Tag Archives: Ronald Reagan

Fascinating Photos of American Presidents – Part Two

I really enjoyed writing my post Fascinating Photos of American Presidents and was thrilled that so many people enjoyed it, so I decided to follow it up with a part two!  Here is another round of fascinating photos of our Commanders-In-Chief!

President Calvin Coolidge

President Photos

Speaking of chiefs, from what I can gather this was likely a proud moment personally for Calvin Coolidge when members of the Sioux tribe honored him in 1927 for his friendly policies towards Native Americans including granting them U.S. Citizenship with the Indian Citizen Act of 1924.  Chauncey Yellow Robe, a descendant of Sitting Bull was the one who suggested Coolidge be inducted into the tribe.  At the Sioux ceremony in North Dakota in 1927, President Coolidge is seen here in a grand ceremonial feathered headdress given to him by Sioux Chief Henry Standing Bear.  It still wasn’t all roses for Native Americans during Coolidge’s presidency as not all oppressive policies were reversed, but it seems President Coolidge felt a moral obligation to do what he could.


President Richard Nixon

President Photos

I have always been fascinated with this scene of President Nixon leaving the White House after his resignation following the Watergate scandal.  I studied the Vietnam War in college and I’ve watched the Frost/Nixon interviews so I am familiar with aspects of his presidency but I haven’t read a Nixon biography yet and I was too young to remember him as President personally.  Most captions and articles I see refer to Nixon’s fondness for making the “victory sign” with his fingers in a “V” (I guess I thought those were peace signs).  Meanwhile I would expect Richard Nixon to put on a brave and presidential face in the face of such adversity, but I can’t help but think he gives the over-the-top performance of looking downright giddy and, well, victorious if those are victory signs.  Maybe the fact that it was over was a weight off of his shoulders and he truly did feel good for the first time in a while, or maybe I’m just overanalyzing.  For those who remember this what did you think at the time?  Not that there were multiple 24 hour news channels to play it over and over and over…


President James Garfield

President Photos

I’m partial to photos of Presidents just being dads and this is another gem I came across.  Most photos of President Garfield show him with a serious expression but I swear I detect a proud smiling in his eyes here.  This photo was taken about a decade before he became president in the early 1870’s.  He may not be flat out smiling here but how can cute little Mollie Garfield not make you grin?  Proud dad!  I love it.


President Dwight D. Eisenhower

President Photos

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library

President Eisenhower was an avid golfer and here he is enjoying a wonderful (if not so private) moment giving a lesson to his grandson David.  This photo was taken in Fraser, Colorado in August of 1955.  Look at the corps of photographers!  6 of them plus however many there were shooting from our vantage point in this photo!  I wonder how this was set up – were they all invited to come along for this photo op?  Were they all from different news agencies?  How far did they have to travel to get this very important photo?  You know the first family lives under a microscope today but this clearly is not a completely new phenomenon as this photo would imply.


President Woodrow Wilson

President Photos

Library Of Congress

President Taft started the tradition of Presidents throwing out the first ball at major league baseball games and Woodrow Wilson was up next.  Here we see a vibrant and happy President Wilson throwing out the first pitch from his seat in 1916.  In later years Presidents would start taking to the pitcher’s mound to throw the pitch in some cases with a baseball mitt and all.


President George W. Bush

President Photos

I will always give President Bush credit and appreciate him for the leadership he displayed here.  Three days after 9/11 President Bush went to ground zero in New York City where the World Trade Center had just been destroyed along with thousands of lives by terrorists.  Fires were still burning there and America was shaken.  It was a very scary time.  For me it was comforting to see President Bush there in plainclothes and a bullhorn announcing to the workers there (who were having trouble hearing him) and indeed the entire world that “the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”


President Chester Arthur

President Photos

That coat!  I want it.  It is so cool looking and I bet it was warm!  As I sit here writing this we’ve been hit by a snowpacolypse in Metro Detroit with well over a foot of snow and -14 temperatures and for some, 5 straight days of no school, so a good warm coat in this blog post is timely.  Chester Arthur was seriously into his appearance and his style, and I am not just saying that as a personal observation based on this photo.  This has actually been well documented and he was often called “Elegant Arthur” for the clothes he wore.


President Andrew Johnson

President Photos


I can’t help but think Andrew Johnson looks a little like Tommy Lee Jones here.  This photo was taken in 1860 five years before Andrew Johnson became president as a result of Abe Lincoln’s assassination while he was serving as a senator from Tennessee.  President Johnson was born into poverty so he does get credit for traveling such an unlikely path all the way to the White House against what would seem to be pretty steep odds even if he wasn’t the most successful president in office.  In his defense Abe Lincoln would be a fairly tough act to follow while trying to patch up a country that had just been ripped apart by a devastating war between the states…


President Bill Clinton

President Photos

C’mon you know this is cool.  I deliberately picked photos of two recent presidents that put them in a favorable light – at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of one being at a very heavy and somber moment and the other at a very light and fun moment.  Bipartisanship has been ugly in recent years, but to me you can’t take away these moments for both President Bush and President Clinton regardless of your political tendencies.  This blog is not a place to get political even if we’re talking about Presidents.  It’s totally cool for a newly elected president to go on late night television and jam with the band on saxophone.  I’ll always think that was cool that he did that.  If you don’t agree I say you’re just wrong, or just not that cool yourself.


