Our First Sixteen Presidents

110 Portraits, Paintings, and Lithographs with Biographical Narratives by Franklin P. Rice (1882) and Henry W. Rugg (1888)
Ray L. Winstead, Editor

Our First Sixteen Presidents
Color Edition
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Our First Sixteen Presidents
Black and White Edition

1. George Washington

2. John Adams

3. Thomas Jefferson

4. James Madison

5. James Monroe

6. John Quincy Adams

7. Andrew Jackson

8. Martin Van Buren

9. William Henry Harrison

10. John Tyler

11. James K. Polk

12. Zachary Taylor

13. Millard Fillmore

14. Franklin Pierce

15. James Buchanan

16. Abraham Lincoln

Book Description

This book contains 110 portraits, paintings, and lithographs of the first sixteen Presidents of the United States, as well as biographical narratives of the presidents, written by two historians in the 1880’s.  Images were chosen by the editor from various sources and modified for this publication, e.g., images have been cropped and “sharpened.”  (See the back of the book for more information about the images.)  The editor retyped the 1880’s documents to provide versions easier to read but did retain the original spellings and punctuations.  Images of the signatures of the presidents came from Charles H. Nicoll’s book Our Presidents, from 1788 to 1892 (1892).

The two authors writing the narratives wrote from two very different perspectives.  Franklin P. Rice, who wrote Portraits and Sketches of the Presidents of the United States from Washington to Arthur (1882), was very blunt in his brief analyses, while Henry W. Rugg, who wrote The Presidents of the United States (1888), wrote longer analyses and was more philosophical.  For example, Rice wrote that “General Jackson possessed but few qualifications for the high office to which he was elevated.  He had no learning and but meagre information.  Of statesmanship he had no conception.  His disposition was arbitrary and his temper ungovernable.  But he possessed executive ability, and in an emergency never hesitated to ‘take the responsibility.’  His integrity and patriotism are unquestioned.  His administration was stormy, inconsistent and undignified in the extreme.”  In contrast, Rugg wrote “When public opinion puts an estimate upon character it sometimes seems that many noble qualities are left entirely out of account, just because they lead to actions not in harmony with the prevailing thought.  History presents a broader view with the progress of civilization, and men like Andrew Jackson are more wisely judged, as their petty differences of opinion, their minor faults, their lack of culture or attainments sink into oblivion, while the enduring record of the positive attributes which made their influence felt upon the destiny of the Nation, grows brighter with each succeeding year.”  The modern reader will also notice the common use of longer sentences (especially by Henry W. Rugg) and different word choices commonly used in the nineteenth century, e.g., “removed” to another location, rather than “moved.”

             This book comes in both a color edition and a black and white edition.