Talk:List of Presidents of the United States

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Former featured list List of Presidents of the United States is a former featured list. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page and why it was removed. If it has improved again to featured list standard, you may renominate the article to become a featured list.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
June 15, 2005 Featured list candidate Promoted
October 30, 2008 Featured list removal candidate Demoted
June 26, 2009 Featured list candidate Not promoted
Current status: Former featured list
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
This section is here to provide answers to some questions that have been previously discussed on this talk page.

Note: This FAQ is only here to let people know that these points have previously been addressed, not to prevent any further discussion of these issues.

Information.svg To view an explanation to the answer, click the [show] link to the right of the question.

Proposed formatting change[edit]

I would like to make a formatting change to the article. Another editor has asked me to see advice first. Please consider my proposed change here.—GoldRingChip 13:47, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

I actually thought it was a big improvement. --Coemgenus (talk) 14:00, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
It certainly wasn't a big improvement. I think the present format should stay. I think it looks far better than proposed change. As can be seen in proposed change, pictures are far too large and even years of birth and death are removed... Honestly, I see no reason why the present format should be changed. In the end, new formatting can't be implemented without consensus, and it will be interesting to see what other users have to say about this. --Sundostund (talk) 14:29, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
If you want consensus, that's fine— I won't argue now whether I was rightly or overly being bold as that's always a matter of opinion. I think we can get a consensus that we'll all be happy with. If I'd seen someone make such changes to an article I'd worked on, then I too would have reverted and asked for consensus. So I'm happy to work with everyone and I'll try to make everyone happy!
Having said that, what I should have done in talking about my proposal a few minutes ago, is outline all the changes I suggested. So let's see if I can do it here. Most of the changes are for simplicity, either for readers or for editors:
  1. Added "and year elected" in heading
  2. Merged the image and the name into once column.
  3. Increased image size
  4. Simplified the code for the image size
  5. Removed shading except in party names. People with vision issues and certain browsers don't work well that way. That's why it's discouraged in Wikipedia.
  6. Removed years born and died as not relevant to the list
  7. Combined "Took office" and "Left office" into one field, "Years"
  8. Overlapped VP's service in the two cases where VP served 2 POTUS's
  9. Linked directly to the article about lists of Senators from that state thereby simplifying the link
  10. Removed years served in previous office as not relevant to the list
  11. Removed VP's party shading. The party itself is only slightly relevant here, and the party wasn't actually included, just the shading
  12. Removed "<span>…</span>" when unnecessary
  13. Did I miss anything?
Your comments are appreciated!—GoldRingChip 14:43, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
Of course I want consensus, its a cornerstone of WP. There's no change which can be applied without it. Other users will have the chance to say their opinion on all of this, its the only way to solve this issue. Period. From my point of view, your proposed formatting is unacceptable - especially increasing image size, removing years of birth and death, merging the image and the name into once column, removing party shading from number column... Should I list more? You want to take this highly important list and remove from it elements which, in the years behind us, have become standard parts of all lists of officeholders on English WP. All of your proposals doesn't seem acceptable to me. I'll say again - the present format should stay, I see no reason for changes and for turning upside down this high-quality list. As I said my opinion both above and here, I don't plan to post further responses, I'll just watch this page to see what other users will say and what the final decision will be. Cheers! --Sundostund (talk) 15:37, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for your feedback! I can't see much explanation for your opposition other than the mere fact of your opposition. The one point I do see is that the elements "have become standard parts of all lists of officeholders on English WP." This is not the case with most lists of U.S. Congressmen. Otherwise, I don't know what the relevance of most of these elements are. Also, what about the color/shading issues? And the spans? And the combined years? I think the image size is a matter of opinion, but if there's a WP standard somewhere, then that's fine. Otherwise, we need to flesh out these discussions other than "your proposed formatting is unacceptable." —GoldRingChip 17:12, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
