You are currently viewing A list of the famous US Presidents who Were Democrats

A list of the famous US Presidents who Were Democrats

When you look at Congress, you’ll see Democrats and Republicans always supporting opposing sides, but was it always like this? Were the distinctions between Democrats and Republicans always this straightforward? Not really. Many presidents were not very rigid when it came to political ideologies. Here are a few famous US presidents who were democrats. 

The Democratic Party has played a pivotal role in shaping the history and trajectory of the United States through the leadership of its presidents. From the early 19th century to the present day, Democratic presidents have navigated the nation through wars, economic upheavals, social transformations, and technological advancements. This blog delves into the lives and legacies of these Democratic presidents. It highlights their contributions, beliefs, and the controversies they faced during their tenures.

Read More, All Vice Presidents of the United States of America

15 Presidents of the USA who were Democrats

Starting with Andrew Jackson, a war hero who championed the common man, to Joe Biden, who assumed office amid a global pandemic and political polarization, each Democratic president brought unique perspectives and policies to the White House. Let’s find out more right here. 

1. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)

Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, was a military hero and a populist who profoundly influenced American politics. Known as “Old Hickory” for his tough demeanor, Jackson was the first president to come from humble beginnings, which endeared him to the common man. His presidency marked the rise of Jacksonian democracy, emphasizing greater democratic participation for the white male populace and advocating for the principle of majority rule.

Jackson’s tenure was notable for his fierce opposition to the Second Bank of the United States, which he believed wielded too much power and favored the wealthy elite. His successful campaign to dismantle the bank was controversial and led to economic instability and the Panic of 1837.

A significant and contentious aspect of Jackson’s presidency was his policy towards Native Americans. The Indian Removal Act of 1830, which he signed into law, led to the forced relocation of thousands of Native Americans from their ancestral homelands in the Southeastern United States to designated territories west of the Mississippi River. This forced migration, known as the Trail of Tears, resulted in the deaths of thousands of Native Americans and remains a dark chapter in American history.

2. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)

Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States, was a key architect of the Democratic Party and a skilled political strategist. Known as the “Little Magician” for his shrewdness, Van Buren was instrumental in organizing Andrew Jackson’s political campaigns and in shaping the Democratic Party’s structure and philosophy.

Van Buren’s presidency, however, was marred by the Panic of 1837, a severe economic depression triggered by speculative lending practices and Jackson’s policies, such as the dismantling of the Bank of the United States. The economic downturn led to widespread bank failures, unemployment, and business bankruptcies, significantly tarnishing Van Buren’s presidency. 

An advocate of states’ rights and a firm believer in the Jeffersonian principles of limited federal government, Van Buren opposed the expansion of slavery into new territories. However, he did not take a strong public stance on the issue during his presidency. His tenure also saw the continued implementation of the Indian Removal policies initiated by Jackson.

Despite his single term in office and the economic struggles of his presidency, Van Buren’s legacy includes his role in solidifying the Democratic Party and his contributions to American political organization. After his presidency, Van Buren remained active in politics, including a run for the presidency in 1848 as a candidate for the Free Soil Party, advocating against the expansion of slavery.

3. James K. Polk (1845-1849)

James K. Polk was the eleventh President of the United States. He is often remembered for his role in significantly expanding the nation’s territory. A firm believer in Manifest Destiny, Polk was determined to extend the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific. His presidency achieved this through the successful prosecution of the Mexican-American War and the negotiation of the Oregon Treaty with Britain.

Polk’s administration saw the annexation of Texas and the acquisition of California and New Mexico through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. It also saw the establishment of the Oregon Territory’s northern boundary at the 49th parallel. These expansions added vast territories to the United States and fulfilled his campaign promise to serve only one term, during which he accomplished all of his major goals.

However, Polk’s aggressive expansionism was controversial and exacerbated sectional tensions over the issue of slavery. The newly acquired territories reignited debates over whether they would enter the Union as free or slave states, setting the stage for the conflicts that eventually led to the Civil War.

Polk is often regarded as one of the most effective one-term presidents in American history, having expanded the nation’s boundaries and set a precedent for executive leadership in achieving policy goals.

4. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)

Franklin Pierce was the fourteenth President of the United States. He served during a tumultuous time in American history. A Northerner with Southern sympathies, Pierce’s presidency was dominated by issues of slavery and sectional conflict. His administration’s most controversial act was the signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise. 

