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Hail to the Chief: One Great Article About Every U.S. President

Take a trip through American history with this chronological collection featuring one fascinating thing to read about every person who has ever served as POTUS.

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Forty-five people have served as President of the United States across 46 presidential administrations (Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms—more on that below, plus the sordid sex scandal that nearly brought him down). We’ve curated one great story or essay about every single one of them. Impress your friends by getting to know obscure facts about lesser-known presidents like Martin Van Buren—the diminutive architect of the Democratic Party known as the “Little Magician”—or Rutherford B. Hayes—mostly forgotten in the U.S., but a legend in Paraguay. Or learn something new about giants like George Washington, who was surprisingly unpopular toward the end of his second term.

Illustration by FrankRamspott/Getty Images

The Last Founder

Harry Kollatz Jr.Tina Eshleman
Richmond Magazine

An ‘era of good feelings’ followed James Monroe’s inauguration 200 years ago—but shadows loomed.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Party Hack

James M. Lundberg

Why did the famous novelist (pictured left) agree to write a campaign biography for Franklin Pierce, an infamously bad president?

This Guilty Land: Every Possible Lincoln

Eric Foner
London Review of Books

It seems safe to assume that even the most diligent researcher will not be able to discover significant new material about Lincoln—a diary, say, or previously unknown speeches and letters. Instead the biographer must take an original interpretative approach.

Hating on Herbert Hoover

Nicholas Lemann
The New Yorker

He was a brilliant manager, a wizard of logistics, and an extraordinarily effective humanitarian. How come we remember him as a failure?

The Art of the New Deal

Rebecca Onion

How an inexperienced New Yorker famous for his name emerged from the contested 1932 convention to win the presidency.

The Pardon

Barry Werth
Smithsonian Magazine

President Gerald R. Ford’s priority was to unite a divided nation. The decision that defined his term proved how difficult that would be.

Jimmy Carter for Higher Office

Michael Paterniti

Ex-presidents are supposed to gently retire. Make a life of lucrative speeches, or stay home and paint. But for nearly 40 years, Jimmy Carter has refused to fade away.

The Road to Reagandom

Jacob Weisberg

How Ronald Reagan’s eight-year gig as the host of General Electric Theater sparked his conservative conversion and became the genesis of his political career.

The Remaking of Donald Trump

Joshua Green

In the multicultural days of The Apprentice, he rose to a level of popularity with minorities that the GOP could only dream of. Then he torched it all to prepare for a hard-right run at the presidency.