FYI, I'm talking about lists of presidents, prime ministers etc on English WP, not about lists of U.S. Congressmen... Anyway, I stated my opposition in the way I considered appropriate. I raised the issues which I consider highly problematic in your proposed formatting (both in the way of content and in the aesthetic/graphic way), and that's it. Nothing more, nothing less. My opinion is available for everyone to see it... As for "fleshing out these discussions", that will happen when other users start to post their comments on this thread. They'll do it in the way they consider appropriate, and then we'll have consensus on this issue. --Sundostund (talk) 17:35, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
It might have been nice to have a discussion regarding the removal of the engraved portraits (which provided significantly more detail than the cropped images that replaced them)...--Godot13 (talk) 19:36, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
That sounds interesting… engraved portraits- cool! I didn't change any of the images, only their sizes and locations. So I'm guessing the change to which you refer was made before my proposal.—GoldRingChip 20:11, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, that wasn't meant to be directed at you, just a general comment. Check out what was there (in a past version) about 2-3 weeks ago for the presidents pre-photo era...--Godot13 (talk) 01:45, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
Comments – First, no matter what happens, the date on the {{Use mdy dates}} template should not be changed from August 2011: the date of the "Use xxx dates" templates should never be changed from their original addition dates. Beyond that, I agree that the new table format is, in general, an improvement as, for example, it unifies the "party colors" in with the "Party" (label) column itself, which is definitely an improvement. However, I agree with the criticism that the birth year–death year dates shouldn't be removed from the "President" column, and that the new version of the presidential images is too large (the current table's version of the images is probably better). So, a qualified 'thumbs up' on the new format, which would be a more unqualified 'thumbs up' if these reservations are dealt with. --IJBall (talk) 03:17, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
Just a short comment (I said above that I don't plan to post further responses and that I'll just watch this page, and I meant it) – IJBall, I'm glad to see that you agree with me about years of birth and death and about images size... As for party colors, I don't necessarily oppose them being placed at the "Party" column, but why should we remove party shading from the "№" column? Maybe we can have both in the list? And a note to all users - please keep in mind that all changes which (if consensus is reached) we make here, must also be implemented at the List of Vice Presidents of the United States, for the sake of consistency. --Sundostund (talk) 13:29, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
Basically, the newer way is better because it eliminates the awkward "mini-column" that shows "party colors" with the V.P. too (that is unnecessary, as the only "mixed party" Pres-V.P. ticket happened in 1864, which can easily be 'Noted' instead (as it already is)...), and having the color associated with the party rather than the "No" makes that info more clear as well (I think having colors in both columns will probably look redundant...). And you are, of course, correct – whatever changes end up being made to this list table will also have to be made to the List of Vice Presidents of the United States table as well. --IJBall (talk) 17:08, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
Few additional questions - IJBall, what's your opinion about the proposed merging of the image and the name into once column? I really see no reason for that... Also, what you think about adding "and year elected" in heading (in "Term" column), and combining "Took office" and "Left office" into one field, "Years"? I can accept that stuff with some rewording - for instance, we can put "Election" instead of "and year elected", and "Term of office" would look better than just "Years"... It maybe looks like small stuff, but it can be important in the final version of the new format (if we decide to implement it). --Sundostund (talk) 21:26, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
Some of the changes in the new version might be more of a problem if this table was still "sortable". But as a currently non-sortable table, combining the pictures and names into one column probably isn't an important change – so I really could go either way on that particular change (i.e. I have no strong feelings either way). (I do agree with you that the birth year–death year info should be put back in that column...) Again, with non-sortability, combining the "Took office" and "Left office" columns into one column is also no big deal, though I think that column should be renamed from "Years" to "Years in office". I think your suggestion of "Term (election)" is also probably an improvement over the original "new" version of "Term (and year elected)"... So, I think we're getting somewhere. Let's see what @GoldRingChip: and others have to say... --IJBall (talk) 21:38, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for your responses, IJBall. I just wanted to raise some issues which I consider problematic in the proposed new format, and I think I did that... Anyway, we'll see what will happen once when "modified" new format is implemented (if that happens, of course). --Sundostund (talk) 22:24, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

@GoldRingChip: Thank you for being open to a discussion about your proposed edit. I want to address each specific proposal using your outline listed above. Also, I've invited User:Golbez and User:Bgwhite to participate in this discussion due to their familiarity with list articles such as this one and their experience with featured list proposals.

