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Which states have produced the most U.S. presidents?

By Hannah S January 07, 2020 0 comments

Depending on how you calculate things, several different states can lay claim to producing the most commanders in chief. Going by birthplace, Virginia is the winner, with eight of its native sons holding the country’s highest office (including four of the first five presidents): George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson. However, Ohio also claims eight presidents with deep roots in the Buckeye State: William Henry Harrison, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Taft and Warren Harding. All of these men are Ohio natives except for William Henry Harrison, who was born in Berkeley Plantation, Virginia, in 1773. As an adult, Harrison moved to Ohio, where he served as a U.S. representative and U.S. senator from his adopted home state; he was living there when he won the presidency in 1840. (Harrison has the dubious distinction of being the first president to pass away in office; he succumbed to complications from pneumonia a month after his 1841 inauguration. Coincidentally, three other Ohio natives, Garfield, McKinley and Harding, also died in office.)

Using another calculation—which state a person was primarily affiliated with when elected president—Ohio can call six presidents its own (Benjamin Harrison and Ulysses Grant were residing in Indiana and Illinois, respectively, when elected), while New York also can claim six chief executives: Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Chester Arthur (born in Vermont but raised in New York), Grover Cleveland (born in New Jersey but later governor of New York), Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. Virginia can tally five presidents using this metric—William Henry Harrison was living in Ohio when elected, Taylor was raised in Kentucky but primarily associated with Louisiana when he won the presidency, and Wilson was governor of New Jersey when elected.

In contrast to these top breeding grounds for Oval Office occupants, a number of states have yet to send anyone to the White House. To date, only 21 states have been the birthplace of a commander in chief and just 18 states can lay claim to presidents based on primary state affiliation.

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