Before he was President: Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor, 1849-1850 solider
President Taylor was one of six Presidents born in a log cabin. Although educated, Zachary was a poor student. His handwriting, spelling, and grammar were crude and unrefined throughout his life. Even as a boy, he wanted a career in the military; for a planter's son, it was a respectable alternative to law and the ministry. Taylor received his first commission as an officer in 1808 and was immediately assigned to command the garrison at Fort Pickering, located in modern-day Memphis. From that moment until his election as President, Taylor was in the military, stationed at a succession of frontier outposts. Source

Millard Fillmore, 1850-1853 cloth-maker
At the age of 14, Fillmore’s dad “apprenticed” him (it was indentured servitude) to a cloth maker in New Hope, NY, more than 100 miles away from his hometown and his eight siblings. Fillmore hated it so much it’s said that he walked the entire way home after four months. He found a similar position much closer and worked there for a few years until deciding to pursue a career in law. Source

Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857 speaker of the house
While at Bowdoin College in Maine Pierce had honed his public speaking, which made him a natural for the legal profession. IT was also at Bowdoin that Pierce served as the captain of the student military company (perhaps an early version of the Army ROTC). Right after graduating from college Pierce received a job as postmaster in his childhood hometown of Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Most likely because of his excellent speaking skills, he was also elected "moderator of town meetings" in New Hampshire.

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

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