Special Report

Each President’s Path to the Oval Office

Only 45 people have ever become president of the United States. All 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.

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 honor of President’s Day and in recognition of the many roads taken to the nation’s highest office, 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed each president’s path to the Oval Office.

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

Not all 45 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. Eisenhower’s ability to delegate responsibility borne from his military experience as well as upgrading the Office of Congressional Relations helped him in his dealings with Congress. These are the presidents with the best and worst relationships with Congress.

Of those 12 who were generals, five served in the Civil War and all 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.

What all presidents have in common is that they all had their quirks. The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, for example, was very passionate about meteorology and consulted an astrologist. Here are the most surprising facts about every American president.