14 Presidents That Were Frat Boys
Thomas Jefferson, Flat Hat Club (F.H.C. Society), College of William and Mary
The iconic Thomas Jefferson, who was one of our founding fathers, principle author of the Declaration of Independence, Vice President to John Adams and then the third President of the United States, was in the secret society at the College of William and Mary (located in Virginia) called the Flat Hat Club. This club was the precursor to the first Greek-letter fraternity, The Phi Kappa Beta Society. Their motto was "Fraternitas, Humanitas, et Cognitio" which is latin for “brotherhood, humanity and knowledge. They had a secret handshake and would meet regularly at the now famous Raleigh Tavern to discuss and socialize.
James A. Garfield, Delta Upsilon, Williams College
James A. Garfield was the 20th President of the United States, serving his term in 1881 until he was assassinated that same year. Garfield entered politics as a Republican and opposed the Confederacy’s succession. He served in the American Civil war as Major General of the Union Army. He fought in the battles of Middle Creek, Shiloh, and Chickamaunga. Little is remembered of Garfield’s presidency except for his death in office. He was considered a radical republican for his views regarding Reconstruction but his policies were moderate at best to enforce the civil rights for freed slaves.
Delta Upsilon is the sixth oldest Greek- letter fraternity being founded in 1834 at Williams College in the state of Massachusetts. It was established to be a non secret social fraternity.
Chester A. Arthur, Psi Upsilon, Union College
Chester A. Arthur was the 21st President, succeeding James A. Garfield after his assassination. He is known for re-building the U.S. Navy. Before his term he served as a quartermaster general in the New York Militia for the Union Army in the American Civil War.
Psi Upsilon was founded at Union College in 1833 and was the first fraternity to issue their own magazine in 1850. The action Hollywood director Michael Bay (Avatar) is also a Psi Upsilon alumni.
Benjamin Harrison, Phi Delta Theta, Miami University and Delta Chi, University of Michigan
Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States. He is the grandson of the 9th President, William Henry Harrison and the great grandson to one of the founding fathers Benjamin Harrison V. He was also an esteemed veteran of the American Civil War. During his presidency, Harrison is best known for creating the National Forrest reserves and modernizing the U.S. Navy.
William McKinley, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Mount Union College
William McKinley was the 25th President serving in 1897 until he was assassinated by a radical anarchist in his second term. He is known for keeping America on the gold standard (at the time) and leading an American victory in the Spanish-American War.
Theodore Roosevelt, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Alpha Delta Phi, Harvard University
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States. He took over after William McKinely’s assassination because he was his Vice President, becoming the youngest person to ever become president. Roosevelt ran again after his term was up and won. Before he was president Roosevelt was known for leading the infamous “Rough Riders”, a calvary unit in the Spanish American War. He was one of the leaders in the “Progressive Era” that sought to eliminate problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and government corruption. He was also a conservationist, establishing and expanding many National Parks, Forrests and monuments. Theodore Roosevelt is one of the presidents portrayed on Mt. Rushmore and is considered to be one of the five best presidents.
William Howard Taft, Psi Upsilon, Yale University
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States, serving only one term because Theodore Roosevelt ran against him as a third party candidate and split the republican vote allowing Woodrow Wilson to win in 1912. Taft also served as the tenth Chief Justice of the United States. He is the only American to have served in both offices. When Taft attended Yale he was also a member of the secret society “Skull and Bones.”
Woodrow Wilson, Phi Kappa Psi, University of Virginia
Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President after defeating William Taft in his re-election. He is known for his progressive policies, establishing the Federal Reserve and led the U.S. in a World War I victory. Woodrow Wilson created the League of Nations (precursor to the UN) at the Paris Peace Conference following the end of the great war. The League of Nations was an international organization to maintain world peace. Historians rank Woodrow Wilson as one of the best presidents.
Calvin Coolidge, Phi Gamma Delta, Amherst College
Calvin Coolidge was the 30th President of the United States from 1923-1930. He was elected Vice President in 1920 and took over as president when William G. Harding died of a sudden heart attack. Calvin Coolidge is best known for his small government conservatism. He hated high taxes and federal regulation of business and during his terms there was great economic prosperity happening known as the “Roaring Twenties”. He also signed an act granting U.S. citizenship to Native Americans living on reservations.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Alpha Delta Phi, Harvard University
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the longest running President of the U.S. from 1933 until he died in 1945. He won four terms. FDR is best known for his domestic economic legislation during the Great Depression called the New Deal. His third and fourth terms were during World War II. He worked with Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Chinese Five Star General Chiang Kai Shek to defeat Germany, Italy and Japan. He initiated the development of the first atomic bomb and after the war, with the help of the Allied powers laid the foundation for the UN. FDR became paralyzed in his late thirties and was a notorious chain smoker. Historians regard FDR as one of the top 3 presidents.
Gerald R. Ford, Delta Kappa Epsilon, University of Michigan
Gerald R. Ford served as the 38th President of the United States. He also served as the 40th Vice President before his presidency and is the only person to have served both offices without being officially elected to either of them. In 1973, President Richard Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after pleading guilty to tax evasion making Ford the new Vice President. Then one year later after the Watergate Scandal, Richard Nixon resigned making Gerard Ford president. He was in office for 895 days, the shortest in U.S. history where the president didn’t die.
Ronald Reagan, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Eureka College
Ronald Reagan was the 40th President. Before his terms he was a Hollywood actor, Union leader and 33rd Governor of California. Reagan is highly regarded for his economic policies known as “Reaganomics” (reducing taxes, cut government spending and federal deregulation). Reagan is also praised for his handling of the Cold War with the U.S.S.R. In 1981 a mentally ill man named John Hinckley Jr. who was obsessed with the actress Jodie Foster attempted to assassinate Reagan to impress her.
George H.W. Bush, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Yale University
George H.W. Bush was the 41st President of the United States of America. Before his presidency he served as the 43rd Vice President under Ronald Reagan. When he was 18 years old he joined the Navy and became the youngest Aviator at the time. After graduating from Yale he founded his own oil company and became a millionaire before he was 40. At 94 years old George H. W. Is the longest living president and vice president. He signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that included the U.S. Mexico, and Canada.
George W. Bush, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Yale University
George W. Bush served as the 43rd President from 2001-2009. He is the eldest son of George H.W. Bush, making them the only other father-son duo to assume the presidency after John Adams and John Quincy Adams. 9/11 occurred in Bush’s first year of office. He then launched the very controversial “War on Terror with the War in Afghanistan and then the Iraq War. Bush was one of the most popular and unpopular presidents in history, having a very high approval ratings after the 9/11 attacks and having very low approval ratings when he left office during the Great Recession of 2007.