  • Added "and year elected" in heading
I support the suggested edit "Term (election)" by User:IJBall made on 21:38, 14 March 2015 instead of the proposed edit.
  • Merged the image and the name into once column.
I have never before seen this proposed edit. This would be a new element in the article. Visually, it only seems to remove one vertical line that separates the image from the adjoining text. I have a question. Can this edit be performed without changing anything else?
  • Increased image size
This point seems written in ambiguous terms. What explicitly was your aim?
The first meaning of "image size" could refer to the length and width (perimeters) of the frame that the image of President is displayed within. The perimeters with the proposed edit creates inconsistencies from image to image (see Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan).
The second meaning of "image size" could refer to the head shots or body of each President. The second meaning does not appear to be true. Although some head shots or body of Presidents were enlarged (see Andrew Johnson and Grover Cleveland), other head shots or body of numerous Presidents shrank (see John Tyler and Lyndon Johnson). The proposed edit also creates inconsistencies of placement of all head shots and body within their frames.
The Template:CSS image crop allowed for exact control over all three elements of each image. The template is a new element that was first added by me on 12 November 2013‎. The proposed edit is a reversion to older versions of this article. See any version of this article prior to 12 November 2013‎. Also, see proposed edit “Simplified the code for the image size.”
The Lists of heads of state or government within the "United States" subsection of Wikipedia:Featured lists has 26 articles. Of those, only eight have images within the list/table. All of those images are smaller than the current article, except List of Governors of Kentucky. That articles images are comparable to the List of Presidents of the United States article.
  • Simplified the code for the image size
The term “simplified” could mean complex code was replaced with simple code that produced an identical outcome. However, the outcome in the proposed edit was not an identical outcome. The proposed edit produced outcomes that led to irregular sized head shots, various placements of head shots, and different sized widths and lengths of the frame for each President.
The Template:CSS image crop allowed for exact control over all three elements of each image. The template is a new element that was first added by me on 12 November 2013‎. The proposed edit is a reversion to older versions of this article. See any version of this article prior to 12 November 2013‎. Also, see proposed edit “Increased image size.”
  • Removed shading except in party names. People with vision issues and certain browsers don't work well that way. That's why it's discouraged in Wikipedia.
I am not familiar with these claims. Please show links that support the claims about “vision issues,” “certain browsers,” and “discouraged in Wikipedia.”
The vertical colored bars were first added by User:Bgwhite on 12 August 2010‎. The proposed edit is a slight reversion to older versions of this article. See any version of this article prior to 12 August 2010‎. Also, the Lists of heads of state or government section of Wikipedia:Featured lists would support the use of the current shading (see “United States” subsection).
  • Removed years born and died as not relevant to the list
The Lists of heads of state or government section of Wikipedia:Featured lists would support the proposed edit. Only List of Governors of Ohio within the subsection “United States” has years born and died. They were added by me on 6 October 2013‎.
The years of birth and death were added by User:BartBassist on 15 May 2011. They are a new element added to the article.
  • Combined "Took office" and "Left office" into one field, "Years"
The Lists of heads of state or government section of Wikipedia:Featured lists would support the use of the "Took office" and "Left office" columns. They are standard elements in those articles.
  • Overlapped VP's service in the two cases where VP served 2 POTUS's
Specifically, you are referring to George Clinton during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Also, John C. Calhoun during the administrations of John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. This element is present in the current article. If I have misunderstood your proposed edit, then please correct me. If I understand you correctly, then this does not seem to be a change.
  • Linked directly to the article about lists of Senators from that state thereby simplifying the link
Is there an argument to keep as is?
  • Removed years served in previous office as not relevant to the list
The “years served in previous office” along with the office was started by User:The Theosophist on 6 November 2012. Everything in the entire column is a new element.
  • Removed VP's party shading. The party itself is only slightly relevant here, and the party wasn't actually included, just the shading
The Lists of heads of state or government section of Wikipedia:Featured lists would support the use of the "VP's party shading." They are standard elements in the “United States” subsection articles.
  • Removed "<span>…</span>" when unnecessary
This piece of code is used in the "Took office," "Left office," "Previous office," and "Vice President" columns. Why do you think this code is unnecessary?