President Andrew Jackson

President Photos


President Jackson was a complex man with a mix of villain as well as hero to many that isn’t easily reconciled or agreed upon, but his impact on the country can’t be denied.  American Lion may be the most fascinating bio of a President that I’ve read yet.  He was a classic tough guy but “Old Hickory” wasn’t exactly the picture of health for much of his adult life, and when photography became available towards the very end of his life several photographs were made of him and he doesn’t look good.  You can find them online pretty easily but I am not sure if I had seen this one or not.  It is hard to tell because the original is in such bad shape.  Whether this photo has been restored to other versions that I have seen before I am not totally sure.  I pulled this directly from the Library of Congress and I included it partly because the horrible state of a such an important photo is interesting in and of itself.  I would like to know that part of the story – why wasn’t better care taken not to ruin it?


President Franklin Pierce

President Photos


I feel like this is a lesser known photo of President Pierce.  This is another one of those early photos that is not in very good shape and I believe it was taken before he became president (not positive about that).  While there isn’t much about this photo that distinguishes it beyond that, I have a soft spot for President Pierce because of the awful tragedy he suffered.  He had three sons who all died in childhood, the third – Benjamin, died right before Mr. and Mrs. Pierce’s eyes in a train accident at the age of 11 between the time of the election and the inauguration.  He and his wife Jane never really recovered.  How could they?  I can’t imagine….


President Grover Cleveland

President Photos


I love this full length photo of Grover Cleveland.  I will be getting around to studying him soon and there is a book in particular I have my eye on called The President Is A Sick Man.  Much is made of President Taft’s size but President Cleveland looks like a big and imposing man to me.  At 5’11” he was still tall for the late 19th century.  Everyone knows that he served two non-consecutive terms but do most people stop to think about that?  I would say this guy was a pretty dominant figure for his time and we don’t seem to hear that much about him.  My initial take is that he was quite a principled no-nonsense man who just put his head down and worked.


Presidents in the Oval Office, 1981

President Photos

I love the camaraderie of former presidents.  What a photo!  What a fraternity.  Proud and (I believe) genuinely happy in each others company – makes me want to put this on my wall.

Presidents in the Oval Office, 2009

President Photos

…and the more recent version.  Awesome!

Fascinating Photos of American Presidents

Big news events get me thinking about the historical perspective because I am a big history buff, and this blog gives me a great outlet to ruminate a little (with a photographic angle of course).  I am particularly fascinated with the American Presidents!

Getting To Know Our American Presidents

We have been on a family mission to visit all the homes of our presidents (we’ve been to 11 so far) and I am reading at least one book on every president.  For better or worse these men led the country and at one time they were very important to all Americans.  This November 22nd marked the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death.  I thought as a photography studio the best way to remember JFK on November 22nd on Facebook was to post a photo of him and the photo I picked was one of him clapping and enjoying a moment with his children in the White House.  That got me thinking about photos of the other presidents, and after searching around the web for some of my favorites I came up with a handful I am sharing and discussing here.  I was looking for some of them specifically and some I just came across that I had not seen before.  They are not based on political beliefs or any ranking.  I just think they are fascinating.

President John Kennedy

American Presidents

JFK captured our imaginations as a young vibrant president with his beautiful wife and adorable young children jumping and playing in the White House.  I love this simple photo of a father enjoying a moment with his kids.

President Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren - American Presidents

I mean no disrespect, but is it possible to look at this photo and not be struck by Mr. Van Buren’s hair?  This photo was produced after his term as president and I find it hard not to focus on his hair.  Styles come and go and there were of course eras of presidents with wigs or long beards but Martin Van Buren seems to have a style all his own.  The famous photographer Mathew Brady made this photo and back in the mid 1850’s people didn’t just sit for portraits like this every day, so I am sure President Van Buren prepared for this.

President Theodore Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt - American Presidents

Teddy Roosevelt was truly a larger than life figure and this photo really captures that in my opinion.  He was a man who lived life to the fullest to be sure – a prolific author and historian, an explorer, a warrior, hunter, conservationist and just a flat out tough guy – I am not sure there has been another American quite like him.  We have visited his boyhood home in Manhattan and his adult home at Oyster Bay on Long Island and I highly recommend seeing both.

President Rutherford B Hayes

Rutherford and Lucy Hayes - American Presidents

Yes I am a fan of President Hayes.  He was a good man who much like Gerald Ford almost 100 years later came into power following an administration tainted with scandal (President Grant) and restored some dignity to the office.  He had several horses shot out from underneath him while fighting in the Civil War, and he was from Fremont, OH less than an hour and a half from our studio.  His home is one of my favorites and it is the closest – absolutely worth a day trip.  I am also an admirer of Lucy Hayes – a great first lady and I chose this portrait of the two of them together.

