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How Best to Prepare Yourself to Become President of the USA

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To date there have been 43 numbered Presidencies of the United States, although Grover Cleveland counts twice as number 22 and 24, so there are really only 42. But maybe you wish to be added to their number in the future. Here are some tips on career, location and other issues that may effect your future bid for the White House.

The Basic Requirements

The Second Article of the US Constitution states that, to be eligible, you must be:

  • A citizen born in the United States

  • Born in a region that has since signed the constitution

  • At least 35 years of age

  • Been a resident within the United States or a dependent territory for fourteen years

If you meet these criteria, you are eligible to be a potential President of the United States of America. So now you are eligible, how can you best enhance your chances of taking the Presidential oath?


So far, 100% of all holders of this post have been male. Neither of the two main parties have even put forward a female candidate for the Presidential elections. However in 1984, the Democratic candidate Walter Mondale did chose Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as his vice-presidential running mate; they lost in a land slide of the electoral college vote to the incumbent Ronald Reagan.


Your choice of career pre-politics may prove to be very important. Historically, certain careers have brought a certain amount of panache to the Oval Office whereas others have not stood any chance of reaching the hallowed corridors of power. So here in descending order of number of Presidents are their professional backgrounds.

Lawyer (25)

By far the best career choice to set out upon to be President is that of the law. Over half of all the Presidents so far have practised law and on a number of cases have also twisted it to their advantage.

The Presidential lawyers have been:

  • John Adams
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • James Monroe
  • John Quincy Adams
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Martin Van Buren
  • John Tyler
  • James Knox Polk
  • Millard Fillmore
  • Franklin Pierce
  • James Buchanan
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Rutherford Birchard Hayes
  • Chester Alan Arthur
  • Grover Cleveland
  • Benjamin Harrison
  • William McKinley
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • William Howard Taft
  • Calvin Coolidge
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Richard Milhous Nixon
  • Gerald Rudolph Ford
  • William Jefferson Clinton
  • So from the second to the second last President there has been a steady stream of lawmen to the office that sets the laws for the nation. As always, it is never enough to merely study the law to succeed in America - you need to study it at the right schools. So where did these men of the law-cum-ultimate law-makers learn their legal trade?

    • Harvard (5)
    • No Formal Education (4)
    • William and Mary (3)
    • Yale Law School (2)
    • Princeton University (1)
    • Kinderhook Academy (1)
    • University of North Carolina (1)
    • Bowdoin College (1)
    • Dickinson College (1)
    • Union College (1)
    • Miami University (1)
    • Ohio (1)
    • Did not Graduate (1)
    • Cincinnati Law School (1)
    • Amherst College (1)
    • Columbia Law School (1)
    • Whittier College (1)
    • Duke (1)
    • Michigan (1)

    From this list, we can therefore conclude that to best become a future President you have to have been a lawyer with either a Harvard, William and Mary or no formal education. So drop out of school now and practise the law and you may well succeed to the top post in politics.

    Soldier (6)

    At times, America has faced war and soon afterwards her heroes and leaders have obviously become prime prospects to take over at the White House. So it is that George Washington, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses Simpson Grant and Dwight David Eisenhower all came to fill the post of President. Bear in mind that the current Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is another general who if things deteriorate greatly in the current 'war' on terrorism may well stand a good chance of increasing the military's number of Presidents.

    Farmer (4)

    A major industry throughout the history of America has been agriculture; not surprisingly, with just under 10% of all Presidents coming from that illustrious profession, it is the third most common profession. Thomas Jefferson, Harry S Truman and James Earl Carter, Jr have all left their farmsteads to take up office in Washington; George Washington served his terms in Philadelphia.

    Teacher (3)

    The only educationalists to reach the seat of power have been James Abram Garfield, Woodrow Wilson and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Of them, only Wilson served two full terms as Garfield died in office and Johnson replaced Kennedy after his assassination.

    Businessman (2)

    George Herbert Walker Bush and his son George Walker Bush, have both been involved in the family oil business and other ventures. So, not only are the only two Presidential business men in the same business, but also in the same company.