The Kansas-Nebraska Act led to violent confrontations between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers in what became known as “Bleeding Kansas.” Pierce’s inability to manage the violence and maintain order further polarized the nation and damaged his political standing.

Pierce was also involved in foreign policy initiatives, such as the Gadsden Purchase, which acquired land from Mexico for a southern transcontinental railroad, and attempts to acquire Cuba, which ultimately failed. His pro-Southern policies and actions alienated many in the North and weakened the Democratic Party, contributing to his failure to secure re-nomination in 1856.

Read More, United States Presidents Who Were Assassinated 

5. James Buchanan (1857-1861)

James Buchanan, the fifteenth President of the United States, is often regarded as one of the least effective presidents due to his failure to address the escalating sectional tensions that led to the Civil War. Buchanan, a staunch Democrat from Pennsylvania, believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution. He was also a strong advocate for states’ rights, which often translated into support for Southern interests.

One of Buchanan’s major controversies was his support for the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution in Kansas, which sought to admit Kansas as a slave state despite widespread opposition. His administration’s handling of the Dred Scott decision also fueled tensions. Buchanan endorsed the Supreme Court’s ruling, which stated that African Americans could not be citizens and that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in the territories.

Buchanan’s inaction and indecisiveness as Southern states began seceding following Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860 are heavily criticized. He believed that while secession was illegal, the federal government had no constitutional authority to coerce states back into the Union, leaving the problem for his successor to resolve.

6. Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897)

Grover Cleveland, the twenty-second and twenty-fourth President of the United States, is unique as the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. Known for his honesty, integrity, and commitment to classical liberalism, Cleveland was a staunch opponent of political corruption, patronage, and high tariffs.

During his first term, Cleveland focused on civil service reform and vetoed numerous bills he deemed excessive or inappropriate, earning him the nickname “Veto President.” He also advocated for reducing tariffs, which he believed unfairly benefited industrialists at the expense of consumers and farmers. However, his push for tariff reform was met with strong opposition and was a significant issue in the 1888 election, which he lost to Benjamin Harrison.

Cleveland’s second term was marked by economic turmoil, specifically the Panic of 1893, one of the worst economic depressions in U.S. history. His response to the crisis, which included maintaining the gold standard and repealing the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, was controversial and led to a split in the Democratic Party. His firm stance against the free coinage of silver alienated many within his party who supported bimetallism.

7. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)

Woodrow Wilson, the twenty-eighth President of the United States, was a progressive reformer and a significant figure in both domestic and international affairs. His presidency is noted for his ambitious reform agenda known as the “New Freedom,” which sought to regulate big business and banking, reduce tariffs, and improve labor conditions. 

Wilson’s second term was dominated by World War I. Initially advocating for neutrality, he eventually led the U.S. into the war in 1917 to “make the world safe for democracy.” Wilson played a pivotal role in the post-war peace process, particularly in the creation of the League of Nations. It was an international organization aimed at preventing future conflicts. However, his vision for the League was rejected by the U.S. Senate, largely due to opposition from isolationist Republicans.

Wilson’s presidency was also marked by significant social and racial issues. Despite his progressive stance on many issues, Wilson’s administration enforced segregation in federal offices and opposed efforts to promote civil rights for African Americans. Wilson suffered a severe stroke in 1919, which incapacitated him for the remainder of his term.

Read More, 10 Worst US Presidents

8. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the thirty-second President of the United States. He served four terms and is renowned for his leadership during two of the most critical periods in American history: the Great Depression and World War II. His presidency was marked by the implementation of the New Deal, a series of programs and public work projects

The New Deal included significant legislation such as the Social Security Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act, and the establishment of agencies like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). These programs helped revitalize the American economy and provided critical support to millions of Americans.

During World War II, Roosevelt’s leadership was instrumental in guiding the U.S. through the conflict. He established the Lend-Lease program to support Allied nations before the U.S. entered the war and played a key role in strategic planning and the formation of the United Nations.

9. Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)

Harry S. Truman, the thirty-third President of the United States, assumed office following the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. One of his most controversial decisions was authorizing the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which led to Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II.

Truman’s foreign policy was dominated by the onset of the Cold War. He implemented the Truman Doctrine, pledging support to countries resisting communism. He also implemented the Marshall Plan, which provided economic aid to rebuild Europe. His administration also saw the creation of NATO, solidifying Western alliances against the Soviet Union.

