They Were Members, Too

Posted February 11, 2004 at 5:34pm

We know there have been dozens of Members of Congress who have run for the presidency in the past 44 years, only to fall just short — or way short, in some instances — of their parties’ nominations or the White House. But with President’s Day right around the corner — and with Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) looking more and more like the Democratic nominee with each passing primary — Roll Call decided to take a look at all of the Members who have made it to the Oval Office. Twenty-four of the 43 commanders in chief called Congress home, either before or after their presidencies.

James Madison
Virginia
House, 1789-97
Elected president 1808
Re-elected 1812

James Monroe
Virginia
Senate, 1790-94
Elected president 1816
Re-elected 1820
In Monroe’s second race, he received all but one electoral votes, preserving George Washington’s honor of being the only unanimously elected president.

John Quincy Adams
Massachusetts
Senate, 1803-08; House, 1831-48
Elected president 1824
Elected by the House after no candidate received a majority of electoral votes (Adams was second in electoral votes to Andrew Jackson).

Andrew Jackson
Tennessee
House, 1796-97; Senate 1797-98, 1823-25
Elected president as a Democrat in 1828
Re-elected 1832.

Martin Van Buren
New York
Senate, 1821-28
Elected president 1836
Lost re-election bid amid a depression, failed to win nomination in 1844, switched parties and lost bid in 1848.

William Henry Harrison
Indiana, Ohio
House, 1799-1800 (Delegate from Northwest Territory), 1816-19 (Ohio); Senate, 1825-28
Elected president 1840
Died 31 days after inauguration.

John Tyler
Virginia
House, 1817-21; Senate 1827-36; Succeeded to presidency in 1841
Became president at Harrison’s death and did not seek re-election.

James Polk
Tennessee
House, 1825-39
Elected president 1844
Received no votes during first eight ballots of nomination contest but won on the ninth ballot; did not seek re-election.

Millard Fillmore
New York
House, 1833-35, 1837-43
Succeeded to presidency in 1850 when Zachary Taylor died.
Lost bid for nomination in 1852.

Franklin Pierce
New Hampshire
House, 1833-37; Senate, 1837-42
Elected president 1852
Won nomination on 49th ballot; lost bid for nomination in 1856.

James Buchanan
Pennsylvania
House, 1821-31; Senate, 1834-45
Elected president 1856
Did not seek re-election.

Abraham Lincoln
Illinois
House, 1847-49
Elected president as a Republican in 1860
Re-elected 1864
Won 22 of 25 states in 1864, when 11 Confederate states did not vote.

Andrew Johnson
Tennessee
House, 1843-53; Senate, 1857-62, 1875
Succeeded to presidency in 1865
Became president after Lincoln’s assassination; impeached but acquitted; lost bid for nomination in 1868, for Senate in 1869 and House in 1872; elected to Senate in 1875.

Rutherford B. Hayes
Ohio
House, 1865-67
Elected president 1876
Defeated Samuel Tilden in a disputed election after a Congressionally appointed commission selected Hayes in return for his decision to end carpetbag rule in the South; soundly defeated in bid for re-nomination in 1880.

James Garfield
Ohio
House, 1863-80
Elected president 1880
Received no votes in first round of nominating contest, one in the 21st, 50 in the 35th, and won with 399 in the 36th; assassinated in 1881.

Benjamin Harrison
Indiana
Senate, 1881-87
Elected president 1888
Lost popular vote to Grover Cleveland by 100,000 ballots but won electoral vote 233-168; lost re-election contest to Cleveland.

William McKinley
Ohio
House, 1877-84, 1885-91
Elected president in 1896
Re-elected 1900
Assassinated in 1901.

Warren G. Harding
Ohio
Senate, 1915-21
Elected 1920
Died in 1923 in office.

Harry Truman
Missouri
Senate, 1934-45
Succeeded to presidency in 1945
Re-elected 1948
Ascended upon Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death.

John F. Kennedy
Massachusetts
House, 1947-53; Senate, 1953-60
Elected president 1960
Assassinated in 1963.

Lyndon B. Johnson
Texas
House, 1937-49; Senate, 1949-61
Succeeded to presidency in 1963
Became president after Kennedy’s assassination; re-elected in 1964 but did not seek re-election in 1968.

Richard Nixon
California
House, 1947-50; Senate, 1950-53
Elected president in 1968
Re-elected in 1972
Resigned in 1974 in anticipation of impeachment.

Gerald Ford
Michigan
House, 1948-73
Succeeded to the presidency in 1974
Became president after Nixon’s resignation and then pardoned him; lost bid for full term in 1976 to Jimmy Carter.

George H.W. Bush
Texas
House, 1967-71
Elected president 1988
First sitting vice president to be elected president since Martin Van Buren in 1836; lost re-election bid to Bill Clinton.

Source: Staff research