    Author (2)

    Theodore Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy are the two writers who have been able to write their name on the bottom of legislation in the Oval Office.

    Editor-Publisher (1)

    Although in a related field to the authors, Warren Gamaliel Harding may well have edited whatever they did.

    Tailor (1)

    The only craftsman to have been elected President was Andrew Johnson who was a tailor by trade; no doubt he was always sartorially turned out throughout his Presidency.

    Engineer (1)

    Herbert Clark Hoover.

    Actor (1)

    In this age of high profile public relations all Presidents have been accused of being actors but only Ronald Wilson Reagan has actually come from an career in acting. The former Governor of California had made his name in Hollywood.

    Military Service

    Although only six Presidents have been career soldiers, 25 have served in the forces at some time of other and have held the following ranks.

    • General - Eisenhower and Grant
    • Lt General - Washington
    • Major General - Garfield, Will Harrison, Hayes, Jackson and Taylor
    • Brigadier General - Ben Harrison, A Johnson and Pierce
    • Colonel - Madison and T Roosevelt
    • Lt Colonel - Monroe
    • Major / Naval Lt Commander - McKinley and Truman (Army) Ford, LB Johnson, Nixon (Navy)
    • Captain / Naval Lieutenant - Lincoln, Reagan and Tyler (Army) Carter (Navy)
    • 2nd Lieutenant / Naval Lieutenant jg - Bush Sr and Kennedy (both Navy)

    So unlike Bill Clinton, if another draft does come up, it may be best not to avoid it as it may jeopardise your chances of the Presidency in future years.

    Home State

    Not that the US electorate is easily swayed by where you happen to come from, but there are trends as to where you come from that can lead to a success at the ballot box. So which state should you come from to best achieve success. The following list shows home state for registration purposes, not state of birth.

    • New York (8) - Arthur, Cleveland, Eisenhower, Fillmore, Nixon, FD Roosevelt, T Roosevelt and van Buren
    • Ohio (6) - Garfield, Harding, W Harrison, Hayes, McKinley and Taft
    • Virginia (5) - Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Tyler and Washington
    • Massachusetts (4) - J Adams, J Q Adams, Coolidge and Kennedy
    • Tennessee (3) - A Jackson, A Johnson and Polk
    • Texas (3) - Bush Sr, G W Bush and L B Johnson
    • California (2) - Hoover and Reagan
    • Illinois (2) - Grant and Lincoln
    • Arkansas (1) - Clinton
    • Georgia (1) - Carter
    • Indiana (1) - B Harrison
    • Louisiana (1) - Taylor
    • Michigan (1) - Ford
    • Missouri (1) - Truman
    • New Hampshire (1) - Pierce
    • New Jersey (1) - Wilson
    • Pennsylvania (1) - Buchanan

    However, the most popular state in which Presidents have been born as opposed to where they were officially registered to vote is Virginia with eight.

    Previous Political Positions

    Obviously most Presidents have progressed through the ranks of their party before being able to secure their nomination for the top post. But what background did they come from and therefore at what point should you launch your bid to sit in the big chair.

    PositionAt time of ElectionHeld Previously
    Vice President131
    Cabinet Post57
    Member Continental Congress105
    Never Held another Office30

    So it has been possible to succeed from every level of Government from Senator upwards. Almost half of all Presidents have at some point sat in the House of Representatives and one third of them have been Governor. The three Presidents to have held no previous government office were all military men, the last being the World War II hero General Eisenhower. The last gap between other office and becoming President was Ronald Reagan, but that was only because he had failed in an independent bid against Carter in 1976. The previous gap between offices was Nixon the only person to have been a vice-president and President but not in succession.


    So, should you wish to become President of the United States, you should:

    • Be male
    • Be Caucasian
    • Have been a lawyer
    • Have experience in the armed forces
    • Have been born in Virginia - but resident in New York State
    • Have served some time in the House of Representatives.
    • Currently be either the Vice-President or a Governor.

    Unfortunately, to the best of our knowledge, no President has been a member of the h2g2 Community... but then there has always got to be a first.


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