Saturday, November 06, 2004

States claiming the most presidents

Question: Which states can claim to be the home or birthplace of the most presidents?
From: Susan G. of San Antonio, TX
Date: November 6, 2004

Gleaves answers: Just three states have given the United States half of her presidents.

Virginia, long nicknamed the "Mother of Presidents," was the birthplace of eight of our 42 presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson. There is a whimsical painting hanging in the School of Education at the University of Virginia that shows all eight Old Dominion presidents having an imaginary encounter on the porch of George Washington's home, Mount Vernon. It's definitely worth seeing if you are on the campus in Charlottesville.

Ohio comes in second, as the Buckeye State was the birthplace of seven of our 42 presidents, every one of them Republican: Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, and Warren G. Harding. Ohio also likes to claim William Henry Harrison as one of her own; although born in Virginia, he later settled in Ohio. This fact justifies why the Buckeye State vies with Old Dominion for the coveted title, "Mother of Presidents."

New York comes next, as the Empire State can boast of six native sons going on to the White House: Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Two states are next in line, having given the U.S. four presidents each. Massachusetts was the home of John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge (technically born in Vermont), and John F. Kennedy.

Texas also has bragging rights. (What else is new, considering it's Texas?!) The former republic has been the birthplace or home to four U.S. presidents: Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

Tennessee claims three U.S. presidents: Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson. And California can claim three presidents: Herbert Hoover, Richard M. Nixon, and Ronald Reagan.

Adding it all up, you can see that seven states have given our nation six of every seven presidents:
- Virginia 8 (counting strictly birthplace)
- Ohio 7 (counting strictly birthplace)
- New York 6
- Massachusetts 4
- Texas 4
- Tennessee 3
- California 3

It is curious that some historically large states whose origins were in the colonial era have not contributed more of the nation's chief executives. For instance, Pennsylvania -- the same state that saw the creation of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution; the same colony that became the Keystone State -- was home to only one president, and not a distinguished one at that: James Buchanan. It is true that Dwight Eisenhower bought a farm in Pennsylvania and lived there in retirement, but that was after he had served in the White House.

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