The log cabin has long been a symbol of humble beginnings and hard work, especially during election season in the 19th century. William Harrison and the Whig Party used one during his presidential campaign in 1840 to distinguish Harrison as a man of the people.
Of the 45 people who have served as the president of the United States, seven were born in log cabins, carrying on the “rags to riches” success story that shaped American politics throughout the 1800s. Here are seven presidential cabins and where they are today!
The seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson, was born on March 15, 1767 in a small backwoods cabin in the colonial Carolinas. His parents were Scotch-Irish immigrants who’d arrived in America two years prior. Jackson became a celebrated general during the War of 1812 for his role in defeating the British in New Orleans.
While the original log cabin where Jackson was born did not survive the test of time, a simple log farmhouse was built on the site of his Tennessee farm, The Hermitage.
Zachary Taylor, the 12th president of the United States, was born in a log cabin at the Montebello plantation in Virginia. Only a historical marker remains at the site, but Taylor’s childhood home, named Springfield, can be found in Louisville, Kentucky. Taylor lived at Springfield as a child and stayed there until his own children were born. He continued to visit throughout his life.
Taylor was president from 1849 until his death in 1850 – serving only 16 months of his presidency.
Millard Fillmore became the president of the United States in July 1850, after the death of Zachary Taylor. Born in a small log cabin in upstate New York, Fillmore quickly rose from a simple farm boy to a successful lawyer at 23 years old.
The 15th president of the United States, James Buchanan, grew up in a small cabin in Pennsylvania. He remains the only US president elected from Pennsylvania, as well as the only one that never married. The log cabin where he spent his childhood is still standing in Mercersburg.
Buchanan’s turbulent presidency foreshadowed the American Civil War, but many senators and congressmen believed he chose to ignore the signs of an impending conflict – leaving behind a ticking time bomb for his successor, Abraham Lincoln.
Honest Abe was born in a humble log cabin on the rugged Kentucky frontier in 1809. Lincoln’s journey from the cabin to the White House was not an easy one. He struggled to get an education while growing up on a rural farm, especially after the death of his mother when he was just nine years old.
In an autobiographical essay, Lincoln described where he grew up, “It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up…. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher … but that was all.”
Sinking Springs Farm, on which the log cabin was situated, was purchased in 1905 by locals who wanted to preserve its rich history for generations to come. They built an impressive stone memorial, which can be visited today at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, Kentucky.
Ulysses S. Grant
On April 27, 1822 the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant. was born in a small wooden cottage near Georgetown, Ohio. It still stands along the Ohio River, not far from the tannery Grant’s father, Jesse, built in 1823. The site, which is now a state memorial, is open to the public.
Grant fought during the Mexican-American War under his future predecessor, Zachary Taylor, and made a name for himself during the American Civil War before entering politics. He was elected president in 1869, where he tackled remodeling the country after the conflict.
James Garfield was the 20th president of the United States, and served for just 200 days before he was assassinated. Born in 1831 in a simple log cabin in Ohio, making him the last “log cabin president,” Garfield grew up poverty-stricken and fatherless. He lived in the small cabin with his mother until he was 16 years old, which was relatively uncommon for the time. Today, the log cabin is located in Moreland Hills, Ohio.
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On July 2, 1881, Garfield was shot and mortally wounded by a former colleague, Charles Guiteau. Before his eventual death that September, Garfield was tended to by physicians desperate to save his life. Even Alexander Graham Bell, the famed inventor of the telephone, designed a special electrical device in an attempt to find the bullet.