Domestically, Truman struggled with labor strikes and civil rights issues. He issued Executive Order 9981, desegregating the armed forces, and attempted to advance civil rights legislation, though many of his proposals were blocked by Congress. His Fair Deal program aimed at expanding social security, raising the minimum wage, and promoting housing projects faced mixed success.

Read More, Battle Between Two Urban Giants Washington DC vs NYC

10. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)

John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, remains one of the most charismatic and inspirational figures in American history. Elected as the youngest president at the age of 43, Kennedy’s presidency is remembered for its promise of progress and change encapsulated in his famous call to action: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

Kennedy’s administration faced significant Cold War challenges. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 was a major embarrassment, but he redeemed his leadership during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. His firm stance and negotiations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev averted nuclear war, earning him international respect.

Domestically, Kennedy championed civil rights, proposing comprehensive legislation to end segregation and combat racial discrimination. His administration also focused on space exploration, setting the ambitious goal of landing a man on the moon, which inspired national pride and scientific advancement.

11. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)

Lyndon B. Johnson, the thirty-sixth President of the United States, assumed office following Kennedy’s assassination. Johnson’s presidency is marked by significant achievements in civil rights and social welfare, as well as the controversial escalation of the Vietnam War.

Johnson’s domestic agenda, known as the “Great Society,” aimed to eliminate poverty and racial injustice. He successfully pushed through landmark legislation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which were monumental steps towards ending segregation and ensuring voting rights for African Americans. His administration also established Medicare and Medicaid, improving healthcare for the elderly and low-income individuals.

Despite these achievements, Johnson’s presidency was overshadowed by the Vietnam War. His decision to increase U.S. military involvement led to widespread anti-war protests and deeply divided the nation. The Tet Offensive in 1968 further eroded public support, leading Johnson to announce he would not seek re-election.

12. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)

Jimmy Carter was the thirty-ninth President of the United States. He is often remembered for his emphasis on human rights and his post-presidency humanitarian efforts. Carter’s presidency was marked by both notable achievements and significant challenges.

Carter’s foreign policy focused on promoting peace and human rights. His most significant achievement was brokering the Camp David Accords in 1978, which led to a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. He also emphasized human rights in his dealings with countries such as the Soviet Union and Latin American dictatorships.

Domestically, Carter faced severe economic issues, including high inflation, unemployment, and an energy crisis. His efforts to address these problems, such as establishing the Department of Energy and promoting energy conservation, had limited success. The Iranian hostage crisis, in which 52 American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days, severely undermined his presidency and contributed to his defeat in the 1980 election.

Read More, 20 Influential Supreme Court Justices of the USA

13. Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

Bill Clinton, the forty-second President of the United States, served two terms marked by significant economic prosperity, technological advancement, and political controversy. Coming from a modest background in Arkansas, Clinton was a charismatic leader who focused on centrist policies, known as the “Third Way”. He aimed to balance progressive social policies with fiscal conservatism.

One of Clinton’s major achievements was presiding over the longest peacetime economic expansion in American history. His administration saw substantial job growth, reduced unemployment, and a budget surplus. His key legislative accomplishments included the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), welfare reform through the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Clinton’s presidency was also marred by several controversies, the most significant being his impeachment in 1998. The impeachment was related to charges of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from his extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Although the House of Representatives voted to impeach him, he was acquitted by the Senate and completed his term in office.

14. Barack Obama (2009-2017)

Barack Obama, the forty-fourth President of the United States, made history as the first African American to hold the office. His presidency was characterized by efforts to address economic challenges, expand healthcare, and promote social justice. Elected during the Great Recession, Obama’s early administration focused on economic recovery through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

One of Obama’s signature achievements was the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as “Obamacare.” The ACA significantly expanded healthcare coverage, prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and aimed to reduce overall healthcare costs. This landmark legislation faced significant opposition and legal challenges but remains a cornerstone of his legacy.

In foreign policy, Obama prioritized diplomacy and multilateralism. He ended U.S. military involvement in Iraq, increased troop levels in Afghanistan before beginning a drawdown, and oversaw the operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011. He also worked to improve relations with Cuba, leading to the restoration of diplomatic ties, and negotiated the Iran nuclear deal, aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Read More, Barack Obama’s Presidency: Policies, Impact and Legacy

15. Joe Biden (2021-present)

Joe Biden was the forty-sixth President of the United States. He assumed office amid multiple crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, economic instability, and deep political polarization. A seasoned politician with decades of experience in the Senate and as Vice President under Barack Obama, Biden’s presidency has focused on tackling these urgent issues through extensive legislative measures and executive actions.

