Which U.S. Presidents Owned Slaves?

This website was inspired by an article in The American Scholar.  "The Anti-Jefferson," by Andrew Levy, introduced me to Robert Carter III, who freed more people than any other slaveowner in American history.  Levy expanded it into a book titled The First Liberator,  which I highly recommend.  You can find the details in the Bibliography.

 
So how many presidents owned slaves?

There are really two questions: 1.  How many presidents owned slaves during their lives?  2. How many presidents owned slaves while they were president? 

On this page I attempt to answer both questions. Click on the presidents' names in the column on the right to see what each man said and did about slavery. 


 

Of the first five presidents, four owned slaves.  All four of these owned slaves while they were president.


Of the next five presidents (#6-10), four owned slaves.  Only two of them owned slaves while they were president.


Of the next five presidents (#11-15), two owned slaves. Both of these two owned slaves while they were president.


Of the next three presidents (#16-18) two owned slaves. neither of them owned slaves while serving as president.


The last president to own slaves while in office was the twelfth president, Zachary Taylor (1849-1850).


The last president to own slaves at all was the eighteenth president, Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877).


So twelve of our presidents owned slaves and eight of them owned slaves while serving as president