One final thought. The article List of Presidents of the United States appears to be challenging the standard for comparable article lists (i.e., executive officeholders of governmental units). Until this article is submitted as a proposed feature article, a final conclusion may not be reachable on new elements without prior precedents to assist us. Mitchumch (talk) 02:19, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

Term column[edit]

The line between Terms 44 & 45 appears to be misplaced as President Johnson served part of President Kennedy's term.Docearly (talk) 03:33, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

It looks right to me(?). The 44th "term" started with Kennedy but ended with Johnson - thus the line should be within Johnson's row on the table. Hoof Hearted (talk) 19:12, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
I disagree with the choice of the year shown with each term number. It is obvious to me that the years shown are the years in which the electors for the presidential and vice-presidential elections were appointed, but I would not expect everybody to know that. Generally, I would expect any years shown with a term number to be the years of the term. Since single years rather than ranges are shown, I would expect those to be when the terms started, but that is true only for Term 1.
Also, it seems to me that the note in the heading of the column of term numbers would be far more appropriate in the heading of the column of presidency numbers.
Regarding the first comment in this section, I totally agree with Hoof Hearted. JFK served part of Term 44, and LBJ served part of Term 44 and all of Term 45.
HankW512 (talk) 15:14, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
To be sure, this is a dense table - there is a lot of information in a limited number of columns. I think that election articles should be linked somewhere in this table, and it seems to me that it makes sense to include it in the "term" column because each term had one election. It might be best if we specify that in the column headings, something like "Term (election)". If you are looking for the exact dates that the term started, you should look to the "Took office" and "Left office" columns for the specific dates. Two-term presidents are a little problematic, but I think it's best if this list sticks to the basics, and let the linked articles give more details.
I agree with your other point that the term note would be better placed on the presidency number heading. Hoof Hearted (talk) 13:07, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 5 May 2015[edit]

The table including a list of living presidents is missing Jimmy Carter (talk) 06:02, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: It's there. You may have some issue with your web browser. Cannolis (talk) 12:34, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
One possible reason that Carter's entry was overlooked may be because the list is in order by age rather than by presidency (I, too, would expect the latter).
HankW512 (talk) 14:40, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Well, the sentence immediately preceding that table states it is in order from oldest to youngest. The oldest president is generally the closest to death. Hoof Hearted (talk) 13:28, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

Some questions[edit]

Some questions from a Scandinavian contributer, couldn't find full answers in the article, so if possible, I would very much appriciate answers on the following questions.

  1. Two four year terms is the longest allowed time for an US President. Is this just a custom or a constitutional law ?
  2. If it's a law, howcome FD Roosevelt could be elected four times ? I know Second World War was going on 1939-45, but the United States wasn't involved in the war by the time of the 1940 election.
  3. Is two terms absolute ? Grover Cleveland won, lost and then won again - a total of two terms and 8 years. But could he have run for a second term during his second Presidency term ? Or - similar, could George W Bush or Bill Clinton run again ? I.o.w. is the eight years/two terms an absolute total or is two times in a row what matters ?
  4. Harry Truman and Lyndon B Johnson both took office after the death of their predecessor. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I'm correct both finished that term, won one election and then quitted. Could they have continued for a second election ?
  5. Is the President the leader of the US Government, in some other republics like France and Finland there are also rather "strong" presidents, but the government is led by a Prime Minister. Are the Vice President some kind of Prime Minister, or is he/she just "waiting" ? Answeres very much appriciated. Boeing720 (talk) 22:46, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
  1. The Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution is a constitutional law ratified in 1951. (This information is in the first paragraph of this article) Prior to 1951 it was a custom started by the first president, George Washington.
  2. The amendment did not pass congress until 1947, well after FDR's death. It was partly a reaction to his unprecedented number of terms.
  3. The amendment states "no person may be elected President more than twice, and no one who has served more than two years of a term to which someone else was elected may be elected more than once. (This information is in the first paragraph of this article) Bush and Clinton both won 2 elections, and therefore are no longer eligible to be president. Had the amendment been in place during Cleveland's presidencies, he would not be eligible for another term.
  4. Truman served more than 2 years of FDR's term plus his own 4-year term. However a clause in the amendment stated that it would not apply to the current president - thus Truman was eligible. He ultimately decided not to run again. Johnson was eligible for a second full term but declined.
  5. The President is the head of state and head of government for the United States (this is in the very first sentence of this article!). It could be said that the Vice President is "just waiting" to become President, but there are several duties with that title, including President of the Senate and presiding over Congress during the Electoral College vote tally, as well as a certain amount of policy influence. Hoof Hearted (talk) 18:56, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
A very detailed and appriciated answer, thanks very much indeed. If I understand it correctly, as of today's constitution and amendments, a President can only be elected ONCE - and re-elected for a second period. For Vice-Presidents who becomes President, the fist period "counts", if it's longer than 2 years. If shorter, there is a possibility for a former Vice-President to be President for almost 10 years, but not quite. There is no possible way to become President two times. The President selects all members of his/her government. The reason for this question was to compare with for instance the French fifth Republic. Although France is regarded to have "a strong President" after 1959, he/she isn't the chief of the government, the Prime Minister is. (So in that respect, the American President sooner resembles the French Président du Conseil during the 3rd and 4th Republics 1871-1940 and 1944-1959) I thank You once again for these concrete answers Boeing720 (talk) 02:17, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
Actually, it may be possible for someone to "become President" more than two times. If a 2-term President was later elected as Vice President, and the newly elected President immediately resigned it would not technically be a violation of the 22nd Amendment. However, its interaction with the 12th Amendment which states no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States seems to disallow this extremely unlikely situation from occurring. It has never been tested for the Supreme Court to rule on the matter. Hoof Hearted (talk) 14:50, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 12 June 2015[edit]

