U.S. Presidents Who Were Also Farmers
Monday, February 15, 2016
In honor of President’s Day, we’re taking a look back at 12 U.S. Presidents who were farmers or involved in the agriculture industry. Some may surprise you!
1. George Washington
Washington was well-known for his efforts to improve American agriculture, and he oversaw a vast plantation in Mount Vernon, Virginia growing tobacco, later switching to grains in 1766.1
2. John Adams
Adams grew up on his family’s farm in Boston and was “naturally interested in increasing the fertility of his land.”2
The birthplace of President John Quincy Adams in Quincy, MA
3. Thomas Jefferson
Characterized as one of America’s early agronomists, Jefferson was focused on practices that returned vital elements back to the soil.3
4. James Monroe
In 1788, the 5th President of the U.S., bought an 800 acre farm in Charlottesville, VA. He later purchased and moved to the Highland plantation next to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello garden.4
5. William Henry Harrison
“Before Harrison stepped into politics to become president, where he served for one month before passing away from pneumonia, he retired from the military to settle into farm life in Ohio.”5
6. James C. Tyler
Sherwood Forest Plantation was the home and family farm of our 10th president from 1842 until his death in 1862.6
7. Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln’s background in agriculture was typical of most farming experiences and rural life on the American frontier. He would later transform the United States agricultural system by establishing the Department of Agriculture and the Land Grant system through the Homestead Act.7
8. Theodore Roosevelt
Teddy originally went to Dakota to hunt bison, and during an arduous but successful trip, he became interested in cattle ranching and soon invested most of his fortune into the business. After losing his wife and mother to illness, his Dakota ranch “proved an effective medicine for the grieving politician.”8
9. Harry Truman
A $100 per month bank salary couldn’t keep Truman away from farm life. In 1906 he returned to Missouri to work on the family farm. Some of his tasks including feeding the livestock and milking the cows, but what you might not know is that he could “stir up as good a batch of biscuits as any woman.”9
10. Lyndon Johnson
His summers consisted of helping out on his uncle’s cattle ranch in Texas with a desire to own his own piece of the country. Those dreams became a reality when his widowed aunt gave her “dilapidated 250-acre ranch” to the Senator. LBJ Ranch would eventually grow from 250 acres to 2,700, and he managed to keep farm operations running even through his tenure as Senate Majority Leader, Vice-President, and, finally, President.10
Hayfield at Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park in Johnson City, TX
Mike Brake / Shutterstock.com
11. Jimmy Carter
Georgia’s first and only president, Jimmy Carter, was anxious to join the Navy as he grew up and worked hard to get into Annapolis. After Carter resigned from the Navy to help his family, he flung himself into his family’s peanut farming business before he became involved in politics and ran for President.11
Farm building from the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, GA
12. Bill Clinton
Clinton spent his childhood on a 400-acre farm with cattle, sheep and goats, and his favorite memories include “going with [his] great-uncle to his plot to help him farm.”12 He picked beans, corn and tomatoes, fed animals and more. Learn more about his thoughts on global agriculture.
1 "Farming." George Washington's Mount Vernon. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2016. <http://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/farming/>.
2 Engle, Corliss Knapp. "John Adams, Farmer and Gardener." (n.d.): n. pag. The Arnold Arboretum. Harvard University, 2002. Web. 2 Feb. 2016. <http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/2002-61-4-john-adams-farmer-and-gardener.pdf>.
3 Jewett, Thomas. "Jefferson: The Agronomist - Archiving Early America." Archiving Early America. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2016. <http://www.earlyamerica.com/jefferson-primer/agronomist/>.
4 “James Monroe's First Farm." City of Charlottesville Virginia. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2016. <http://www.charlottesville.org/departments-and-services/departments-h-z/neighborhood-development-services/historic-preservation-and-design-review/historic-resources-committee/historic-markers/james-monroe-s-first-farm>.
5 "William Harrison: Life Before the Presidency." Miller Center of Public Affairs. University of Virginia, n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2016. <http://millercenter.org/president/biography/harrison-life-before-the-presidency>.
6 "Sherwood Forest Plantation - Home of President John Tyler." Sherwood Forest Plantation - Home of President John Tyler. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2016. <http://www.sherwoodforest.org/>.
7 Rasmussen, Wayne D. "Lincoln's Agricultural Legacy." National Agricultural Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2016. <http://www.nal.usda.gov/lincolns-agricultural-legacy>
8 United States. National Park Service. "Theodore Roosevelt the Rancher." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <http://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/historyculture/theodore-roosevelt-the-rancher.htm>
9 United States. National Park Service. "Truman Family Farm." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <http://www.nps.gov/hstr/learn/historyculture/truman-farm-home-photo-tour.htm>
10 United States. National Park Service. "Ranching the LBJ Way.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. < http://www.nps.gov/lyjo/planyourvisit/lbjranching.htm>
11 "Jimmy Carter: Life Before the Presidency." Miller Center. University of Virginia, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <http://millercenter.org/president/biography/carter-life-before-the-presidency>
12 Bill Clinton Talks Global Agriculture - Modern Farmer." Modern Farmer. N.p., 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 08 Feb. 2016. <http://modernfarmer.com/2013/09/bill-clinton/>