Before he was President: James Buchanan

James Buchanan, 1857-1861 lawyer, U.S. congressman, U.S. senator, U.S. secretary of state, writer
At age sixteen, he entered Dickinson College in Carlisle, seventy miles from home. A spirited presence on campus, James managed to avoid two near expulsions from the school over disciplinary matters. After two years, he graduated with honors and then promptly began law studies. In 1813, he was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar and began practicing in Lancaster. Buchanan's legal skills were so great that before he became thirty, he was worth over $250,000—a sizable fortune in 1819.

Much like Abraham Lincoln's story connecting him to Ann Rutledge, James Buchanan's luck with his first fiancée was troubled. In 1819 his fiancée and him broke up after a fight, and she died almost immediately afterwards. That trauma made Buchanan vow he would never marry again. Source

Abraham Lincoln, 1861-1865 inventor, ferry boat captain
Abraham Lincoln is the only president to receive a patent. Known for his ability with an axe and cutting wood, the 21 year old Abraham Lincoln was hired to split logs and build a flatboat that could carry barrels of produce New Orleans. He would be paid $12 a month for building and navigating the boat. During one of his journeys he became stuck on a dam where he stayed for 24 hours until he figured out how drilling a strategically place hole in the craft would help drain water and flip is boat over the dam. That experience led him to draw a design for a new flatboat. His patent was for a system of chambers designed to refloat boats that had run aground. He thought of the idea during a journey from Niagara to his home in Springfield Illinois. He received Patent 6469 on May 22, 1849. Source

Andrew Johnson, 1865-1869 tailor
Andrew Johnson was a tailor, something he really loved. At the age of 14 Andrew went to work for Mr. James Selby in Raleigh, North Carolina. The small amount of money he was paid saved him and his mother from starving. He moved West believing he would make more money, married Eliza McCardle, and started his own tailoring shop. His shop was became a favorite gathering place for townspeople to talk about what was going on and they enjoyed Johnson's strong speaking ability. It was his speaking ability that got him elected to his first government position as town's alderman. Even when he started to rise in the world of politics, Johnson still had a soft spot for a spool of thread. When he was governor of Tennessee, he made a suit for the governor of Kentucky, just for fun.

More stories: Duncan Hines   George Washington   Thomas Jefferson   Benjamin Franklin   James Garfield   Harry Truman   Henry Ford

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