Please change the listed state of origin for U.S. Grant from Illinois to Ohio because Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, and spent his entire youth there. Thanks you. Hilesba (talk) 03:48, 12 June 2015 (UTC)

I'm not sure what the "state" column actually represents - Obama's is listed as Illinois when he was born in Hawaii, and Eisenhower's is both New York and Kansas when he was born in Texas Cannolis (talk) 04:04, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
Ihe list is the state where they were living when they were elected President - to quote from the Illinois article:-
"Three U.S. presidents have been elected while living in Illinois: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Barack Obama. Additionally, Ronald Reagan, whose political career was based in California, was the only US President born and raised in Illinois."
This all correlates with this table - but I agree it is confusing - the column needs a note to clarify this. - Arjayay (talk) 07:43, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
I strongly prefer leaving this information out of this table, and continue linking to List of Presidents of the United States by home state which goes into these details ("state of primary affiliation" and "place of birth"). Hoof Hearted (talk) 20:25, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 7 August 2015[edit]

I would like to request that in the living former presidents section that besides mentioning the most recent president to die, namely Gerald Ford, the section also make of note of the most recently serving president to die, namely Ronald Reagan. This is done in the articles of lists of state governors in their sections of living former office holders, so I see no reason why the same shouldn't be done here as well. 2601:241:300:36C8:21B:63FF:FEBC:D7EE (talk) 23:32, 7 August 2015 (UTC)

Red question icon with gradient background.svg Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. TrueCRaysball | #RaysUp 23:57, 7 August 2015 (UTC)

This is the requestor. It's not so much a change as it is an addition. I'm just requesting that in the section listing the living former presidents, since you already note the most recent president to die, that you also note the most recently serving president, if different, as such a thing is also done on various gubernatorial lists. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:241:300:36C8:4547:3CFA:7F11:782B (talk) 22:39, 8 August 2015 (UTC)


Any idea why it excludes Washington and Adams? --SchutteGod (not logged in) (talk) 19:52, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

Fix HerberT Hoover link in Timeline[edit]

The link in the timeline below the table to HerberT Hoover actually redirects to HERBER Hoover, with no t. This can be fixed pretty easily. Thanks! — Preceding unsigned comment added by DrBear86 (talkcontribs) 22:25, 16 September 2015 (UTC)

Herbert Hoover is from Iowa not California[edit]

Seriously, does nobody check this stuff? (talk) 19:52, 19 September 2015 (UTC)

