Lincoln
17: Andrew Johnson 18: Ulysses S. Grant
19: Rutherford Birchard Hayes
20: James Abram Garfield
21: Chester Alan Arthur
22+24: Stephen Grover Cleveland
23: Benjamin Harrison 25: William McKinley Jr.
26: Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
27: William Howard Taft
28: Thomas Woodrow Wilson 29: Warren Gamaliel Harding
30: John Calvin Coolidge Jr.
31: Herbert Clark Hoover
32: Franklin Delano Roosevelt 33: Harry S. Truman
34: Dwight David Eisenhower
35: John Fitzgerald Kennedy
36: Lyndon Baines Johnson 37: Richard Milhous Nixon
38: Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr.
39: James Earl Carter Jr.
40: Ronald Wilson Raegan
41: George Herbert Walker Bush 42: William Jefferson Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III)
43: George Walker Bush 44: Barack Hussein Obama II
45: Donald John Trump
46: Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.
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Reader's Digest. (November 9, 2020). Most common first names and surnames of U.S. presidents from 1789 to 2021 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1124390/us-presidents-names/
Reader's Digest. "Most common first names and surnames of U.S. presidents from 1789 to 2021." Chart. November 9, 2020. Statista. Accessed November 27, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1124390/us-presidents-names/
Reader's Digest. (2020). Most common first names and surnames of U.S. presidents from 1789 to 2021. Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: November 27, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1124390/us-presidents-names/
Reader's Digest. "Most Common First Names and Surnames of U.S. Presidents from 1789 to 2021." Statista, Statista Inc., 9 Nov 2020, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1124390/us-presidents-names/
Reader's Digest, Most common first names and surnames of U.S. presidents from 1789 to 2021 Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1124390/us-presidents-names/ (last visited November 27, 2022)