Who was the First President to be Photographed?

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So who was the first President of the United States to have a photo taken of them? Depending on who is answering the question, you may get a couple of different answers so in this article we will try to cover all of them!

Answer 1: John Quincy Adams

Photo of 6th US President John Quincy Adams
Photo of John Quincy Adams, March 1843.
Credit: Met Museum // Public Domain

John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States and son of 2nd President of the United States John Adams, is the first President ever to be photographed, and that image can be seen above. This image of John Quincy Adams is the earliest known photo of a US President to still exist and was taken in March 1843 when he was 75 years old and serving as a Representative of Massachusetts’s 8th congressional district, 14 years after the end of his presidency. It was taken in Washington, D.C. by the photographic firm Southworth & Hawes and given to his friend and fellow Representative, Horace Everett. Quincy Adams died on the 23rd of February 1848 at the age of 80, almost 5 years after this photo was taken.

If you would like to see this image colorized, be sure to check out our article Photographs of Every US President in Color.

Answer 2: William Henry Harrison

President William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison, 1840s.
Credit: Met Museum // Public Domain

It could also be argued that the 9th President of the United States William Henry Harrison was the first President to be photographed. While not the oldest President to be pictured, he was the first to have his photo taken while serving. William Henry Harrison had his photo taken on his inauguration day on March 4th, 1841. Unfortunately, the inauguration photo has been lost to history, and the image featured above is actually an 1850 daguerreotype of a realistic painting by Albert Gallatin Hoit. If the original photo still existed, it would beat John Quincy Adams’ by 2 years making it the earliest photo of a US President to exist.

You can also see a colorized version of this image in the article Photographs of Every US President in Color.

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