Can You Tell Us the Last Names of These U.S. Presidents?


By: Gavin Thagard

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons by Mathew Brady

About This Quiz

When you flip through a U.S. history book or listen to historians ramble through a lecture, how often does a president's name come up that you don't recognize? Maybe they were one of the Founding Fathers; maybe they were one of the many Civil War veterans who went on to hold office. Perhaps they were a one-term president who is barely mentioned by the revisionists today. 

Whether they were writing the first laws by candlelight or using complex computer detection systems to defend the country from foreign threats, every president who has served the United States played a role in getting the country to where it is today. That's why it is essential to remember who these world leaders were and what part they contributed to the annals of U.S. history during their respective eras. 

Here's your chance to do that. We've come up with a quiz to help you remember the last names of the 44 presidents who have served our country. Do you think your memory will serve you well, or will those progressive Republicans from the early 20th century get the best of you? 

Get started and dive back into U.S. history by giving us the last names of the presidents listed in this quiz.

This president had to guide the country through a bloody Civil War. What's his last name?

When Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States, he became the first president elected under the Republican Party. The party preached free soil politics, where new states would be added as free states for non-slave owning opportunists.


Do you know the last name of this U.S. president who was assassinated in Texas?

John F. Kennedy was assassinated before he got to finish his first term in office, but he dealt with some major events during his partial tenure. No event was more significant than the Cuban Missile Crisis, which might be the closest the world has come to nuclear destruction.


Can you tell us the last name of this commander-in-chief \ who warned the country about the military-industrial complex?

Before his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower was a national hero during WWII, serving as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. His role in the conflict helped bring down the German war machine led by Adolf Hitler.


When the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, which president who is shown here spoke for the country?

Following the events of Sept. 11, George W. Bush led the United States into a war in the Middle East that was largely supported around the country. However, as the war spread across the region, support began to dwindle.


Are you familiar with this U.S. president who made the decision to drop two bombs on Japan?

After WWII ended, Harry S. Truman recognized the next problem: Communism. In an effort to contain its spread, Truman issued the Truman Doctrine, which offered help to any country trying to keep communism out.


How well do you know the first President of the United States?

Recognizing him as the most powerful man in the new nation, troops from the American Revolution asked George Washington to seize power for himself. Instead, worn out from fighting, Washington decided that democracy was the path forward.


Who is this world leader who was elected twice in the '90s?

Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton, almost became the first husband and wife duo to both be elected president when she ran for election in 2016. However, Hillary was defeated despite winning the popular vote.


Once a member of the Rough Riders, what's the last name of this president?

Theodore Roosevelt was elected as the 26th President of the United States during the Progressive Era of the Republican Party. One of the party's main tasks was to disassociate politics from corporate corruption.


Which Founding Father depicted in this image authored the Declaration of Independence?

After the creation of the United States, Thomas Jefferson split with the other Founding Fathers over the issue of the French Revolution. Jefferson was sympathetic to the revolution and made it part of his politics in the newly formed Democratic-Republican Party.


Is this Civil War general a president you remember from history class?

Ulysses S. Grant was a terrific general, but he was never really fit for a life in the White House. During his time as president, he found himself involved in scams that he seemingly didn't even realize were happening, tarnishing his legacy somewhat.


Can you identify this U.S. president who was the final member of the Whig Party to take office?

The battle over slavery was running rampant when Millard Fillmore came into office after the death of his predecessor. Fillmore managed to tame the conflict slightly by passing the Compromise of 1850, which primarily ended the slave trade in Washington D.C. and tightened laws around fugitive slaves.


Were you paying attention when your teacher taught you about this world leader?

James A. Garfield was assassinated by Charles Guiteau while in office less than a year into his presidency. Guiteau believed that by not rewarding him with a consulship, Garfield had not recognized his efforts in helping the president get elected.


This is the only president to be elected to two non-consecutive terms. Who is he?

Democrats had a tough time getting elected in late 19th century and early 20th century, but Grover Cleveland was one president who broke that mold. Leading the Bourbon Democrats, Cleveland ran on policies supporting businesses and farmers.


Do you recognize this commander-in-chief known for his reliance on the common man?

While the wealthy merchants hated him, Andrew Jackson was able to gain support by relying on populism across the country. Promoting himself as one of the masses, Jackson rallied together Americans who did not own property.


Do you know which president shown here served more terms than anyone else?

The United States was suffering significantly from the Great Depression when Franklin D. Roosevelt came into office in 1933. His New Deal program helped put Americans back to work and stimulated the economy until WWII broke out.


Are you able to provide the last name of this U.S. leader who was forced to resign from office?

Despite its controversial ending, Richard Nixon's presidency wasn't completely void of success. The president was in office for the Apollo 11 moon landing, and he opened up relations with China when he visited the country in 1972.


Does this Founding Father who opposed European colonialism have a familiar face?

European colonialism in the Americas was still extremely prominent even after the American Revolution. In response to this, James Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine, which recognized existing European colonies but opposed the creation of new ones.


Few presidents faced as big of an economic downturn as which one depicted here?

Herbert Hoover ran on humanitarian ideals when he won the presidency in 1929. However, the Great Depression would prove to be too big of an obstacle for him to overcome, which wasn't helped by the fact that he lowered taxes in the face of the crisis.


How familiar are you with this world leader who held office during WWI?

