- George Washington, the first president, was born on February 22, 1732, at his father’s plantation on Popes Creek, in Westmoreland County. He married Martha Dandridge Custis, a widow with two young children, on January 6, 1759. Washington commanded Virginia troops during the French and Indian War (1754–1763) and represented first Frederick and afterwards Fairfax County in the House of Burgesses. He also represented Fairfax County in the first two Revolutionary Conventions of 1774 and 1775. In 1775 Washington became commander of the Continental army, which he led to final victory at Yorktown six years later. He also presided over the constitutional convention that met at Philadelphia in 1787. The Father of His Country, as Washington was often called, served two presidential terms from April 30, 1789, through March 3, 1797, after declining a third term. Washington died December 14, 1799, at Mount Vernon and is buried there.
- Thomas Jefferson, the third president, was born on April 13, 1743 at Shadwell, in Albemarle County. He married Martha Wayles Skelton in 1772, and they had five daughters and one son. Before his election to the presidency in 1801, Jefferson had served in the colonial and state legislatures, as governor of Virginia (1779–1781), as minister to France (1784–1789), as secretary of state (1790–1793), and as vice president of the United States (1797–1801). Jefferson served two terms as president from March 4, 1801, through March 3, 1809. He was also the author of the Declaration of Independence and of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and the founder of the University of Virginia. Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, at Monticello, where he is buried.
- James Madison, the fourth president, was born on March 16, 1751, near Port Conway, in King George County. He married Dolley Payne Todd in 1794. They had no children. Madison first served in the state legislature in 1776. As a member of the constitutional convention at Philadelphia in 1787, Madison played a leading role in the drafting and adoption of the United States Constitution and became known as the Father of the Constitution. He served as secretary of state under Jefferson and succeeded the latter as president. Madison’s two terms lasted from March 4, 1809, through March 3, 1817, during which time the United States fought the War of 1812 with Great Britain. Madison died at Montpelier, in Orange County, on June 28, 1836, and is buried there.
- James Monroe, the fifth president, was born on April 28, 1758, in Westmoreland County and lived at various times in Fredericksburg, in Albemarle County, and at Oak Hill, in Loudoun County. He married Elizabeth Kortright, of New York, in 1786, and they had two daughters. He was twice governor of Virginia, held various diplomatic posts, and served under Madison as secretary of state and as secretary of war before his election as president. During his service as secretary of war, he continued to act as secretary of state. Monroe served two terms as president from March 4, 1817, through March 3, 1825. He died in New York City on July 4, 1831, and was buried there. On July 5, 1858, his remains were reinterred in Richmond‘s Hollywood Cemetery.
- William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, was born on February 9, 1773, at Berkeley, in Charles City County. He married Anna Symes, of New Jersey, and they had six sons and four daughters. Harrison spent most of his adult life in the Northwest Territory and in Ohio. He won fame in the Indian wars and was the victor at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. He also commanded American troops in the War of 1812. Inaugurated on March 4, 1841, Harrison served only one month before dying in the White House on April 4. He is buried in North Bend, Ohio.
- John Tyler, the tenth president, was born on March 29, 1790, at Greenway, in Charles City County. He was married twice, first to Letitia Christian, of New Kent County, and then to Julia Gardiner, of New York, and he had a total of eight sons and six daughters. Tyler lived at Sherwood Forest, in Charles City County. He served as a representative and a senator from Virginia to the United States Congress and as governor of the commonwealth. Elected vice president in 1840, Tyler succeeded Harrison as president after the latter’s death. Tyler took the oath on April 6, 1841, and served through March 3, 1845. The former president supported Virginia’s secession from the Union in 1861 and was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives. On January 18, 1862, he died in Richmond, where he had gone to attend the opening session of that body. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery.
- Zachary Taylor, the twelfth president, was born on November 24, 1784, in Orange County and grew up in Kentucky. He married Margaret Smith, of Maryland, in 1810, and they had five daughters and one son. Taylor fought in various Indian wars and won his greatest fame in the Mexican War (1846–1848) with his victories at Palo Alto, Monterey, and Buena Vista. Inaugurated on March 5, 1849, he served only sixteen months and died in office on July 9, 1850. He is buried in Louisville, Kentucky.
- Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the twenty-eighth president, was born in Staunton on December 28, 1856, and grew up in Georgia and in South Carolina. Wilson and his first wife, Ellen Louise Axson, of Rome, Georgia, who died in 1914, had three daughters. Wilson married Edith Bolling Galt, of Wytheville, in 1915. He served as president of Princeton University (1902–1910), governor of New Jersey (1911–1913), and president of the United States from March 4, 1913, through March 3, 1921. During his administration the United States entered World War I (1914–1918) on the side of the Allies. As part of the peace settlement, Wilson proposed the foundation of the League of Nations, and he fought unsuccessfully for American participation in that organization. He died in Washington, D.C., on February 3, 1924, and is buried in the National Cathedral.
Presidents of the United States from Virginia
The following Virginians served as president of the United States.