Posted on 2 Comments

Presidential Nicknames

Conversations can take many unexplained twists and turns, such as the one Deborah and I had a few days ago. My interest was generated by a report in the newspaper listing the most popular baby names for last year (Aiden and Sophia, in case you missed it) with the usual array of uniquely spelled names to make their child stand out.

That moved the conversation to nicknames where I noted that Spike and Butch had fallen off the radar in recent years.

This morning I was reading a story about Andrew Jackson and started thinking about Presidential nicknames. Presidential nicknames have been a staple of the press since the beginning of this country and the names can have a positive or negative slant, depending on the source.

With that in mind, I decided to gather a list of these nicknames into a single location.


Entered Office


George Washington 1789 Father of Our Country
John Adams 1797 Father of the Navy
Thomas Jefferson 1801 Father of the Declaration of Independence
James Madison 1809 Father of the Constitution
James Monroe 1817 James the Lesser
John Quincy Adams 1825 Old Man Eloquent
Andrew Jackson 1829 Old Hickory
Martin Van Buren 1837 Old Kinderhook
William H. Harrison 1841 Old Tippecanoe
John Tyler, Jr. 1841 His Accidency
James Knox Polk 1845 Young Hickory
Zachary Taylor 1849 Old Rough and Ready
Millard Fillmore 1850 The Accidental President
Franklin Pierce 1853 The Fainting General
James Buchanan 1857 The Sage of Wheatland
Abraham Lincoln 1861 Honest Abe
Andrew Johnson 1865 Sir Veto
Ulysses S. Grant 1869 Unconditional Surrender Grant
Rutherford B. Hayes 1877 The Usurper
James A. Garfield 1881 The Preacher President
Chester A. Arthur 1881 The Gentleman Boss
Grover Cleveland 1885/1893 The Perpetual Candidate
Benjamin Harrison 1889 Young Tippecanoe
William McKinley 1897 The Major
Theodore Roosevelt 1901 The Rough Rider
William Howard Taft 1909 Big Bill
Woodrow Wilson 1913 The Schoolmaster
in Politics
Warren G. Harding 1921 Wobbly Warren
Calvin Coolidge 1923 Silent Cal
Herbert Hoover 1929 The Great Engineer
Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933 The New Dealer
Harry S Truman 1945 Give ’em Hell Harry
Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953 Ike
John F. Kennedy 1961 King of Camelot
Lyndon B. Johnson 1963 LBJ
Richard M. Nixon 1969 Tricky Dick
Gerald Ford 1974 Mr. Nice Guy
James “Jimmy” Carter 1977 The Peanut Farmer
Ronald Reagan 1981 The Great Communicator
George H.W. Bush 1989 Bush the Elder
William “Bill” J. Clinton 1993 The Comeback Kid
George W. Bush 2001 Dubya
Some nicknames are quite descriptive, while others will require the story behind them. Early on, Father and Old were popular monikers for our Presidents with many derived from the war for independence.
Some nicknames didn’t arrive until after the President left office with others derogatory or praising in nature since the nicknames were given either by fans or foes, none being neutral. Some, like Old Hickory, were inspired by their life events, while others like LBJ fell somewhere short of brilliant.
Most Presidents earned many nicknames, but I’ve tried to list the most familiar association for each.
What’s your favorite Presidential nickname? Leave it in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Presidential Nicknames

  1. Great list! Fun!

    Oh, but you’ve got Harry S Truman’s name spelled wrong.

  2. oops!, It’s all better now. Deborah said I could blame it on my editor, but careless and fast don’t always mix. Thanks for the correction, Dave.

Leave a Reply