Did Your Know?Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States, is often referred as the 'The Accidental President' or 'His Accidency'. The nickname stuck to him after he incidentally became president due to the sudden death of Zachary Taylor.
The controversial George W. Bush had plenty of nicknames, like Bushie or Shrub. And when I say Slick Willie or Teflon Bill, you obviously know that I am talking about yours truly, William Jefferson Clinton, or Bill Clinton. Presidential nicknames aren't a recent trend, they go all the way back to George Washington. Most of you might know these nicknames, and some of them might even surprise you. Either way, you will surely get to learn some interesting trivia about our presidents.
The following section enlists the name of presidents in a reverse order. It begins with the first African-American President, Barack Obama, and ends with President George Washington. Most presidents carry multiple nicknames, some are allotted in reference to their political career before becoming president, while some are given looking at the various decisions they made during their tenure as president. Some nicknames signify physical traits, and some stick due to their involvement in a political scandal.
Grover Cleveland was reelected, and hence served as the 22nd and 24th of the United States of America.
List of Nicknames of the Presidents
44. Barack Obama
Library of Congress P&P Division (Reproduction No: LC-DIG-ppbd-00358)
No Drama Obama:
Retired Air Force Chief of Staff General Tony McPeak called President Obama, 'No Drama Obama' because of his cautious and error-free presidential campaign.
43. George W. Bush
The word 'Dubya' represents the Texas pronunciation of the letter 'W'.
42. Bill Clinton
Library of Congress P&P Division (Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-107700)
This nickname was coined by Paul Greenberg, in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in 1980, when Clinton returned as Governor of Arkansas.
The First Black President:
Nobel Prize-wining author Toni Morrison called Clinton 'The First Black President' as he drew strong support from the African-American community during his election campaigns.
The Big Dog:
'The Big Dog' is a nickname used by several media outlets referring to the surge in Clinton's post-presidential popularity.
41. George H.W. Bush
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Papa Bush, Bush the Elder, and George Bush, Sr.:
All the nicknames assigned to him were to differentiate his name from his son, former President George W. Bush.
40. Ronald Reagan
Library of Congress P&P Division/ photograph by Carol M. Highsmith (Reproduction No: LC-DIG-highsm-15747)
It was President Reagan's father who named him 'Dutch' because of his Dutchman appearance, and the Dutchboy haircut.
The Great Communicator:
His extraordinary ability to not only speak, but to connect with the audiences, earned him the moniker 'The Great Communicator'.
The Teflon President:
Even though many scandals erupted during Reagan's presidency, his image remained untarnished. The people simply loved him, and hence, he earned this unique nickname coined by Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder.
39. Jimmy Carter
Dept of Defense/vis Wikimedia Commons (PD)
The Peanut Farmer:
Peanut farming was the main occupation of the Carter family, and Jimmy Carter used this image in his early political career campaigns to become popular among the masses.
38. Gerald Ford
Library of Congress, P&P Division, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Collection, [Reproduction No:LC-DIG-ppmsca-08536]
Mr. Nice Guy:
President Ford earned this nice nickname due to his clean, non-controversial, and non-partisan image.
President Ford was named 'Jerry' by his stepfather, who he believed to be his real father till he was 17.
37. Richard Nixon
Dept of Defense/NARA
Contrary to the popular rumors that this nickname emerged after Nixon was found guilty in the Watergate Scandal, 'Tricky Dick' was actually given to him by Helen Gahagan Douglas during the 1950 US Senate race of California. This nickname was in reference to Nixon's alleged use of dirty tricks during the campaign.
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
Library of Congress P&P Division (Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-13036)
Known as the 'biggest liar' in his college days, Johnson was also called 'Bullshit Johnson' because of his manipulative and deceitful nature.
Johnson inherited this nickname after being elected as the Democratic candidate for the Senate. He won by a mere 87 votes against Coke Stevenson, a popular Texas governor. Although the charges were never proved, most people believed that the voting was rigged, and started calling him 'Landslide Johnson'.
