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US presidents of the past: Democrat and Republican

Democrat Joe Biden has beaten Republican candidate Donald Trump and becomes the 46th leader of the United States, and the 16th Democrat president.

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US presidents of the past: Democrat and Republican
NARINDER NANU AFP

The White House is preparing to welcome a new leader of the United States, president-elect Joe Biden. The Democrat has beaten Republican candidate Donald Trump and becomes the 46th leader of the United States.

First elections and first presidency

On February 4, 1789, electors chose George Washington to be the first president of the United States. Washington’s term would prove to be a critical six decades in American history. Washington, who obtained power after the approval of the Constitution, the oldest written constitution that is still in force. During this period only men over 21 years of age and with certain wealth could vote.

Andrew Jackson was the first “frontier president.” Unlike previous presidents from wealthy, well-educated families, Andrew Jackson grew up in relative poverty in a log cabin in the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee. He had little formal education, but rose to national fame after leading the US to victory in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. Jackson is the founder of the modern-day Democratic Party. After a bitter loss to John Quincy Adams in the 1824 presidential election, Jackson and his followers broke away from the Republican Party and formed a new party called the Democrats. Republicans who disliked Jackson began to call themselves Whigs. Jackson was a controversial figure, he supported states’ rights and slavery’s expansion into new western territories and used the power of presidential veto more than any previous president. He vetoed 12 bills, more than the first six presidents combined.

The 22nd Amendment

Another of the significant changes that the US presidency has experienced occurred in 1951 thanks to the approval of the 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution. This established that a president could not hold office for more than two terms (8 years in total). Since then, there have been five presidents who have managed to remain in the White House for two terms: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

A unique scenario occurred during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, as he held the position for three terms. This occurred because previously re-election after two terms was not regulated. As a result, Roosevelt's policies were re-elected three times until, after his death, Harry S. Truman limited the presidential term. Roosevelt served the longest, over twelve years, before dying early in his fourth term in 1945. The presidency of William Henry Harrison, who died 31 days after taking office in 1841, was the shortest in American history.

Since the Democratic Party was founded in 1828 as an outgrowth of the Anti-Federalist Party, a total of 15 Democrats have been elected president of the United States. Joe Biden becomes the 16th, at the age of 77. Biden turns 78 on November 20. America’s first seven presidents were neither Democrats nor Republicans. First president George Washington, who detested the very idea of partisan politics, belonged to no party. John Adams, the second president was a Federalist, America’s first political party. Third, through sixth presidents, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams were all members of the Democratic-Republican Party, which later splintered to become the modern Democratic Party and the Whig Party.

With Democrat Joe Biden winning the US presidential election, Donald Trump, becomes a one-term US president. Trump joins the ranks of other commanders-in-chief who did not have a second four-year term in the White House. Some had their presidential careers cut short by death, including John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963. His successor Lyndon B. Johnson made the decision not to run for a second time, with his time in office marred by the Vietnam War. The most recent was George H. W. Bush, a Republican who lost re-election to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992, though his one term in office came after eight years of fellow party member Ronald Reagan.

There have been 19 republican leaders of the United States, going all the way back to Abraham Lincoln in 1861. Lincoln was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States until 1865. He led the country through the American Civil War, the country's greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. He also succeeded in preserving the Union, abolishing slavery, bolstering the federal government, and modernising the US economy. There have been four Democratic-Republican presidents, four Whig presidents and one Federalist president.

President-elect Joe Biden has become the 46th president of the United States, after victory on Saturday.