President Ronald Reagan

President Ronald Reagan - American Presidents

Something about this photo of President Reagan struck me – he just looks strong and very much a leader.  I have always believed that the figurehead role and appearance of a president is a very important trait, fair or not, and this picture just strikes me as confident and fearless.

President William Howard Taft

President William Howard Taft

I stumbled upon this photo online of President Taft.  I love it – the whole scene just captures a unique moment in time and it’s a photo of Mr. Taft looking very animated and very much in control as he delivers a speech.  The obvious perception and first thing people think of with him is that he was the president who weighed the most, but this photo cuts through that a little and shows that there is more to him than just “the fat president”.  We have visited the home he grew up in in Cincinnati and we were very impressed with it.

President Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln at Antietam

This photo was taken on October 3rd, 1862 at the Antietam battlefield at Sharpsburg, MD which was fought 2 1/2 weeks earlier on September 17th.  5 days after the battle and 11 days before this photo President Lincoln called his cabinet together for a preliminary issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  It was this battle that provided the timing President Lincoln needed to make such a statement.  The Confederacy was hoping to win a great victory on Northern soil to convince Europe that they would be backing a winner, and when they didn’t get that decisive victory at Antietam, Lincoln pounced on the opportunity to announce that this was indeed not only a war to preserve the Union, but to end slavery which ended any hopes the Confederacy had of gaining much support from Europe.  At this time Lincoln was not happy with General George McClellan for not pursuing Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia after the battle, and as Abe towers over the diminutive general (6th man from the left and facing Lincoln) I feel like you can sense or at least imagine the tension.  Oh – and that’s Captain George Armstrong Custer standing off by himself to the far right.

President James Madison

James Madison - American Presidents

Okay so this is NOT a photo.  I included it because I feel that it is an incredible painting and I believe that it is an attempt to capture a true likeness of President Madison.  To my relatively untrained eye when it comes to painted portraits I prefer a likeness that isn’t  obviously stylized or cartoonish looking.  I had a little difficulty determining exactly what year this was done, but it clearly is an older Madison we are seeing here – the lines in his face visible on a man who has been through it all – first as a revolutionary who helped found a country and later as a President who led America through a somewhat indecisive second war with England that saw the burning of our capital by British troops.  No it is not a photo, but I believe that this is exactly what President Madison looked like at the time of this portrait.

President Harry Truman

President Harry Truman

You have to love this.  Before twitter and CNN news was not always reported in real time.  Granted newspapers still exist today but I’m not sure we would ever see something like this happen again, where a newspaper mistakenly calls a close election for the loser.  Then again in 2000 a clear winner didn’t emerge right away either and these days there is always such a race to scoop a story in real time on social media that scenarios where incorrect results are reported could easily happen.  I love this photo of a victorious President Truman on November 3rd, 1948 holding up the newspaper with the headline incorrectly reporting his defeat during a stop at a train station in St. Louis.

President Benjamin Harrison

President Benjamin Harrison inauguration

You may know that President William Henry Harrison served the shortest term in office, dying of pneumonia one month after being sworn in in 1841.  His inauguration was a cold and wet day but contrary to myth was not responsible for him getting sick despite the fact that he delivered a 2 hour inaugural speech without an overcoat or hat.   The Harrison family is undoubtedly one of the great political dynasties with William Henry Harrison’s father being a signer to the Declaration of Independence and his grandson Benjamin becoming president in 1889.  What I found fascinating about this photo though that I had not seen before was the fact that 48 years after his grandfather was sworn in on a day with bad weather, the rain came down again on another Harrison inauguration.  I don’t recall seeing a scene such as this one with all the umbrellas at one of these ceremonies in my lifetime…

President John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams

None of our first five presidents lived long enough to be photographed, but our 6th did.  John Quincy Adams was photographed at least twice around 1843 – 14 years after serving as president.  I love to be able to see a photo of a man who was around during the revolution while his father John Adams helped to found the country and was appointed minister to the Netherlands by George Washington himself at the age of 26 in 1793.  Then after serving as president, he re-entered politics and served in congress long enough to serve together with Abraham Lincoln for three months until he died in 1848.  What a life!

President Warren G. Harding

Warren G. Harding - American Presidents

I love this photo of President Harding.  This is the type of behind-the-scenes photo we post on instagram on a regular basis – a photo of someone being photographed.  I just found this one to be fun and President Harding seems to be enjoying a lighthearted moment with this canine.  I have studied President Harding and been to his home in Marion, OH and I believe he has been unfairly judged as one of our worst (and by some the worst) president.  In my opinion he wasn’t that bad.

I hope you enjoyed these photos of American Presidents along with my commentary – I may even be compelled to post a “part two”.  🙂

UPDATE – here is “part two”.  🙂


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