President Johnson hated wasting electricity, and would often roam in the White House turning off the unused lights, earning him the nickname 'Light-Bulb Lyndon'.
35. John F. Kennedy
It is often said that President Kennedy himself came up with this popular abbreviation.
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
: 'Ike' was Eisenhower's childhood nickname, and was also popular for being in his campaign slogan 'I Like Ike'.
He was also known as 'Duckpin' due to his fondness for duckpin bowling.
33. Harry S. Truman
Give 'Em Hell Harry:
This nickname stuck to President Truman after he uttered this famous line, "I never gave anybody hell... I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell."
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
He used FDR to shorten his name, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
31. Herbert Hoover
Library of Congress P&P Division (Reproduction No: LC-USZ62-24155)
The Great Humanitarian:
He got this nickname after the American Relief Administration, under his command, saved millions of Russians during the famine of 1921.
30. Calvin Coolidge
Library of Congress P&P Division (Reproduction No: LC-USZ62-110629)
Although he was known to be an effective speaker, in private, Calvin Coolidge was a man of few words, and therefore, was often referred as 'Silent Cal'.
29. Warren G. Harding
He was given this funny nickname because he hardly made any important decisions during his term as president.
28. Woodrow Wilson
This nickname came about because Wilson was an exceptional historian, and an amazing conversationalist. He never hired speech writers to make him sound more eloquent.
He was called 'The Schoolmaster' as he had served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910.
27. William Howard Taft
'Big Lub' was President Taft's childhood nickname.
Taft was nicknamed 'Big Chief' due to his acceptance of the role of Chief Justice, post presidency.
26. Theodore Roosevelt
The Hero of San Juan Hill:
President Roosevelt is credited for winning the Battle of San Juan Hill with his Rough Riders. He was a Spanish-American war hero, and hence referred as 'The Hero of San Juan Hill'.
The Trust Buster:
Roosevelt became 'The Trust Buster' after he broke the alliance between Northern Securities Company, a railroad holding company organized by J.P. Morgan and empire builder James J. Hill. He wanted to ensure that no unfair means were used in businesses, and wanted to protect the interests of the common man.
: This nickname stuck when Roosevelt became a hero after the Spanish-American War. Although Roosevelt hated this name, he kept it because of its popularity.
25. William McKinley
The Idol of Ohio:
President McKinley was nicknamed 'The Idol of Ohio' because he was from the state of Ohio, and was loved and adored by the locals.
The Napoleon of Protection
: McKinley was nicknamed 'The Napoleon of Protection' because of the Tariff Act of 1890 that increased almost 50% duty on imports to protect domestic industries.
23. Benjamin Harrison
Library of Congress P&P Division (Reproduction No: LC-DIG-cwpbh-03891)
The Front Porch Campaigner:
During the 1888 election, it is said that Benjamin Harrison gave more than 80 speeches from his front porch to large crowds gathered in the yard of his home.
The Human Iceberg
: Although President Harrison was known to engage thousands with his great speaking skills, he used to appear extremely cold and detached speaking with people on a personal level. He was referred as 'The Human Iceberg' by his staff and colleagues.
22. Grover Cleveland
He was called 'Uncle Jumbo' by his contemporaries for his huge size.
Hangman of Buffalo:
This nickname was in reference to his tenure as the Sheriff of Buffalo, during which he personally hung two murderers.
President Cleveland was famous in exercising his presidential veto powers frequently, and specifically on matters which dealt with removing gold as the standard currency.
21. Chester A. Arthur
The Dude President:
President Arthur is remembered as the most fashion-conscious president, and was called 'The Dude President' for his elegant sense of fashion.
He was also known as 'Walrus' mainly by kids because of his strange facial hair.
20. James A. Garfield
The Canal Boy:
President Garfield was nicknamed 'The Canal Boy' as he grew up working in the canals of Cleveland, Ohio.