Woodrow Wilson was one of the driving forces behind the League of Nations, which was founded after WWI to maintain peace between countries. However, Congress never got behind the idea, and the United States didn't join the league.


This U.S. president took office after the death of his predecessor. Do you know who he is?

After finishing the term in office of his predecessor, Chester A. Arthur initially sought reelection in 1884. However, he wasn't well supported by his party, and his health was deteriorating, so he gave little effort to his campaign and was defeated by James Blaine.


What's the last name of this Republican president who served in the '80s?

Long before he ran for president, Ronald Reagan had a successful career as an actor in Hollywood. Reagan played in a variety of movies from "Bedtime for Bonzo" to "Hellcats of the Navy."


Who is this one-term president?

Rutherford B. Hayes won the election of 1876 in a close contest against Samuel Tilden that was only decided after the Compromise of 1877. The compromise gave Hayes the presidency, but it also required that he withdraw federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction.


Can you give the last name of this commander-in-chief who signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act?

The abolitionist movement was in full swing when Franklin Pierce took office in 1853. Believing that the movement would only further escalate tensions with the South, Pierce helped pass pro-slavery legislation that would have implications for years to come.


A Founding Father who was an avid diarist, which president is this?

John Adams' wife, Abigail Adams, is as well known as her husband because of her role in his presidency. She served as one of his closest advisors, and an exchange of letters between the two shows just how much information they shared.


Is this world leader who oversaw the Vietnam War a president with which you're familiar?

Lyndon B. Johnson never really wanted to fight the war in Vietnam, but the support for the war remained high throughout most of his presidency. Johnson, instead, preferred to focus on domestic affairs through his "Great Society" legislation.


Did you read enough pages in your U.S. history book to identify this president?

Taught under the tutelage of Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk was a huge proponent of Jacksonian democracy. This political viewpoint stressed the importance of expanding suffrage to keep power out of the hands of the elite.


Are you familiar with this Mexican-American War hero who became the 12th president of the United States?

In preparation for war, Zachary Taylor was sent to Texas while serving as a general in the United States Army. His major victory at Palo Alto made him a national hero and was one of the major reasons he won the presidency.


You might recognize which commander-in-chief shown here for being the last president to serve in the Civil War?

William McKinley presided over the United States during the Spanish-American War in 1898. Ending with the Treaty of Paris, the war was a fairly quick ordeal and gave the United States power over areas like Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands.


How well do you know this vice president who won the presidency amidst controversy from his predecessor?

Gerald Ford held a unique position within the American political system because he was never elected president or vice president. Instead, he served as a replacement in both offices after separate scandals removed his predecessors. In 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned, giving Ford the vice presidency. The following year, Ford became president when Richard Nixon resigned.


This lawyer turned politician was the grandson of another president. Who is he?

Benjamin Harrison was one of the first presidents to move the United States away from its reliance on isolationism. One such policy was standing against Britain and Canada when it came to the overexploitation of seals in the Bering Sea.


Which U.S. president do you see in this image?

John Tyler's political career began at an early age when he was elected to the Virginia state legislature at the age of 21. He later served in both houses of Congress and as the governor of Virginia, giving him a full ranging political career.


Do you know the last name of this Democrat who was the first African-American president in U.S. history?

The presidential election of 2008 pitted two firsts against one another. Not only was Barack Obama the first African-American candidate to make it past the primary, but he ran against John McCain, whose running mate was Sara Palin, who would have been the first female vice president in office had they won.


What's the last name of this commander-in-chief who led the South through Reconstruction?

After taking over the presidency, Andrew Johnson lost favor with the Republican-led Congress because his policies after the Civil War seemed too easy on the South. This eventually led to his impeachment, though he wasn't removed from office.


Can you identify this Founding Father who is known as "The Father of the Constitution"?

While serving as secretary of state, James Madison was able to secure a deal with France known as the Louisiana Purchase. The deal doubled U.S. territory and was obtained at a low price since France was in the middle of a European war.


You might know the last name of the president shown here if you studied the controversial election of 1824.

The son of John Adams, John Quincy Adams served many roles before finally taking over as president of the United States. One of his earliest positions in the government was serving as minister to Prussia under his father.


He was the 15th president of the United States. Who was he?

A member of the Democratic Party, James Buchanan favored politics that benefited slave states in the South. He was president when the Supreme Court ruled on Dred Scott v. Sandford, which decided that the U.S. Constitution did not give citizenship to people of African descent.


Are you able to identify this president who first served as the governor of Georgia?

Jimmy Carter's political career may have ended after only one term as President of the United States, but he remained active in finding solutions to problems both domestic and abroad. For his work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.


Do you recognize this president who had to overcome the scandals of his predecessor?

Running under the Republican Party, Calvin Coolidge promoted small government politics. He believed in leaving the economy alone, or laissez-faire economics, which might have contributed to the economic boom of the '20s.


Who is this president who was the first commander-in-chief born after the American Revolution?

Martin Van Buren came to office partially through the endorsement of Andrew Jackson, with whom he started the Democratic Party. However, his presidency was marred by an economic downturn in 1837, and he lost reelection to a member of the Whig Party.


How familiar are you with this Republican candidate who won the election of 1908?

After leaving the presidency, William Howard Taft finally achieved his career goal of being appointed a Chief Justice of the United States. He held the position from 1921 until his death in 1930.


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