President of the United States
The President of the United States (POTUS) is the head of the Executive Branch of the United States government.
During the Cold War (and even currently, though to a lesser extent), Americans would refer to their presidents as "the leader of the free world". This was due to America's place of power in world politics, the President's high degree of autonomy and influence in the US, and the general American belief that the rest of the world admires them in some way.
 Constitutional issues
The President is elected via a convoluted, slightly democratic process at four-year intervals, and since FDR's enormously successful four terms, is constitutionally limited to two terms in the office.
The Constitution confers the title of "commander in chief of the armed forces" in order to maintain the structure that puts a civilian leader above all military positions.
 Presidents from Independence to Civil War (1789-1865)
 George Washington (1789-1797)
The first president, the only one to be unaffiliated with a political party, and the only to be elected unanimously. Prior to the presidency he led the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. During his term the federal government assumed the debts of the states and established a national bank. Resolved the Whiskey Rebellion relatively peacefully. Helped improve post-war relations with Britain, and declared neutrality in regards to European political affairs, including the emerging French Revolution. Declined to run for a third term, setting the two-term tradition for future presidents that would be broken only by FDR. Upon leaving office warned America against forming political parties and meddling in foreign affairs, advice which has been ignored ever since.
 John Adams (1797-1801)
The first vice-president to become president, and the only Federalist president. Avoided all-out war with France following the XYZ affair. Signed the Alien and Sedition Acts into law, which made immigration to the country more difficult and outlawed certain dissent against the government (these acts being swiftly done away with once Jefferson became president). Didn't get along with the rest of the Founding Fathers.
 Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
The first Democratic-Republican president. Was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. Believed in a limited federal government and adherence to the Constitution. Despite this, he used authority not expressly given to the president in the Constitution to purchase the Louisiana Territory from France. Also founded the University of Virginia and authored the Jefferson Bible.
 James Madison (1809-1817)
The second Democratic-Republican president. Helped write the Federalist Papers, and was the primary author of both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Fought the War of 1812 with Great Britain during his term. Stood only 5'4" tall.
 James Monroe (1817-1825)
The third Democratic-Republican and last Founding Father in the U.S. Presidency. Established the Monroe Doctrine (which was actually written by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams), proclaiming American dominance over political affairs in the western hemisphere, and isolation from European political affairs. Also signed the Missouri Compromise, resolving the first major slavery incident in U.S. history. The capital of Liberia is named for him.
 John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)
Son of John Adams, and the last of the Democratic-Republican presidents. Was elected president in the contentious 1824 election (there were four candidates, and Andrew Jackson had a plurality of the popular vote). Swore on a book of law instead of a Bible when taking his oath of office. Paid off two thirds of the public debt while in office, with the rest being paid off by Jackson.
 Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)
The first Democratic president and all-around insane bastard. Commanded U.S. forces during the War of 1812. As president he expanded the spoils system. Despite supporting states' rights, he declared during the Nullification Crisis that states do not have the right to nullify federal laws. Signed the Indian Removal Act, forcing native Americans living in the states to move further west. Was the first sitting president on which an assassination attempt was made.
 Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
Andrew Jackson's VP and the second Democratic president. Presided over and was blamed for the Panic of 1837, which cost him reelection in 1841. Had rad muttonchops and was the first president to speak English as a second language.
(George W. Bush is a more recent example.)
 William Henry Harrison (1841)
The first Whig to ascend to the presidency. His first act as president was to get sick and die after a month. His death sparked a constitutional crisis that ended with Vice President Tyler taking his place.
 John Tyler (1841-1845)
Succeded Harrison. Despite having been elected to the vice presidency on the Whig ticket, he opposed most Whig policies and vetoed many bills brought to the White House. This pissed enough people off that most of his cabinet resigned, and the Whigs kicked him out of the party. Authorized the annexation of Texas.
 James K. Polk (1845-1849)
Another Democrat. Oversaw the largest territorial expansion in U.S. history, which included Texas, the Oregon territory (acquired through a treaty with Britain that divided the disputed land along the 49th parallel), and pretty much the entire southwest (ceded by Mexico following the Mexican-American War). Also reestablished an independent treasury system and lowered tariffs. Basically, he accomplished everything he said he would at the beginning of his term, and did not seek a second one. His achievements are listed in a song by popular beat combo "They Might Be Giants". The polka is nothing to do with him.
 Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)
Whig party candidate and former general during the Mexican-American War. Became ill and died 16 months into his term. Was probably the best Whig president, having lived long enough to get a few good things done but not long enough to completely screw everything up.
 Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)
The last Whig, who succeeded Taylor upon his death. Helped create the Compromise of 1850, which helped stave off civil war for a little longer. His name really was Millard Fillmore. His greatest contribution to American culture was lending his name to the two Fillmore theaters, both legendary in the history of rock and roll.
 Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
Democrat and a "doughface" (a northerner with southern sympathies). Was strong-armed into signing the Kansas-Nebraska Act, effectively nullifying the Missouri and 1850 Compromises, reopening western territories to slavery.
 James Buchanan (1857-1861)
Another Democrat and doughface. Figured the best way to deal with escalating tensions between the north and south was to wait it out and hope for the two sides to resolve their differences themselves. You know how well that worked.
 Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
The first Republican president. Upon his election numerous southern states seceded to form the Confederate States of America. Led the country through the Civil War to victory for the Union and the reunification of the nation. Abolished slavery along the way. Was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth shortly after the war ended. May or may not have hunted vampires during his presidency.
 Presidents from Civil War to World War II (1865-1945)
 Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)
Lincoln's VP, who became president following Honest Abe's death. Being a southerner himself, he didn't want to punish his defeated homeland too harshly. This put him at odds with the Republican-dominated congress, who eventually impeached. He was acquitted, but spent the remainder of his term essentially powerless. During his presidency he was a member of the National Union Party (the name used by the Republican Party for the 1864 election), but was closer politically to the Democratic Party, and formally joined it later in his life.
 Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
Republican and former Civil War general. Kept the Reconstruction of the South moving along, crushed the Ku Klux Klan, and won passage of the (Fifteenth Amendment). His two terms were marred by widespread corruption in the federal government, as well as the Panic of 1873. He failed to win his party's nomination for a third term.
 Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)
Another Republican and former Civil War general. Won the contentious 1876 election despite coming second in popular vote. Formally ended the Reconstruction, withdrawing federal troops from the South and effectively handing the region back over to the Democrats, ushering in the Jim Crow era.
 James A. Garfield (1881)
Republican president famous for two reasons: for having been assassinated, and for sharing his name with a cartoon cat. Was shot shortly into his term by a mentally-ill man upset over Garfield's refusal to appoint him to a government position. Died after only 200 days in office.
 Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885)
Republican and successor to Garfield. Passed the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, which stipulated that government jobs should be granted based on merit. Opponents spuriously claimed he hadn't been born in the United States, and that as such he was ineligible to be president.
 Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897)
The first Democrat elected since the Civil War, and the only U.S. president thus far to serve two non-consecutive terms. Opposed the growth of labor unions and kept the country on the gold standard at a time when it was unpopular. Is fairly popular with modern libertarians.
 Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)
Republican and grandson of the ninth president, William Henry Harrison. Beat out incumbent Cleveland in the Electoral College, despite losing the popular vote. Passed the protectionist McKinley Tariff and the Sherman Antitrust Act. His term also saw the national debt surpass the billion dollar mark for the first time in U.S. history.
 William McKinley (1897-1901)
Another Republican president. Led the country to victory in the Spanish-American War and acquired the United States' first overseas possessions from Spain. Was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz.
 Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
Republican, Spanish-American War hero and successor to McKinley. The first president to have had a soft toy named after him. Commissioned the creation of the Panama Canal and set up the National Park System. Became the first U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering peace between Japan and Russia. Declined to run for reelection in 1908, but grew to dislike the direction Taft was taking the Republican Party. Roosevelt ran as a third party candidate in 1912, splitting the Republican vote (and coming in second place), handing the election over to Democrat Wilson.
 William Howard Taft (1909-1913)
Republican, and the fattest man president in U.S. history (though
Chris Christie given trends in obesity, that may not remain true for much longer). His policies alienated him from much of his own party, costing him reelection. Later served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, making him the only person to hold both positions in U.S. history. Was also the last president with any facial hair and the only president to place lower than second in a bid for re-election.
 Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
A Democrat, and the guy who led the country through World War I. He helped found the League of Nations following the war's end. As for domestic policies, he instituted the country's first income tax, established the Federal Reserve, saw the enfranchising of women (after years of opposing it). He also came down hard on opposition to the war or criticism of the government, and had many protesters arrested. His term also saw the passing of the 18th amendment, prohibiting the production and consumption of alcohol. Wilson was the only president to have a PhD.
 Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
 Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
 Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
 Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
Democrat and longest-serving president in U.S. history, serving over twelve years through four terms. Introduced the New Deal to combat the Great Depression, which among other horrible and socialism-y things started Social Security, mandated bank holidays, and founded a variety of new government agencies. Led the country into World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor (just as he had planned). Controversially had Japanese Americans living on the west coast placed in internment camps. Suffered from polio since age 39 and lost use of his legs. Died in office from a stroke.
 Presidents from World War II to Present (1945- )
 Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)
Democrat and VP to FDR when he died. Saw the surrender of Germany and Japan in World War II, and the beginning of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Kicked off the Marshall Plan, which offered economic aid to war-ravaged countries in Europe, and the Truman Doctrine, the American effort to prevent communism from spreading further. Fought the Korean War, which accomplished pretty much nothing for either side. Also plays a role in UFO lore - supposedly met with ETs, set up UFO investigation bureaux and even featured in a cameo role in that fake alien autopsy film.
 Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
One of the last liberal Republicans. Commanded Allied forces in Europe during WWII. As president he oversaw the expansion of Social Security, creation of NASA, and the desegregation of public schools. Also overthrew democratically-elected leaders in Iran and Guatemala.
 John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
A Democrat, the youngest man elected president (at age 42), and the only Catholic so far. Foreign policy incidents during his term included the Bay of Pigs invasion (which went poorly to say the least) and the Cuban Missile Crisis (which went a little better). Heavily associated with the success of the Apollo program, largely because he could give wicked speeches to Congress (it was Eisenhower who actually got it started). Was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, setting off countless conspiracy theories. Is fondly remembered despite not getting a whole lot done in his three years in office.
 Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)
Democrat and successor to JFK. Passed numerous civil rights bills, set up Medicare and Medicaid, and established numerous programs aimed at clobbering poverty (and they did a pretty good job). Could've been one of the best U.S. presidents in history if he hadn't gone and screwed everything up in Southeast Asia.
 Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974)
Republican and true bastard. Successfully implemented the Southern strategy during the 1968 election. Secretly bombed Cambodia, launched the War on Drugs, and scaled back the U.S. space program. On the plus side, he created the Environmental Protection Agency, improved relations between the U.S. and communist China, and pulled American troops out of Vietnam. Was implicated in a certain scandal but refused to release evidence. Told the Supreme Court, "Fuck you, I'm the president". Supreme Court replied, "Nice try - smell the glove, motherfucker". Thus he became the only president ever to resign.
 Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
 Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Democrat and renowned peanut farmer. His administration suffered due to the 1979 energy crisis and the 1980 recession, as well as the hostage crisis in Iran, and as a result he lost his reelection bid to Reagan.
 Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
Republican and former actor, governor of California,
and Nazi concentration camp liberator. Kicked off Reaganomics, tripled the national debt, and tried to build a giant space laser. On the foreign policy front, he illegally sold arms to Iran and used the money to fund terrorists in Nicaragua, funded more terrorists in Afghanistan to help fight the Soviets, and single-handedly ended the Cold War. Currently canonized as a saint by the Republican Party, (although they don't like it when you raise the fact that Reagan supported gun control and also authorized an illegal alien amnesty in 1986).
 George H. W. Bush (1989-1993)
Another Republican. Is fondly remembered for fighting the Iraqis out of Kuwait and for vomiting on the Prime Minister of Japan. Suffered as a result of the economic mess Reagan pawned off on him and lost reelection to Clinton. Election tip - raising taxes after your campaign slogan was "No new taxes" is a bad tactic.
 Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
 George W. Bush (2001-2009)
Republican and son of the 41st president. Ascended to the presidency
after being elected by the American pubic. Began the War on Terror following 9/11 by sending troops to Afghanistan and curtailing civil rights. Invaded Iraq to find the weapons of mass destruction that weren't there. Other highlights of his administration include ignoring and distorting scientific data, watching Louisiana sink into the Gulf of Mexico, (and setting the stage for the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Thankfully hasn't been heard from much since leaving office.
 Barack Obama (2009- )
Democrat, and the first
Muslim Marxist African-American president. Became president as the result of a massive liberal conspiracy despite having been born in Kenya. Ended the Iraq War, passed the Affordable Care Act, and has taken several steps towards improving LGBT rights. On the other hand, executive power has continued to grow under his watch, and has had a questionable human rights record regarding the Afghanistan War. Still kicking it in the Oval Office.
- ↑ OK they actually said "no person, not even the president of the United States, is completely above the law; and the president cannot use executive privilege as an excuse to withhold evidence that is demonstrably relevant in a criminal trial." But we like our version better.