The presence and absence of the "State" column has a history within this article. Please see archived discussions:
Any thoughts on the continued existence of the "State" column?
Secondly, I would recommend the inclusion of two templates.
First, Template:Hidden to stipulate the definition of contentious or confusing columns OR stipulate columns added without prior discussion on talk page will be promptly reverted.
Second, Template:Editnotice as a secondary measure to alert editors seeking to add columns that numerous attempts have been made or discussed in the past. They may wish to consult archived discussions to learn the arguments and outcomes of the discussions. Or, consult the Talk:List of Presidents of the United States/FAQ page. Specifically, "Q[uestion] 6: Please add another column to the list for ___________.," answer, and "Related Talk discussions."
Mitchumch (talk) 20:27, 19 September 2015 (UTC)
The archived discussions on this suck ballz. If you ask anyone who is even remotely aware of where a president is from, "What is Herbert Hoover's state?" They'll say "Iowa." Nobody, I mean NOBODY would say "California" unless they were a nitwit. With this kind of argumentative bullshit on Wikipedia, no wonder you don't even consider yourself a reliable source for your own articles. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:32, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
Correction - nobody would say "California" unless they were a nitwit or unless they were the Library of Congress, or just about every published source on the election of 1928. At the time of the election Hoover's legal residence was in Stanford, California. Would you say Obama's "state" is Hawaii rather than Illinois? Hoof Hearted (talk) 20:27, 8 October 2015 (UTC)

President Grant[edit]

Grant was born in Ohio, not Illinois — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:07, 30 September 2015 (UTC)

The column is (rather vaguely) labeled "State" and is meant to be "state of primary affiliation". While Grant's birth state was Ohio, his home prior to his election was in Galena, Illinois. The Library of Congress contains the official Senate record for the election, which states that Grant was elected from the state of Illinois, not Ohio. The official House record for the election, also preserved on the Library of Congress website, says the same thing.
I've asked before: can we please remove the state column to avoid this kind of confusion? (See the previous discussion also.) Let List of Presidents of the United States by home state serve as the location for this information, which makes the distinction between "state of primary affiliation" and "place of birth". Hoof Hearted (talk) 20:14, 8 October 2015 (UTC)
Hoof Hearted I support removing it. It has generated confusion and complaints. Hence, an unstable element within the article. I would also add other elements as stated in the above section. Mitchumch (talk) 20:54, 8 October 2015 (UTC)

Photos vs. paintings?[edit]

There seems to be an incipient edit war here, and what discussion there is appears to be taking place in edit summaries rather than here on the talk page.

Time (UTC) / Permalink / differences Pics/Editor Edit summary
23:10, 09 November 2015 (UTC)
Major overhaul of list table to new style. Using DNC and RNC official colors, and official color for Federalists (black). Official painted portraits used.
23:58, 10 November 2015 (UTC)
there had been a general consensus to use daguerreotypes and photographs as they portray the presidents more accurately
24:09, 10 November 2015 (UTC)
That consensus is for infobox portraits. This is a list of presidents, using painted portraits is uniform. Additionally, the old table format has text on color, visibility, and other issues. This is accessible and eliminates text on color
01:24, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
I would disagree and say it is not the standard to have paintings rather than actual photographs, if you look at other lists of officeholders, you will see this. Photographs, unless grainy and low-quality, are always preferable to paintings
01:39, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
Before reinstating your edit, please discuss all issues -- picture type and accessibility -- on the talk page
04:30, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
Changing the Paintings to Photographs
06:16, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
replace images with proper photographs) updated

@Spartan7W and Avrand6: -- Any chance of trying to conduct the discussion here? YBG (talk) 06:34, 11 November 2015 (UTC)


Here is a table with the pics from four recent versions of the page. The letters A/B/C/D show which versions use the same image (though sometimes presented at in a different size). Hope it helps the discussion. YBG (talk) 02:02, 12 November 2015 (UTC)


'Twas the plan. I give my full statement tomorrow.   Spartan7W §   06:47, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

I agree with Spartan and prefer the paintings. They place all the presidents on neutral ground.--William S. Saturn (talk) 07:25, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
With 20th- and 21st-century presidents, the photos are usually better at showing what they actually looked like, so I prefer them. --Coemgenus (talk) 11:23, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────A sitting or former president himself would tell you he is the "custodian" of the office, an office which serves and represents the American people. As I did with the various series boxes, I felt that a uniform standard best portrayed them in a neutral manner, and represented the office properly. In this list, we can prefer photographs over paintings, and that is well and good. However, this list shows the progression of the office, and the men who held it, from 1789 to the present. Now, compared to a painting or mosaic of a 5th-century Pope which probably bears little or even no resemblance to the actual person, these portraits were done by skilled artists, and if you compare them to photographs, look impressively life-like and similar (in fact, probably the examples of least likeness are the copyright-protected of Ford and Reagan).

