The bond between the USA and the Emerald Isle runs long and deep.
With a diaspora of millions of Irish Americans, cities like Boston famous for its Irish heritage, and the infamous famine journeys of the 19th century, it’s no surprise some of that green blood ended up in the White House.
The United States of America has had a long and rich history of Irish American presidents. From John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, many of the nation’s leaders have had strong ties to Ireland.
How many Irish American Presidents are There?
Andrew Jackson – The 7th President
The first president of Irish descent was Andrew Jackson. His father was born in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, in Ireland, and Andrew was born in South Carolina. He was a supporter of Irish Catholics and even said he would “stand by the Irishman as long as there is a drop of blood in his veins.”.
James K. Polk – The 11th President
Born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in 1795, James K. Polk was a diligent and hardworking student who graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina in 1818. After becoming a lawyer, he set his sights on politics and served as a representative in the Tennessee legislature. The efforts of his presidency took a toll on Polk’s health, and he passed away in June of 1849.
James Buchanan – The 15th President
James Buchanan held office right before the start of the American Civil War. He is still the only president to have been elected from Pennsylvania and to stay an unmarried bachelor for life. In March 1861, he returned to his home state of Pennsylvania, Wheatland, where he passed away seven years later.
Andrew Johnson – The 17th President
Johnson was born in 1808 in Raleigh, North Carolina, to a low-income family. Johnson opened up his own tailor shop in Greeneville, Tennessee, and later married Eliza McCardle. During this period, he also participated in debates at the local academy.
Ulysses S. Grant – The 18th President
Ulysses S. Grant was the third Irish American president, serving from 1869 to 1877. His father was born in County Antrim, and his mother was born in County Longford. He strongly advocated for Irish immigrants and supported the Fenian Brotherhood, an Irish nationalist movement.
Chester A. Arthur – The 21st President
Arthur was the son of a Baptist preacher who had immigrated from Northern Ireland. After graduating from Union College in 1848, he went on to teach school and was admitted to the bar, where he practiced law in New York City. At the start of the Civil War, he served as Quartermaster General for the State of New York.
Grover Cleveland – The 22nd and 24th President
1885-1889 & 1893-1897
The fourth Irish American president was Grover Cleveland. His father was born in County Wexford, Ireland. He was sympathetic to the plight of Irish immigrants and even appointed several to government positions. After his presidential term, Cleveland lived out his remaining years in retirement in Princeton, New Jersey, before passing away in 1908.
Benjamin Harrision – The 23rd President
Benjamin Harrison conducted one of the earliest “front-porch” campaigns by receiving delegations and delivering short speeches at his home in Indianapolis.
William McKinley – The 25th President
President McKinley was greeting people in a receiving line at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition when an insane anarchist fired two shots at him. He passed away eight days later.
Theodore Roosevelt – The 26th President
1901 – 1909
Theodore Roosevelt, the youngest president of the United States, took office after the assassination of William McKinley. At 43, he brought new energy to the White House and championed progressive reforms while leading Congress and rallying public support for a robust foreign policy.
William Howard Taft – The 27th President
1909 – 1913
William Howard Taft was elected to be the 27th president in 1909 and later became the tenth Chief Justice of the United States in 1921, and he was the only person to have served in both of these offices.
Woodrow Wilson – The 28th President
1913 – 1921
Woodrow Wilson was an influential leader of the Progressive Movement. After remaining neutral at the start of World War I, Wilson changed his stance and led America into the war to “make the world safe for democracy.”
Harry S. Truman – The 33rd President
1945 – 1953
Harry Truman scarcely saw President Franklin Roosevelt during his few weeks as Vice President and received no briefing on the development of the difficulties with Soviet Russia. Quickly these and a host of other wartime problems became Truman’s to solve.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy – The 35th President
1961 – 1963
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, also known as JFK, was born in Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. He was assassinated on November 22, 1963, at 46. Kennedy was the youngest man to be elected president and the youngest to die.
Lyndon B. Johnson – The 36th President
1963 – 1969
Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th president, serving from 1963 to 1969. He was a Democrat and succeeded John F. Kennedy after his assassination. Johnson was known for his “Great Society” programs aimed to reduce poverty and inequality. He also presided over Vietnam.
Richard Nixon – The 37th President
1969 – 1974
Born in 1913 in Yorba Linda, California, Nixon attended Whittier College and then Duke University School of Law. He began his political career in 1946 when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Nixon was later elected to the U.S. Senate, and in 1968 he was chosen as the Republican Party’s candidate for president.
Gerald Ford – The 38th President
1974 – 1977
Ford was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1913 and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the first person to hold office who had not been elected to either the vice presidency or the presidency.
Jimmy Carter – The 39th President
1977 – 1981
Carter was born in Georgia, in 1924, and served in the Navy during World War II. Carter faced many challenges, including the energy crisis, inflation, and the Iran hostage crisis.
Ronald Reagan – The 40th President
1981 – 1989
Ronald Reagan was a great leader and inspired the nation with his optimistic vision for the future. He was also a strong advocate for freedom and liberty and helped restore confidence in America domestically and internationally.
George H.W. Bush – The 41st President
1989 – 1993
Bush was born in Massachusetts, on June 12, 1924. Bush served in the Navy during World War II and was shot down over the Pacific. He also attended Yale University, where he was a member of the Skull and Bones secret society. He later founded his own oil company.
George W. Bush – The 43rd President
2001 – 2009
George W. Bush served from 2001 to 2009. He was the eldest son of Barbara and George H.W. Bush, and the brother of Jeb Bush. Bush began his career in the oil business, working for his father’s company, Zapata Corporation. He later served as the chairman of the Texas Republican Party.
Barack Obama – The 44th President
2009 – 2017
Barack Obama’s father was born in Kenya to a father from County Offaly, Ireland. He has been an advocate for Irish immigrants and has even expressed support for a united Ireland. He had a remarkable journey, starting from humble roots in the heartland to leading the United States for two terms. His story is a quintessential American one: raised in a middle-class family, driven by hard work and education, and committed to using his blessings to serve others.
Joe Biden – The 46th President
2021 – Present
Joe Biden is one of the most well-known and experienced politicians in the United States. He has been in politics for over 40 years and has held many important positions, including Vice President of the United States. He has a reputation for being a good listener and for being willing to work with people from all political parties.