20 Snapshots Of U.S. Presidents Who Were Pretty Cute When They Were Kids

“Cute” isn’t a word usually associated with the office of the U.S. presidency. A good president, in all honesty, usually can’t afford to be cute. And yet, some of the most famous (or infamous) presidents in the world – men who once held the fate of the whole of America in their hands – actually were kind of adorable when they were younger. See if you can recognize these former heads of state from their rarely-seen baby pics.

20. Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton never entirely lost his boyhood cuteness, which you could argue actually proved to be his fatal flaw. But even before the sex scandal that’s still cemented in the public consciousness, a young Clinton was known as a bit of a ladies’ man. And despite being married to Hillary, he reportedly had numerous affairs that weren’t quite as well documented as his liaison with Monica Lewinsky. Nevertheless, Clinton still left office with a very good approval rating.

19. Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter was born in Georgia in 1924, when photography as we know it today was still in its infancy. He was a sweet little lover of dogs (the one in this photo is called Bozo) who grew up to be a peanut rancher turned Senator turned U.S. president. Critics are divided as to how effective he was as a leader, though, but most agree that he did a lot of good after he left office at least.

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18. Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford was actually named Leslie Lynch King Jr. at birth, but his name changed to Gerald Rudolff Ford Jr. after his mother fled his abusive father and remarried. And, cute as they were, Ford soon ditched the bowl cut and shorts for power suits, becoming president after Richard Nixon left office in 1974. And when he did so, he also ended up pardoning his scandalous predecessor in a move that wasn’t wholly popular with his public.

17. Franklin D. Roosevelt

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No, that’s not a girl – that’s a young Franklin D. Roosevelt pictured at just two and a half years of age. It’s not as odd as it seems though – back then, very young boys were expected to wear dresses! That little child in the frock is almost unrecognizable as Roosevelt, though, who is fondly remembered as the president who lead America through the trials of World War II and Pearl Harbor.

16. John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy’s life has been studied by thousands, and conspiracy theories about his death still run rampant. But one aspect of his life is often overlooked – the fact that young Kennedy was an absolutely adorable baby. And sure, it has no bearing whatsoever on his assassination or his actions as U.S. President, but it still needs to be said.

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15. Herbert Hoover

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Herbert Hoover looked like a serious little kid when this photo was taken in 1877 – or maybe that’s just because in those days, having a photograph taken was a serious business. It was, nevertheless, all good practice for later life, as Hoover grew to preside over some very serious periods in U.S. history.

14. Ronald Reagan

As a child, Ronald Reagan sported a “Dutch” haircut, leading him to acquire the boyhood nickname “Dutch.” Luckily, though, he’d ditched both the haircut and the name by the time he became an actor – and his good looks and charisma went on to win over the American public. Reagan ended up serving two terms as president and enjoyed great popularity.

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13. George H.W. Bush

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Seeing George H.W. Bush as a 92-year-old now, it’s hard to believe he was ever a cute little baby waddling about in mini boots and shorts. But in 1925, long before the fall of the Berlin Wall or the War on Drugs or any of the other things he was involved in, that’s exactly what he was.

12. George W. Bush

When George W. Bush, son of George H.W. Bush, was born, most people probably thought he was a lot like his father. And while there is a strong resemblance between the two in terms of looks, unlike his dad the younger Bush is widely considered to be one of the worst presidents of recent years.

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11. Calvin Coolidge

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Calvin Coolidge once wrote that America always wanted “a solemn ass” as president, and indeed as a kid he certainly looked pretty solemn. It was a portent of things to come, though, because over the years Coolidge gained a reputation for being a rather dour and quiet president, and even eventually earned himself the nickname “Silent Cal.”

10. Richard Nixon

Never has there been a U.S. President more infamous than Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon, but there was no sign of any future criminal behaviour in the face of his handsome 17-year-old self. Of course, if that sort of thing was visible, he probably wouldn’t have been elected in the first place…

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9. Harry S. Truman

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This wide-eyed little baby somehow already looks like he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders. And that weight increased a thousandfold for Harry S. Truman in later life: he was the president responsible for Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and navigating the U.S. through the early Cold War years.

8. William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft wasn’t considered remarkably smart as a kid, but his peers said he was a hard grafter who had integrity. Good qualities for a president, and ones that are reflected in his serious childhood photo, too. You’ve just got to wonder, though, how old he was when he decided to grow that magnificent mustache.

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7. William McKinley

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At the age of 15, William McKinley already looked like an enterprising young man. And as a president, he looked much the same, just older. He’s generally considered to have done a good job leading the U.S.A. to success in the Spanish–American War, but unfortunately his presidency was cut short by an assassin’s bullet in 1901.

6. Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson was a truly cute and happy baby, albeit one who wouldn’t sit still for his photo. (Just look at his blurry foot!) But he grew up into a president who was, by all accounts, rather harsh and aggressive. Johnson did, however, implement a few popular policies during his 1963-1969 term, too.

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5. James A. Garfield

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As a teenager, it seems James A. Garfield was quite a stylish and well-dressed young man. Although, granted, the limitations of photography back in that era do make him look slightly terrifying, too. But if you ever wondered what he might have looked like under that spectacular beard – which he kept for all 200 days of his short-lived, violently-ended presidency – there’s your answer.

4. Theodore Roosevelt

Little Theodore Roosevelt looked positively angelic as an 11-year-old. But good looks, as it turned out, wouldn’t be what he was known for. Instead, Roosevelt went down in history as possibly the most badass president of all time. Most impressively, he once delivered a speech for over an hour with an assassin’s bullet lodged in his chest!

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3. Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Pleasant-looking teenage Dwight D. Eisenhower, nicknamed Ike (as in his catchy campaign slogan, “I Like Ike”) began life in relative poverty before joining the military. And of course, he went on to become the 34th President of the United States. Under Eisenhower the country prospered economically, and for that reason he’s still considered one of the best ever presidents.

2. Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is famed for his facial hair, but he’s become so iconic that anyone would be easily able to identify him from a photograph even before he’d grown a single strand. And here’s a little piece of Lincoln trivia: the 16th President actually ended up growing his beard on the advice of a nine-year-old girl called Grace Bedell.

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1. Barack Obama

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This gap-toothed little boy in a plaid shirt would grow up to quite literally make history. Once Barack Obama became an adult (and had his adult teeth in place) he would begin his political career in the Illinois Senate. And then in 2009, he would of course become the first ever African-American elected to the White House.

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