Before he was President: Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor, 1849-1850 solider
President Taylor was one of six Presidents born in a log cabin. Although educated, Zachary was a poor student. His handwriting,
spelling, and grammar were crude and unrefined throughout his life.
Even as a boy, he wanted a career in the military; for a planter's
son, it was a respectable alternative to law and the ministry.
Taylor received his first commission as an officer in 1808 and was
immediately assigned to command the garrison at Fort Pickering,
located in modern-day Memphis. From that moment until his election
as President, Taylor was in the military, stationed at a succession
of frontier outposts.
Millard Fillmore, 1850-1853
At the age of 14, Fillmore’s dad “apprenticed” him (it was
indentured servitude) to a cloth maker in New Hope, NY, more than
100 miles away from his hometown and his eight siblings. Fillmore
hated it so much it’s said that he walked the entire way home after
four months. He found a similar position much closer and worked
there for a few years until deciding to pursue a career in law.
Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857 speaker
of the house
While at Bowdoin College in Maine Pierce had honed his public
speaking, which made him a natural for the legal profession. IT was
also at Bowdoin that Pierce served as the captain of the student
military company (perhaps an early version of the Army ROTC). Right
after graduating from college Pierce received a job as postmaster in
his childhood hometown of Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Most likely
because of his excellent speaking skills, he was also elected
"moderator of town meetings" in New Hampshire.