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What’s the oldest photo of a US president?

The snap was taken in 1843, but it doesn’t show the president at the time. BBC History Revealed magazine explains more…

A photograph of President John Quincy Adams
Published: June 17, 2021 at 5:07 pm
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William Henry Harrison had his snapshot taken during his brief stint as president number nine in 1841, but it didn’t survive. So it’s the sixth president, John Quincy Adams, who takes the accolade. He was in office from 1825–9, although the daguerreotype in question – taken by Germanborn Philip Haas, with a seated Adams looking very serious in his Massachusetts home – comes from 1843. At this time, the 76-year-old was still in politics as a congressman fighting against slavery. To add another name into the mix, the oldest surviving photo of a president in office is of James Polk, who served from 1845 to 1849.


This content first appeared in the August 2020 edition of BBC History Revealed


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