Special Report

Each President's Path to the Oval Office

Only 44 people have ever become presidents of the United States. All 44 were men; all but Barack Obama were white; and all but John F. Kennedy were Protestant. Most of them were lawyers or had a background in law.

Not all 44 set out to be president. Twelve men on this list were generals, including Dwight Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant, and leveraged their leadership experience and success in the military to become president. Of those 12, five served in the Civil War and all five were from Ohio. Some were businessmen like George W. Bush and Harry Truman. Some were engineers, like Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter. It would be hard to define Theodore Roosevelt, who was a cowboy, naturalist, soldier, and conservationist, among other pursuits.

There has never been one direct path to the presidency, and the nation has profited from the group of 44’s varied and diverse experiences before they became America’s commander in chief. In recognition of their many roads taken to the nation’s highest office, 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed each president’s path to the Oval Office.

We compiled our list based on resource material from sources such as history.com, millercenter.org, constitutioncenter.org, whitehousehistory.org, and britannica.com.

Click here to see each president’s path to the Oval Office.