Virginia: The Mother of Presidents
As the first, largest and most prosperous of the British colonies in America, Virginia provided four of the first five presidents of the United States — eight in all, more than any other state.
Enjoy a trip to any historic home, church, tavern or other building frequented by a president and you'll gain important insight into the character of these early American leaders: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson.
Our Nation’s First President (1789-1797)
Birthplace: Wakefield in Westmoreland County on February 22, 1732, now site of the George Washington Birthplace National Monument
Childhood Home: Ferry Farm in Stafford County from age 6 to 22
Home: Mount Vernon
Died: December 14, 1799 at Mount Vernon
Burial: Mount Vernon
Married: Martha Dandridge Custis
- Was a master surveyor, a journey he began at age 16.
- President of the Constitutional Convention.
- Owned and operated a commercial distillery, producing almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey in 1799.
- Signed into law the first copyright law, the Copyright Act of 1790.
- Was an honorary citizen of France, received in 1792
Our Nation’s Third President (1801-1809)
Birthplace: Albemarle County on April 13, 1743
Childhood Home: Lived at Tuckahoe Plantation in Richmond from age 2 to 9
Second Home: Poplar Forest
Died: July 4, 1826 in Charlottesville
Married: Martha Wayles
- Wrote the Declaration of Independence.
- Father of the University of Virginia and served as its first president at age 81.
- Was an archaeologist, architect, wine aficionado and somewhat of a founding foodie.
- Kept two vineyards at Monticello.
- Doubled the size of America through the Louisiana Purchase.
Our Nation’s Fourth President (1809-1817)
Birthplace: Belle Grove Planation in King George on March 16, 1751
Died: June 28, 1836 in Montpelier Station, VA
Married: Dolley Payne Todd
- Father of the Constitution.
- Wrote the Bill of Rights.
- Last living signer of the Constitution.
- First President to have an Inaugural Ball.
- He was considered to be the shortest president at 5’4”.
- Was Princeton University’s first graduate student.
- James Monroe and Robert R. Livingston conducted the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase in Paris.
- His portrait adorned the $5,000 bill that was in circulation until 1946.
Our Nation’s Fifth President (1817-1825)
Birthplace: Westmoreland County on April 28, 1758
Died: July 4, 1831 in New York
Burial: Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond
Married: Elizabeth Jane Kortright
- Oversaw the acquisition of the Florida territories.
- His first presidential term was coined the “Era of Good Feelings.”
- Was a law apprentice for Thomas Jefferson.
- Was the first, and only, person in history to hold two cabinet positions at once: Secretary of State and Secretary of War under President James Madison.
- The last of the Founding Fathers to serve as a president.
- The only president, aside from Washington, to run unopposed.
William Henry Harrison
Our Nation’s Ninth President (1841)
Birthplace: Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County on February 9, 1773
Died: April 4, 1841 in Washington, D.C.
Married: Anna Elizabeth Symmes
- His inauguration speech is the longest to date.
- His tenure as president lasted 33 days.
- His father, Benjamin Harrison V, signed the Declaration of Independence and served three terms as governor of Virginia.
- His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, would become the 23rd President of the U.S.
Our Nation’s 10th President (1841-1845)
Birthplace: Greenway in Charles City County on March 29, 1790
Home: Sherwood Forest
Died: January 18, 1862 in Richmond, VA
Burial: Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond
Married: Letitia Christian, Julia Gardiner
- Set the standard for presidential succession after the death of William Henry Harrison.
- Was nicknamed “His Accidency.”
- Largely responsible for the annexation of Texas.
- Was the Chancellor of the College of William and Mary.
- Was friend and college roommate of Thomas Jefferson
Our Nation’s 12th President (1849-1850)
Birthplace: Montebello in Orange County, VA on November 24, 1784
Died: July 9, 1850 in Washington, D.C.
Married: Margaret Mackall Smith
- Never attended college.
- Was a career military officer for 40 years (1808-1848) before becoming president.
- The Whig Party nominated him to be president without his knowledge, sending him notification without paying for postage. He refused to pay the postage and did not find out about the nomination for weeks.
- Directly descended from pilgrims who arrived aboard the Mayflower in 1620.
Our Nation’s 28th President (1913-1921)
Birthplace: Staunton, VA on December 28, 1856, now site of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum
Died: February 23, 1924 in Washington, D.C.
Married: Ellen Axson, Edith Bolling
- Was the first president to receive a PhD, which he got in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University.
- Created the Fourteen Points, one of which called for the creation of a worldwide association of nations that would later become the League of Nations in the Treaty of Versailles.
- Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919.
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