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U.S. presidents - statistics & facts

Since George Washington’s election as the first President of the United States (POTUS) in 1789, the U.S. has had a total of 44 men serve in its highest position of power. The U.S. president is the Commander-In-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, and acts as both the head of government and head of state (which is very rare among developed nations). In early years, the power vested in the presidency was more limited than it is today. The Founding Fathers were committed to establishing a republic and unwilling to replicate the European monarchical systems, which they viewed as tyrannical and oppressive. The powers of the president have gradually expanded, particularly in the twentieth century during times of war, national emergency, and through executive orders. Since the U.S. emerged as a global superpower following both World Wars, the POTUS is now generally regarded as the most powerful and influential figure in international politics, with command of the world’s strongest military.

U.S. presidents have come from a variety of backgrounds, although there are many similar and recurring trends throughout history. For example, all U.S. presidents have been male and Christian, and all-but-one have been white. Most attended university, and fifteen graduated from Ivy League institutions; after completing their studies the majority went on to practice law, with 26 of the 44 presidents working as lawyers before becoming president. Over two thirds of presidents served in the armed forces in some capacity, with multiple presidents fighting in the Revolutionary War, Civil War and Second World War. Upon taking office, 19 U.S. presidents have been members of the Republican Party, while 16 were Democrats; the past century has seen a relatively even split for time spent in office by each party. On average, the POTUS has been in his mid-fifties when first taking office, with ages ranging between 43 and 71 years, and Democrat presidents generally being younger than Republicans. The U.S. constitution states that Congress may impeach and remove a president from office for committing an impeachable offense. Three presidents have been impeached, but none were removed from office.

Five U.S. presidents are still alive today, and life expectancy among all who have served is roughly 72 years old. Eight U.S. presidents died while in office; four were assassinated, the other four died from natural causes. Historical revisionism in recent years has changed the ways that presidents’ legacies are viewed today, particularly in relation to slavery, the treatment of indigenous Americans and civil rights. The next presidential election will take place on November 3, 2020 and will likely see either the re-election of the 45th president, Donald Trump, or the election of the 46th president, Joe Biden.

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U.S. presidents 1789-2020

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