Who was the first President photographed?
In 1849 pioneer cameraman Mathew Brady captures the first photograph of a sitting president, James Knox Polk, in his studio in lower Manhattan.
But his image is preceded by that of two former presidents shot later in their lives.
One is John Quincy Adams, President from 1825-29, then defeated for re-election by Andrew Jackson. Instead of retiring, however, JQA returns to the U.S. House in 1833 where he becomes the foremost spokesman for the abolition of slavery up to his death in 1848. He is first photographed in 1843 by Philip Haas, a German born daguerreotypist, at his studio in Washington, D.C.
The second ex-presidential photo is of Adams’ bete noir, Andrew Jackson, who serves from 1829-1837, extends suffrage to the common man, and founds the Democrat Party. Jackson is 78 years old and near death when he sits for Mathew Brady in 1845.
Amazingly, Jackson’s successor from 1837-41, Martin Van Buren, is never photographed until 1852 when Mathew Brady finally records his “phiz” on Boadway.