American presidents who served in the military

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Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) - Thomas Jefferson was a colonel in the Virginia militia at the start of the Revolutionary War, serving from 1770 to 1779.

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James Madison (1751–1836) - James Madison served in the Continental Army from 1775 to 1178, first as a captain, then major, and finally as lieutenant colonel.

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James Monroe (1758–1831) - In early 1776, James Monroe dropped out of college and joined the 3rd Virginia Regiment in the Continental Army.

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James K. Polk (1795–1849) - James K. Polk spent a year as colonel in the Tennessee militia in 1821.

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Franklin Pierce (1804–1869) - Franklin Pierce served in the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848, achieving the rank of brigadier general in 1847.

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Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) - Abraham Lincoln cut his military teeth serving as a captain in the Illinois militia during the Black Hawk War of 1832.

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Rutherford B. Hayes (1822–1893) - During the American Civil War, Rutherford B. Hayes served in the Union Army from 1861 to 1865, rising to the rank of major general.

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James Garfield (1831–1881) - James Garfield served in the American Civil War, entering the conflict in 1861 as a lieutenant colonel for the Union.

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Chester A. Arthur (1829–1886) - In 1861, Chester A. Arthur began his military career as an active member of the New York militia. 

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Benjamin Harrison (1833–1901) - Benjamin Harrison followed in his grandfather's footsteps by serving in the US Army during the Civil War. 

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William McKinley (1843–1901) - Another veteran of the American Civil War, William McKinley enlisted into the Union Army in 1861 and served until 1865.

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John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) - JFK graduated from Harvard University in 1940 before joining the US Naval Reserve the following year.

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Gerald Ford (1913–2006) - Gerald Ford was compelled to enlist in the US Naval Reserve after the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

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Jimmy Carter (1924–Present) - Jimmy Carter also entered the military during the Second World War, and continued a presidential trend of serving in the Navy. 

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Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) - He spent time in the military from 1942 to 1945, though severe near-sightedness prevented him from taking part in combat duties.

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George H. W. Bush (1924–2018) - On his 18th birthday immediately after graduating from Phillips Academy, George H. W. Bush enlisted in the US Navy as a naval aviator.

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