One of Biden’s early achievements was the passage of the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package aimed at providing economic relief to individuals, businesses, and local governments affected by the pandemic. The plan included direct payments to Americans, extended unemployment benefits, and funding for vaccine distribution and public health measures.

Biden’s administration has also prioritized addressing climate change, rejoining the Paris Agreement, and proposing ambitious infrastructure and climate initiatives through the Build Back Better framework. His administration’s efforts to promote racial equity, protect voting rights, and support LGBTQ+ rights reflect his commitment to social justice and inclusion.

Read More, Why Does the US Support Israel? Is There a Red Line for USA?

Evolution of the Democratic Party: Origin to Today

The Democratic Party, founded in 1828, is the oldest active political party in the United States. Its evolution reflects the nation’s changing political landscape. Initially, the party championed the interests of agrarian workers and promoted states’ rights under leaders like Andrew Jackson. Jackson’s populism laid the foundation for the party’s early identity, advocating for the “common man” against elite interests.

In the mid-19th century, the party faced internal conflicts over slavery, leading to a split that weakened it during the Civil War. Post-war, the Democrats became the party of the South, opposing Reconstruction and advocating for segregation.

The early 20th century saw a shift with the progressive reforms of Woodrow Wilson, who introduced significant changes like the Federal Reserve Act. The Great Depression further transformed the party under Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose New Deal policies expanded federal government intervention in the economy to provide social welfare and stimulate recovery. This era marked the Democrats as champions of social justice and economic reform.

The civil rights movement of the 1960s, led by figures like Lyndon B. Johnson, realigned the party’s base, embracing racial equality and social liberalism, which alienated many Southern white voters. Since then, the Democratic Party has increasingly focused on issues like healthcare, environmental protection, and LGBTQ+ rights, reflecting a broad coalition of urban, minority, and progressive voters. 

Democrats vs Republicans: Where do they differ?

To know why Democrats openly support some issues and take a hard stance, it is important to understand Republicans who sit on the opposite side of the aisle. Here is an overview of the differences between Democrats and Republicans. 

Economic PolicyAdvocate for government intervention in the economy, including progressive taxation and social welfare programs to address inequality.Support free market principles, lower taxes, deregulation, and limited government intervention to promote economic growth.
Social IssuesGenerally, support progressive social policies, including LGBTQ+ rights, abortion rights, and gun control.Tend to hold conservative views, opposing abortion, supporting traditional family values, and advocating for gun rights.
HealthcareAdvocate for expanding access to healthcare, often supporting policies like the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and universal healthcare.Prefer market-based healthcare solutions, emphasizing personal responsibility and opposing government-run healthcare systems.
Climate ChangeEmphasize the importance of addressing climate change through regulation, renewable energy investments, and international agreements like the Paris Accord.More skeptical of climate change regulations, often prioritizing economic growth and energy independence through traditional energy sources.
ImmigrationSupport comprehensive immigration reform, including pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and protections for DACA recipients.Advocate for stricter immigration controls, stronger border security, and policies to curb illegal immigration.

Read More, Most Shocking and Interesting Facts About USA


The Democratic presidents of the United States have each contributed uniquely to the nation’s development. From Andrew Jackson’s populist initiatives to Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms and Joe Biden’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, these leaders have sought to address the needs and aspirations of the American people. However, they have also been involved in major controversies, mostly involving slavery and the rigidity of the Constitution. 


Who was the first Democratic president of the United States?

The first Democratic president of the United States was Andrew Jackson, who served from 1829 to 1837. He is known for his populist approach, advocating for the common man, implementing policies such as the Indian Removal Act and opposing the national bank.

Which Democratic president served two non-consecutive terms?

Grover Cleveland is the only Democratic president who served two non-consecutive terms. He was both the 22nd and 24th president, serving from 1885 to 1889 and from 1893 to 1897.

What were some major accomplishments of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency?

Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served from 1933 to 1945, is best known for his New Deal policies, which aimed to recover from the Great Depression through social and economic reforms. He also led the country through most of World War II, establishing strong alliances and laying the groundwork for the United Nations.

How did Barack Obama’s presidency impact healthcare in the United States?

Barack Obama’s presidency significantly impacted healthcare through the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. The ACA expanded healthcare coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, prohibited denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and aimed to reduce healthcare costs, marking a substantial reform in the U.S. healthcare system.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

Leave a Reply