Before he was President: Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren, 1837-1841
lawyer, U.S. senator, governor of New York, vice president under
Van Buren did not attend college - which was not surprising for
young men in the early nineteenth century - but in 1796 his father
called in a political favor and managed to place his son with a
lawyer's office as a law clerk. Martin clerked for Francis Silvester
for seven years, sweeping floors or running errands by day and
studying law at night. He moved to New York City—at that time
inhabited by 60,000—for about a year, and gained admission to the
state bar in 1803 at the age of twenty-one.
William Henry Harrison, 1841 Clerk
of Hamilton County
Harrison's father was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Until 1790 Harrison was home schooled. He then went to medical
school for one year in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1791 his
father died and by law his wealth was transferred to the oldest
sons. Since William was the third son he did not receive any money
and had to quit school in order to get a job. That job turned out to
be the military where he served for many years.
William Harrison served as President about 1 month before he died
from pneumonia, some say brought on by the incredibly long inaugural
address he gave in freezing temperatures.
William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States, was
appointed Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in May, 1836 and was still
the Clerk when he was elected president in 1840.
John Tyler, 1841-1845 lawyer
Tyler was taught to play the fiddle by his father and Tyler dreamed
of become an accomplished concert violinist but pursued the law
instead. At the age of 14 Tyler entered William & Mary college. John
Tyler was admitted to the bar at 19 in 1809. The legal age was 20
but no questions were ever asked or raised. (John Tyler's father was
a friend of President Jefferson.) After he retired from public life,
he often performed for guests at parties. His second wife, Julia,
sometimes accompanied him on the guitar.