Poems by Presidents: The First-Ever Anthology

Edited by Michael Croland

Dover Publications, December 2023

“From Madison’s collegiate satires to Harding’s racy romantic rhymes, this anthology has something to surprise and delight even the most dedicated history buff. It will teach you something about our presidents’ personal lives, their poetic talents, and even their political ambitions.” —Craig Fehrman, author of Author in Chief

Well-written, thoroughly researched, and impeccably organized, Poems by Presidents explores an intriguing and unexpected side to many American presidents: they wrote poetry!” —Susan Katz, author of The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub

This first-ever anthology features poems by eleven presidents who, through good times and bad, turned to poetry to express themselves. This compelling collection brings presidents’ literary pursuits to light, unveiling their deepest thoughts and emotions. Highlights include George Washington’s teenage romantic yearnings, Thomas Jefferson’s death-bed adieu, John Quincy Adams’s sonnet memorializing his father, Abraham Lincoln’s mockery of the Confederacy, Woodrow Wilson’s humorous limericks, Warren G. Harding’s steamy love poems to his mistress, and Ronald Wilson Reagan’s existential reflections. Appendixes explore additional presidents who wrote poetry, misattributions, prose formatted as verse, and fondness for poetry. Poems by Presidents is a rewarding resource for poetry lovers and readers interested in presidential biographies and American history.

Well researched . . . Poems by Presidents is a wonderful book for every POTUS-lover’s shelf. Buy it. You’ll have an enjoyable read!
—Feather Schwartz Foster, Presidential History Blog

“This distinctive collection is a pleasure to read and enjoy. It provides another dimension to our awareness of the personalities and talents of many of our presidents.” —Fred Kaplan, author of His Masterly Pen: A Biography of Jefferson the Writer

“With Poems by Presidents, Michael Croland has assembled an interesting and unexpected anthology of presidential poetry. Witness George Washington’s teenage heartache, or blush at Warren Harding’s rhyming adultery. Poems by Presidents leaves the reader with a better understanding of the concealed humanity often buried within the seemingly stoic men who have held our nation’s highest office.” —Michael B. Costanzo, author of Author in Chief

“Chief executive, commander-in-chief, head of state—and poet? Yes, indeed! This unique collection by US presidents, featuring poems ranging from spiritual to humorous to erotic, is surprising, fascinating, and humanizing. There is always something new to learn about these gentlemen—and this book proves it.” —Marilyn Singer, author of Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems about Our Presidents

“A wonderful volume, full of keen insights into a wide array of American presidents. . . . The superb focus of this book brings fascinating details to light.” —Jonathan Gross, editor of Thomas Jefferson’s Scrapbooks

“Author Michael Croland has captured the essence of a unique piece of Americana: the poetic verse of America’s presidents. Readers can gain a unique insight into the inner thoughts and feelings of our leaders, providing those who are interested or curious some additional understanding of their personalities.” —Jeffrey A. Margolis, author of The President’s Pen

Michael Croland is the editor of There Once Was a Limerick Anthology and Acrostic Poetry: The First-Ever Anthology. He is the author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, Punk Rock Hora: Adventures in Jew-Punk Land, Air to the Throne: A Poetry Chapbook about Air Guitar, and Celtic Punk Superfan: Recaps & Reflections Chapbook, 2002–22.

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George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
John Quincy Adams
John Tyler
Abraham Lincoln
Ulysses S. Grant
James Abram Garfield
Woodrow Wilson
Warren G. Harding
Ronald Wilson Reagan

Appendix A: Four Additional Presidents Who Wrote Poetry
Appendix B: Misattributions
Appendix C: Prose Formatted as Verse
Appendix D: Fondness for Poetry

Selected Bibliography

Check out the bonus materials webpage for Poems by Presidents, featuring additional materials for six presidents: John Quincy Adams, John Tyler, Abraham Lincoln, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Wilson Reagan, and Barack Obama. One poem by Adams is included. Links provide access to two complete poetry books, a musical score featuring the text of a poem, video and audio clips of poems’ recitations, and nine additional poems.