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CPBJ Extra Blog

Presidents Day trivia: Most presidents worked in which field?

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In honor of Presidents Day, I thought I'd take you on a quick and fascinating journey of the occupations of presidents.

Here's what I learned at a glance: Boy, we've elected a lot of lawyers.

Based on this list, which was the best format I found, 24 of those who have served in the POTUS chair could list "lawyer" on their resumes. That's more than half of our 44 presidents:

  • John Adams
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • James Monroe
  • John Quincy Adams
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Martin Van Buren
  • John Tyler
  • James Polk
  • Millard Fillmore
  • Franklin Pierce
  • James Buchanan
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Rutherford Hayes
  • Benjamin Harrison (who was also a journalist)
  • William McKinley
  • William Taft
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Calvin Coolidge
  • Franklin Roosevelt
  • Richard Nixon
  • Gerald Ford
  • Bill Clinton
  • Barack Obama

What's also interesting is that roughly a third of those lawyer presidents also worked in other business-related fields:

  • John Adams, farmer
  • Thomas Jefferson, land surveyor, plantation owner, architect
  • James Madison, farmer/plantation owner
  • James Monroe, farmer/plantation owner
  • James Polk, farmer/plantation owner
  • Abraham Lincoln, land surveyor
  • Calvin Coolidge, bank vice president

Last fun fact for you: Only for the George Bushes -- as in George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush -- does the word "businessman" appear as an occupation.

What does all this mean? Not sure.

But I do know that when we get to the next presidential election year, if you're into betting, you'll probably want to lay your money down for the candidate who's got a law degree.

In the meantime, enjoy Presidents Day! Our offices are closed, so you will return to receiving all the best business news from us tomorrow.

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Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli is the managing editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a question or tip for her? Email her at Follow her on Twitter, @amygulli. Circle Amy Gulli on .

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