Presidents of the United States always make their mark on history, for better or worse! These leaders of the Free World become either footnotes or champions, depending on how things went.
Of course, it’s easy to forget that presidents are people too. And nowhere is this more apparent than in their final photos. Let’s check out the last known images of some notable names…
Ulysses S. Grant
Grant was president no. 18, serving from 1869-77. The former Union commander and Civil War hero worked on the Congressional Reconstruction, which addressed the issue of slavery.
This last image of him, keeping warm and doing paperwork (or maybe a crossword) is dated Jun 27, 1885.
McKinley became the 25th President (1897-1901). He met his end at the hands of gun-toting anarchist Leon Czolgosz at the Pan-American Exposition in New York on September 6th, 1901.
According to History, McKinley “rose slightly on his toes before collapsing forward, saying ‘be careful how you tell my wife.’”
His final photo shows him speaking passionately, shortly before the tragic murder happened.
He had two terms in office but a third attempt at power proved unsuccessful. This 1918 image is, perhaps, appropriate. Roosevelt cuts a lonely figure, with people passing him by in a blur!
William Howard Taft
Taft took over from Roosevelt. He became president in 1908 and served for one term. The generously-proportioned commander in chief died of poor health in 1930. This photo comes from the same year, just weeks prior to his death. He had lost a considerable amount of weight.
Who knows what that guy behind him is thinking!
Coolidge (1923-29) doesn’t have the biggest slice of kudos when it comes to the presidency.
Past Factory notes that he “was sub-par by most scholar’s accounts.” Though he nearly returned “because Republicans wanted to reject Herbert Hoover as their nominee.”
His last documented image has him rallying a crowd on October 11, 1932. He passed away the following year.
John F Kennedy
This next image needs little introduction. John F. Kennedy won the president’s job in 1961 but was dead two years later. At 43, he took the title of youngest POTUS via election.
Lee Harvey Oswald reportedly shot Kennedy, though the assassination is a source of ongoing controversy. The final photo was taken on that fateful day of November 22nd, 1963. The president had just been hit.
Nixon became president no. 37 in 1969. By 1974 he was out, mired in the notorious Watergate scandal.
The White House website writes that he “denied any personal involvement” in the scandal. However, “courts forced him to yield tape recordings which indicated that he had, in fact, tried to divert the investigation.”
He died on April 22nd, 1994. This final photo, with Nixon on the way out, was taken the same month.
Reagan famously went from Hollywood to Washington D.C. as the 40th president. He served from 1981 to 1989. He was known for being a proud Republican. His dealings with Russia’s then-leader Mikhail Gorbachev also drew attention.
He passed away from pneumonia and complications from Alzheimer’s in 2004. His last known picture is dated Feb 6th, 2000. It shows him with wife – and First Lady – Nancy.
This photo shows a president with another president. Gerald Ford occupied the West Wing between 1974 – 77. He’d previously been vice president.
Noted for his integrity by some, he also attracted criticism for pardoning Richard Nixon. He died in 2006. The image is from April that year. Holding his hand is the then-POTUS George W. Bush (43rd president, 2001 – 09).
George H. W. Bush
Our last presidential photo is the most intimate. George H.W. Bush took office in 1989 and served until ‘93. As the 41st president, he was in charge during the Gulf War.
Bush Sr. was VP to Ronald Reagan throughout the 1980s. The pair reportedly didn’t get along before working together in the Oval Office.
Vascular Parkinson’s disease resulted in his death in 2018. He was 94 and, at that time, the longest-living president. This family photo with son George dates from June, several months before his passing.