Marching Presidents aren’t nearly as adorable as marching penguins, but we would love to have Morgan Freeman narrate this article! The Presidential birthdays of March are upon us, which marks a full year of them!
The first Marcher is James Madison, the fourth President of the USA and cousin of George Washington, born March 16, 1751 on a tobacco plantation in Virginia. He had eleven siblings, but five of them died by the age of 7. He was very scholarly, sometimes to an unhealthy extent, and attended what is now Princeton University in New Jersey. He helped draft the Constitution and wrote the Bill of Rights, and is remembered as the “Father” of both. He declared the War of 1812, which proved mostly inconclusive but produced our national anthem. At 5’4”, he was the shortest President, but his influence on the development of our country was enormous!
Not far behind Madison is Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson, born March 15, 1767 to Irish immigrants from the peculiarly-named village of Boneybefore. His actual birthplace is disputed because his mother was traveling at the time, and North and South Carolina’s borders were not officially established. As a General, he battled both the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend and the British in the War of 1812. He took office in 1829 and practically founded the Democratic Party, though his belief in a limited federal government better reflects the views of modern Libertarians. To that effect, he opposed the national bank and eventually allowed it to collapse. His aggressive nature often put him in duels. In one such duel, he took a bullet in the arm from future senator Thomas Benton. He did not have the bullet removed until 19 years later, upon which he jokingly attempted to return it to Benton.
Three Presidents later came John Tyler, the first Vice President to succeed the presidency following the death of the President. He entered the world on March 29, 1790 in Charles City County, Virginia—the same place where his predecessor, William Henry Harrison, was born and raised. He became a lawyer at age 19—too young, according to the bar, but the presiding judge didn’t check his age. His unusual ascent to President meant that some people never accepted him as more than a VP; their unflattering nickname for him was “His Accidency.” When he twice vetoed legislature to recreate the national bank (that Jackson had dismantled), his entire cabinet resigned except for Daniel Webster. Even his death went unmourned in Washington; after his presidency he supported the Confederacy throughout the Civil War.
Closing up the ranks is Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, and the only one to serve non-consecutive terms. Caldwell, New Jersey welcomed his birth on March 18, 1837. All of his life he was very well liked, which led to his winning popular vote for presidency three times (and the people wanted him to run again!). He was the first to marry in the White House and his wife became the youngest First Lady in history at age 21. In 1893, Cleveland needed surgery for oral cancer but, because of the Panic of 1893, decided to keep it quiet. He arranged to board a friends yacht, where a team of surgeons actually removed his upper jaw. In 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated to him.
The Presidents go marching month by month, hurrah, hurrah! Read about February’s Presidents here!