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherfraud or His Fraudulency:
Both the names were given to him by The Democrats, as they felt that he used unfair means to win the 1876 presidential elections.
18. Ulysses S. Grant
Unconditional Surrender Grant:
A great military leader, Grant earned this popular nickname when he led the Union forces to victories at Fort Henry and Donelson in Tennessee, by saying 'No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender' to the military leaders of the Confederate States.
17. Andrew Johnson
Library of Congress P&P Division (Reproduction No: LC-DIG-cwpbh-03751)/Via Wikimedia Commons (PD)
After he resumed office, Johnson decided to veto all the Radical Republican congressional laws which were in place to ensure that the Southern States abolish slavery. Congress overrode his veto with enough votes, and finally impeached him.
The Tennessee Tailor:
Before entering politics, Johnson worked as a tailor for many years.
16. Abraham Lincoln
The Great Emancipator:
He was called 'The Great Emancipator' because he urged the Congress to abolish the practice of slavery by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.
Lincoln was a firm believer in honesty, and lived his life defending it. There are countless stories which highlight his qualities as a man of justice and truth, hence earning him the nickname 'Honest Abe'.
The name 'Rail Splitter' was chosen as a campaign slogan by Lincoln's supporters. It also highlighted the fact that Lincoln was the 'Common Man's Candidate', as he had handled several jobs like most Americans, that included being a rail splitter for some time.
Lincoln was affectionately called 'The Tycoon' by his aides and staff because of his heroic and uncompromising style as Head of the Union.
15. James Buchanan
This name was given to him by the Republicans in the campaign of 1856, after Buchanan said 10 cents a day was a decent pay for manual laborers.
This nickname originated from his last name because 'Buch' is pronounced as 'Buck', and 'Old' is often used as an affectionate term.
14. Franklin Pierce
Library of Congress P&P Division (Reproduction No: LC-DIG-cwpbh-02545)
Young Hickory of the Granite Hills:
Rumors say that this name was in reference to the amount of time spent by Pierce in the army during the Mexican-American War. Granite Hills is in his home state of New Hampshire.
He secured this nickname on the basis of his good looks.
13. Millard Fillmore
The American Louis Philippe:
Fillmore was called 'The American Louis Philippe' because of his elegant taste, and his love for reading and books.
12. Zachary Taylor
Old Rough and Ready:
This nickname of Zachary Taylor refers to his illustrious 40-year career in the military, starting from the War of 1812 to the Mexican-American War of 1848.
11. James K. Polk
Napoleon of the Stump:
He earned this nickname for being an exceptional and fearless orator.
Polk was a staunch supporter and friend of Andrew Jackson, and like him, opposed the Second Bank, favored the usage of gold and silver over paper money, and preferred agricultural interests over industries. This behavior brought him the nickname 'Young Hickory', an allusion to Jackson's nickname, 'Old Hickory'.
10. John Tyler
He was called 'His Accidency', as he was the first Vice-President to take over the president's job when William Henry Harrison died.
9. William Henry Harrison
The opposition allotted this nickname to Harrison, as he purposely avoided speaking on controversial issues during his election campaign.
Under his leadership, the American forces were able to defeat the hostile Native Americans in 1811 at the Battle of Tippecanoe. He won this nickname in celebration of this victory.
8. Martin Van Buren
The Little Magician:
His friends used to call him by this name because of his short stature, and his contemporaries used this name because they were jealous of his political acumen.
The Red Fox of Kinderhook:
Red was the color of Buren's hair, Fox because of his political skills, and Kinderhook was his birthplace in New York. Hence, the name The Red Fox of Kinderhook.
He was also known as The American Talleyrand
, The Careful Dutchman
, The Enchanter
, The Great Manager
, The Master Spirit
, Martin Van Ruin
, Matty Van
, and The Mistletoe Politician
7. Andrew Jackson
The Hero of New Orleans:
Due to his valiant and courageous efforts in the Battle of New Orleans (1815), the British forces retreated, earning Jackson the nickname of 'The Hero of New Orleans'.