If you go to the White House, you'll see these very portraits hung on its walls, no photographs are there. From a practical standpoint, each biographical article has a photograph, where available, and that is the way it should be. This provides us some flexibility in what we do here, as the reader can click on the large name of the president and see their pictures. One advantage the paintings have is that they are all in high quality color, and it gives uniformity and aesthetic quality, which is a valid consideration. Especially for early presidents, like JQA, Jackson, Van Buren, and Tyler, the photographs do not show them as they were in office, they are much older, nearer the end of their lives. By using paintings, we have a single standard: high quality, very attractive, all-color, historically significant, and representative of the office. No progression of photographic technology, between daguerreotype and photographs (and photo quality), between black and white and color, between film and digital (and restoration in between). No bizarre firmament between the glowing portraits of the founding fathers, and a schism between vibrant Monroe and old black-and-white Adams. To keep consistency, uniformity, historical significance, progression of the office, and aesthetic considerations, we should do this. If we did not have bios of the presidents, if this were all we had, then photographs would be warranted, but the fact we do, and that is already done, provides the opportunity to display the office and its officers in a very representative, historical, aesthetic, and uniform way.   Spartan7W §   15:41, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

I wasn't sure what criteria to base my preference/opinion on, but Spartan's concern about showing the progression of officeholders rather than the progression of technology has settled it for me. IMHO, this requires us to avoid all of the early photographs. But copyright and availability restricts us from using portraits for Ford, Reagan, and Obama. It seems to me we have two possible choices:
  1. Use portraits until decent color photographs are available, then consistently use photographs
  2. Use portraits until copyright restrictions impede (Ford), then consistently use photographs
  3. Use portraits always except when copyright/availability impede (Ford, Reagan, Obama)
  4. Use portraits then switch to photographs at a point where the transition is least noticeable (which might be close to or the same as #1 or #2)
Overall, I prefer option 4 for aesthetics, but the other options have the advantage of using more objective standards. I base my thoughts on thinking about it while looking at the plain text I am editing here on the talk page, so I would cheerfully bow to others' opinions based actually looking at the pictures. I think we can agree that the criterion ought to be selecting an option that draws the least attention to the changes and transitions between portrait technologies. YBG (talk) 18:54, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
Keep in mind that from about 2007 to 2013 the official paintings were used to maintain consistency and neutrality among the presidents.--William S. Saturn (talk) 19:05, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
Basically, Ford and Reagan are unavailable due to copyright. Obama is the sitting president, and thus has no official painted portrait. Bush 43's wasn't unveiled until 3 years out of office. Plus, if you look at the portraits of color-era presidents, the painting is pretty close to the picture, with regard to accuracy and resemblance. In fact, FDR aged so much that his 1933 first photograph looks nothing like he did by the war or by the end of his life.   Spartan7W §   19:54, 11 November 2015 (UTC)


This section is about the relationship between this list and other lists YBG (talk) 18:24, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

Hello everyone. Firstly, I must say that I have no desire to jump into the ongoing discussion, so I won't comment the issues raised above. Secondly, I have even less desire to enter into an edit war (and I hope you guys will be able to avoid it too). I truly hope that you will manage to find a solution here. I just want to remind all of you about a very important issue. There is an article, closely related to this one - List of Vice Presidents of the United States. All of you should have in mind that any (major) overhaul of this article would require the same overhaul on the list of vice presidents, for the sake of consistency. These two articles should be as much similar as possible, both in terms of data and their visual appearance. So, if you guys decide to keep the current version of this article, there must be some major work on the list of vice presidents. Cheers! --Sundostund (talk) 17:22, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

