Thinking and voting as our Founding Fathers once did.

The 4 US Presidents Who Were Independent:

The first US president and the first independent president was George Washington (1789–1797). Washington took office before any parties were developed, which means all nominees were independent at the time. Although groups and factions existed, he participated in debates but did not formally join any of them.

Four years later, the 12th US President Zachary Taylor (1849–1850), who was also the third independent US president, took office. As a military general, Taylor hated politics but was talked into running for president by the head of the Whig party and finally gave in. He gave it a shot and won. He gave up Whig ideals and went more on the independent side. Taylor died on July 9, 1850 from an unknown illness (he had a fever and similar symptoms as did a few cabinet members). Millard Fillmore, his vice president took over the rest of his presidency.

Fifteen years later the 17th president of the US was also our fourth independent US president Andrew Johnson (1865–1869) took office. Johnson was on Lincoln’s “National Union Party” ticket (the nickname that Republicans used in the 1864 election to attract members from other factions), but he was more of a Democrat. Once Lincoln died and Johnson took office, things shifted. Johnson, a free-thinker, began to include ideologies from both parties, so he considered himself an independent until later in his post-presidential political career.

Defining The Independent Majority

Did you know that there are more Independent Voters than members of both the Democratic and Republican parties? Did you know that being Independent is something from the colonial period, so it is not something 'new' which parties would like most to believe. Did you know that we already had four Independent presidents? Did you know that there are hundreds of politicians holding office in the past/present who are Independent?


These are questions we are going to answer on this site. We want to clarify history since the parties have done a great hatchet job of making it their own. Since 2008, Independents have grown tremendously. They are now THE group that will choose every president going forward since 2008. Milleneals are the highest age bracket for independents and the numbers have grown drastically nationally. A Gallop Poll (which is one of the most highly regarded) noted that 43% of Americans consider themselves to be Independent.


Even though there are so many Independents and although the definition is easy and quite clear, most people and the media do not seem to know who or what an independent is, so I will clarify. An independent candidate is someone who chooses to represent the people in a variety of ways that doesn’t fit a specific party’s values. They choose to represent the people and not get stuck with the party system and all the stagnation and headaches that come with it. The definition of an independent voter always seems to be misinterpreted, skewed, or simply unknown. An Independent Voter is:

  • Someone who chooses a candidate based on what he or she stands for and what his or her qualifications are instead of his or her party affiliation
  • A person who has ideals or values from two or more parties
  • A person who is a registered voter, but hasn’t chosen a party
  • An undecided or unregistered voter who doesn’t want to join a party


Despite this simple and obvious description, today there still seems to be some confusion about what an independent voter is simply because the parties don’t want people to vote that way, as they will lose members. In the end, they will lose power, so they go to great lengths to try to discredit independent voters as often as they can. Politicians and the media have also tried to confuse matters by falsely assuming that independents are voters who join alternative parties, such as the Green Party, which is not true since independent voters don’t join or affiliate themselves with parties, period. I will repeat this statement throughout this book just to make sure it is clear. This is why I don’t cover or define other smaller parties in this book; they simply aren’t relevant to my point and are essentially a mix of the Democratic and Republican parties with added ideals, so in my view, they are essentially independents anyhow.

Historians, scholars, the media, and politicians alike have always tried to figure out what independent voters truly believe in, what makes them tick, and how they figure out whom they want to choose as their candidate during an election. This is an impossible task, since one independent voter can vary from other independent voters. This is because the voter chooses candidates who best represent their needs and also the needs of the country as a whole based on a candidates’ intelligence, experience, beliefs, and ideas, not party affiliations.


INDEPENDENT POLITICIANS

Since the colonial period, there have been many politicians that held office as independents. These individuals have not only been presidents, but mayors, senators, representatives, and other small offices not covered here. These are people who chose to truly represent their constituents and not a party. Below are political officials who were elected as independents throughout US history:

US Senators

  • Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, served from 1989 to 2013
  • Angus King from Maine, took office in 2013
  • Bernie Sanders from Vermont, is well regarded in Congress and has been in office since as an independent since 2007
  • Jim Jeffords switched from Republican to independent in 2001 (served for Vermont from 1989 to 2007)
  • Robert C. Smith from New Hampshire, switched from Republican to independent in 1999 (served from 1990–2003)
  • Harry F. Byrd Jr. from Virginia, switched from Democrat to independent in 1970 (served 1965–1983)
  • Wayne Morse from Oregon, switched from Republican to independent in 1953 (served 1945–1959)
  • George W. Norris from Nebraska, switched from Republican to independent in 1936 (served 1913–1943)
  • David Davis from Illinois, served 1877–1883
  • There have also been almost two dozen senators who belonged to other smaller parties


House of Representatives

  • The governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, was elected as an independent, served 2011—present
  • The governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, has been a Republican, Independent and Democrat, served Florida from 2001–2011
  • The governor of Maine, Angus King, was elected as an independent and served 1995–2003
  • The governor of Alaska, Wally Hickel, was elected as an independent and served 1990–1994
  • The governor of Maine, James B. Longley was, elected as an independent and served 1975–1979
  • The governor of West Virginia, John J. Jacob, was elected as an independent and served 1871–1877
  • There are over a dozen more US representatives who served in other various parties


US Mayors

  • Sly James of Kansas City, Kansas, has served as an independent 2011—present
  • Shawna Girgis of Bedford, Indiana, an independent serving 2007—present
  • Fred Paris of Franklin, Indiana, was an independent from 2007–2011
  • Mark Funkhouser of Kansas City, Kansas, served as an independent 2007–2011
  • Jay Williams of Youngstown, Ohio, was an independent in his first term and served 2005–2011
  • Bernie Sanders of Burlington, Vermont, served as an independent major 1981–1989 (he later became a senator)


There are many other independent mayors throughout the United States who have and are still serving at all levels of local, state, and national levels, but they are too numerous to list.

Forty-four years later, the 10th US president John Tyler, who was also the second independent US president, took office. Tyler was originally President William Henry Harrison’s vice president, but when Harrison died after just a month or so into his presidency, Tyler took over the rest of Harrison’s presidency (1841–1845). Though Tyler was on Harrison’s ticket as a Whig, he never liked the Whigs, and after he became president, he found himself at odds with the congressional Whigs.