Who Was the President During Brown v. Board of Education?

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Who was the president during this important time in American history?

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Pre-Civil War Presidents

The Brown v. Board of Education decision was a watershed moment in American history, but who was the president during that time?

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) was an American soldier and statesman who served as the seventh president of the United States from 1829 to 1837. A polarizing figure who dominated American politics in the first half of the 19th century, he is known for his expansionist policies and his treatment of Native Americans. He was also a founder and leader of the Democratic Party. Born in the Waxhaws area near the border between North and South Carolina, Jackson received education from two tutors before moving to Tennessee in 1788. He gained prominence as a lawyer and Planter before being elected to Congress in 1796. As a general during the War of 1812, Jackson won critical acclaim for his victory in the Battle of New Orleans.

Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren (#8) was the President when Brown v. Board of Education was decided in 1954. He was a member of the Democratic Party and served as the eighth President of the United States from 1837 to 1841. Prior to that, he served as the eighth Vice President and tenth Secretary of State, both under President Andrew Jackson.

William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States, serving for just 31 days before his death in April 1841. He was the first President to die in office, and his death sparked a brief constitutional crisis as the country struggled to determine who should succeed him.

Harrison was a Whig Party loyalist who had served in a number of high-ranking government positions before being elected president. As President, he pursued an ambitious agenda but was forced to confront a number of challenges, including a sluggish economy and contentious relations with Native Americans.

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In May 1841, Harrison delivered a lengthy speech to Congress that lasted more than two hours. He became ill soon after and died just over a month later. His death ushered in a period of significant political change, as the Whig Party lost power in the ensuing election and was replaced by the Democratic Party.

Civil War Presidents

The Civil War presidents were a diverse group. Abraham Lincoln was the first, of course. He was followed by Andrew Johnson, who was sworn in after Lincoln’s assassination. Next was Ulysses S. Grant, the first president to be impeached. And the last Civil War president was Rutherford B. Hayes.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was in office from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He is best remembered as the president who led the country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, preserving the Union while ending slavery.

Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson was the President of the United States during the Brown v. Board of Education case. He was a Democrat from Tennessee who served as Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President and took office after Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. As President, Johnson opposed Radical Republican efforts to Reconstruction the South after the Civil War. He was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1868 but was acquitted by the Senate.

Post-Civil War Presidents

After the Civil War, the United States saw a number of different presidents come into office. One of the most notable presidents during this time was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was the president during the Brown v. Board of Education case.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States, serving from 1869 to 1877. As President, Grant was an effective civil rights leader who worked toprotect the rights of freed slaves and promote equality for all Americans. He also oversaw the completion of the transcontinental railroad, a major achievement of his Administration.

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Grant was born in Illinois in 1822 and grew up in a family of modest means. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1843. He served in the Mexican-American War and later married Julia Dent, a Missouri woman from a slave-holding family.

After the war, Grant resigned from the Army and struggled to find work. He eventually went into business with his father-in-law, but the business failed and Grant was left bankrupt. In 1860, he was working as a clerk in his brother’s leather store when Abraham Lincoln was elected President. When the Civil War began shortly thereafter, Grant volunteered to fight for the Union army.

Grant quickly rose through the ranks during the war, becoming one of the Union’s most celebrated generals. In 1865, he led Union forces to victory at the Battle of Appomattox Court House, effectively ending the war. After Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, Grant served as one of eight military governors charged with overseeing Reconstruction in the South.

In 1868, Grant was elected President on a platform of national unity and reform. As President, he worked to protect civil rights for all Americans and restore integrity to government after years of corruption during Reconstruction. He also oversaw completion of the transcontinental railroad, which greatly expanded trade and commerce across the country.

Although highly regarded by historians today, Grant’s Presidency was plagued by scandals involving members of his Cabinet and other close associates. These scandals damaged his reputation and led to his defeat in the 1880 election. After leaving office, Grant embarked on an around-the-world tour with his wife Julia; however, he became ill with cancer before completing the tour. He returned to America and died at age 63 in July 1885.

Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 19th president of the United States, serving from 1877 to 1881. He ran on a platform of civil service reform and won the election against Democrat Samuel Tilden with the help of a controversial decision by an electoral commission. As president, Hayes implemented various reforms and advanced civil rights, leading to improved conditions for African Americans. He also worked to improve relations with Native Americans. In 1879, he signed a peace treaty with one of the most important Native American tribes, the Sioux Nation, which ended years of conflict in the West.

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James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, was in office for only 200 days before he was assassinated by Charles Guiteau. He was, however, instrumental in the passing of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, which established the modern U.S. civil service. He also appointed Frederick Douglass as Marshal of the District of Columbia, making him the first African American to hold this position.

Presidents During Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark case in the United States that overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine. The case was decided during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Prior to Eisenhower, the presidents during the case were Harry S. Truman and Gerald Ford.

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman was the president of the United States during the Brown v. Board of Education case. He was in office from 1945 to 1953. The case was decided in 1954.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight David Eisenhower was the thirty-fourth President of the United States, serving from 1953 until 1961. A five-star general in the United States Army during World War II, Eisenhower had served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe, and achieved a reputation as a masterful leader and strategist. As president, he oversaw the cease-fire of the Korean War, kept up American pressure on the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and launched programs that resulted in the building of the Interstate Highway System and the launch of the Space Race. In 1957, he sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce integration at Central High School.


The President during Brown v. Board of Education was Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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