I am at Nelson Rockefeller in my sandbox, I will be done with the overhaul by this evening, PST.   Spartan7W §   17:25, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
I am glad to hear that, Spartan. Our thinking is on the same line - keeping these two articles as much similar as possible. --Sundostund (talk) 17:28, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
My list of Speakers is also to this format, but some editor objects to a separate page so that's a different talk page issue.   Spartan7W §   17:32, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

Discussion continued[edit]

I believe that the list should be photographs at least starting at Van Buren, since the Photos do show JQ Adams and Jackson later in life. I am Strongly against using Paintings for anyone After Jackson, since with Van Buren starts the good quality photographs. Photogrtaphs show people more accuratley what the faces of the people looked like, While, If you look at Nixons Official Painting for example, It is at best a mediocre representation of him. Kennedy's portrait doesn't even show his face, it shows him looking down, away from the viewer. While this may be a statement artistically about "not wanting to paint the eyes of a dead man", It is very unhelpful to the viewer. Hoover's portrait shows him as an old man, much later than he was ever in office. William Harrisons portrait looks horrible, as does Jacksons, and John Adams portrait makes him look sunburned, and George Bush Sr looks tan. Paintings have more, not less flaws with representing the person they potray. We have invented this great technology that captures images, so why use older, more inferior images? As such, I am opposed to changing to paintings as they are less accurate, can be misleading, and sometimes look little like the person in the portrait, as well as possible bias by the artist. A transition to paintings would be a sad step backwards. AvRand (talk) 23:28, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

So you're basing your view on your own artistic judgment of the official portraits? That's simply your opinion and makes absolutely no difference. --William S. Saturn (talk) 00:20, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

No, I'm basing it on the fact that photographs are more accurate then paintings and better show what the presidents looked like. AvRand (talk) 02:08, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

Have you actually compared the two? And how would you know what Adams was supposed to look like? Maybe he was sunburned or of reddish complexion. I'm sure John Trumbull, one of the most important painters of historical genre in U.S. History, knows what he's doing. Harrison's portrait looks quite like the 1 daguerreotype in existence. For Bush 41, that's called lighting, for Nixon, you're calling that mediocre? For Jackson, how do you know what he looked like in 1829? Surely more youthful than the raisin from the 1840s.   Spartan7W §   05:57, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
The photograph of Jackson was taken just a few months before he died. It is not representative of what he looked like when he was in office.--William S. Saturn (talk) 06:22, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

@Spartan7W and Avrand6: I thought the reason for having a discussion was to try to stop editing and reverting before a discussion has run its course. Now I know that sometimes a picture is worth 1,000 words and so showing is better than telling. When I've been in that position, I've gone ahead and done the edit, immediately self-reverted, and then placed a permalink on the talk page so that others could weigh in on whether my edit was an improvement or not. But at the very least, if you insist on making an edit that is bound to be controversial, make a mention of it on this talk page along with your reasons. YBG (talk) 08:34, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

John Tyler Party Color[edit]

Shouldn't the Party Color strip for John Tyler be split in two, with the top half remaining the Whig Color, but the Bottom half being the independent White Color? AvRand (talk) 04:38, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

I can't find any resource of presidents which definitively says that Tyler was an independent. He broke with the Whigs on issues, but was a Whig when he ascended to office, and at that time, independents weren't commonplace.   Spartan7W §   05:49, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

Well It says that he's independent in the party column, so Either that should be changed or the party color should be changed so that they match. AvRand (talk) 05:56, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 18 November 2015[edit]

Please change Herbert Hoover's state from California to Iowa. He was born in West Branch, IA and was the only President to come out of Iowa. (talk) 02:28, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: The "state" column actually refers to "home state", or the state that president is most associated with, not the state they were born in. Note that Obama's state is listed as Illinois. Cannolis (talk) 20:29, 18 November 2015 (UTC)
Just a note for the record. State is for home state, which is distinct from birth state. And home is defined by voter registration. This is why Nixon is listed both for New York and California, as he was a resident of NY in '68 but of CA in '72. Same with Eisenhower.   Spartan7W §   14:28, 19 November 2015 (UTC)