His toughness in the battle also earned him another nickname. He was often referred as Old Hickory by the troops under his command, as he was 'tough as hickory'.
6. John Quincy Adams
Old Man Eloquent:
John Quincy Adams was a faithful Congress worker, and he served in the party for 17 years, earning the nickname 'Old Man Eloquent'.
Adams will always be remembered for constantly opposing the practice of slavery, and bringing up the issue regularly in front of Congress. People started calling him 'The Abolitionist', but the nickname gathered nationwide attention when he became the attorney for the Amistad case.
Publicola is the pen name of Adams through which he wrote 'Letters of Publicola', in response to Thomas Jefferson's approval of Thomas Paine's 'Rights of Man'.
5. James Monroe
The Era of Good Feelings President:
He came to be known as 'The Era of Good Feelings President' because it was during his term that the nation saw cooperation from all sides. This peaceful era is always associated with Monroe's presidency, and hence, the era and his name are often considered synonymous.
The Last Cocked Hat:
Monroe was last in line of the presidents that played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, and the founding of the United States. Some historians also believe that he earned this nickname because of his preference of fashion inspired from the 18th
4. James Madison
At just 5'4'', James Madison is the shortest person to serve as President, hence, earning him the title of Little Jemmy.
Father of the Constitution:
He is also known as the 'Father of the Constitution' as he played a significant role in the drafting of the United States Constitution, and also drafted the first 10 amendments - The Bill of Rights.
3. Thomas Jefferson
Sage of Monticello:
He inherited this nickname because of his informal way of greeting guests at the White House. Jefferson was known to greet important White House guests in a simple robe and slippers.
Man of the People:
Jefferson was addressed as 'Man of the People' on several occasions because he authored the Declaration of Independence which gave the American people their fundamental rights.
2. John Adams
Colossus of Independence:
John Adams was a highly educated man. After completing his education from Harvard, he started working as a teacher, and then became a lawyer who was known all over the country for his outspoken and honest nature. Thomas Jefferson called him 'Colossus of Independence', after he impressed Jefferson with his speeches and articles on improving American rights.
Old Sink or Swim:
He earned this nickname for the famous patriotic speech in which he vowed "To sink or swim; to live or die; survive or perish with my country".
Rumors say that this nickname was given to Adams in response to his suggestion in calling President Washington 'His Majesty'. There were many who were opposed to this suggestion, and after intense arguments, a South Carolina senator, Ralph Izard, suggested that the short and heavy Adams must call himself 'His Rotundity'.
Duke of Braintree:
There are two stories related to this claim. The first one states that Adams came to be known as 'Duke of Braintree', as this Massachusetts town was his birth place. The second rumor states because of his confrontation on addressing George Washington as 'His Majesty', one of his fellow workers started calling Adams as 'Duke of Braintree'.
1. George Washington
The American Cincinnatus:
According to legend, Cincinnatus was a humble Roman farmer who had been named dictator to defend his country from the enemies. He took up the supreme command, and defeated Rome's enemies, and then returned to farming. He refused to accept the honors that were awarded with the victories. George Washington is fondly remembered as 'The American Cincinnatus', as he too held the position of the Supreme Commander, until the defeat of the British. After that, he became a private citizen, and went back to cultivating fields.
The American Fabius
: Mr. Washington was also called 'The American Fabius' because of his Fabian military strategy (a war tactic used by Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus through the battle by obstructing and harassing the enemy, rather than going in for direct attack) during the Revolutionary War.
The Sage of Mount Vernon
After being the President twice, Washington grew tired and weary of politics, and retired to his home in Mt. Vernon to pursue his favorite hobby - agriculture. His humble nature and kindness earned him this nickname.
The Father of His Country
: This is the most popular nickname, and only suits George Washington because of his crucial role in fighting for, and creating the United States of America in its formation years.
So here they are, all the American presidents and their famous nicknames. Think I've missed out on a few popular nicknames, please mention them in the box, and I will feature it soon.