As U.S. President Barack Obama campaigns for a second term, we look back at the U.S.'s famous one-term presidents - a class Mr. Obama is desperately hoping not to join
U.S. president John Adams.
John Adams, 1797-1801
Before he was president: One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and its first vice-president (under George Washington, a role he's said to have strongly disliked). He was a respected philosopher and diplomat during the Revolutionary War.
What he's known for: Avoiding war with France, at the expense of his political career. While many Americans were hungry for all-out war after a naval conflict with France in the Caribbean, Adams's diplomacy avoided a conflict the young nation could hardly afford.
Why he only had one term: Through a quirk of the early election rules, John Adams's 1796 presidential opponent, Thomas Jefferson, became his vice-president. The two did not work well together. In 1800, they ran against each other again, and Jefferson came up the victor.
U.S. President John Quincy Adams.
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829
Before he was president: Massachusetts senator, diplomat to European countries and secretary of state under James Monroe.
What he's known for: Like father, like son. The United States’ first father-and-son presidents were also its first one-termers. John Quincy Adams's otherwise impressive political career was, oddly, at its least impressive when he was president. Though he came second in the 1824 election, he became president through deal making with another unsuccessful candidate. Supporters of Andrew Jackson, who came first, did everything they could to hold back a term they saw as corrupt and illegitimate.
Why he only had one term: The very popular – and populist – Jackson resoundingly beat Adams in their rematch. Adams went on to an illustrious second stint as a congressman and opponent of slavery.
U.S. president Martin Van Buren.
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren, 1837-1841
Before he was president: Popular New York politician who served as attorney-general, governor and U.S. senator, then a stalwart in president Andrew Jackson's cabinet as secretary of state and vice-president.
What he's known for: Overseeing – and possibly deepening – one of the worst economic depressions to that point. Bank failures, a cyclical recession and national banking policy changes became too much for Van Buren and Congress.
Why he only had one term: Like many presidents, he was brought down by wider economic turmoil. He was resoundingly defeated in his re-election bid, and was unsuccessful again eight years later when he ran under the banner of a fringe party.
U.S. president James Polk.
James Polk, 1845-1849
Before he was president: Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 1830s and governor of Tennessee. The surprise candidate for president after a highly contentious Democratic convention in 1844.
What he's known for: Making four major campaign promises and sticking to them, including the peaceful negotiation with Britain over land on the West Coast. This lead to the Oregon Treaty of 1846 and the 49th-parallel border between present-day Canada and the U.S.
Why he only had one term: Choice. While running for president, he said he only wanted one term. He kept his promise and declined to run for re-election. He died of natural causes just a few months after leaving office.
U.S. president Franklin Pierce.
Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857
Before he was president: A popular New Hampshire politician in his twenties and thirties, he had been out of office for years before being picked as a compromise candidate by divided Democrats.
What he's known for: Weak leadership and reigniting the North/South debate over slavery, which eventually led to the Civil War.
Why he only had one term: Deeply unpopular by the end of his term, the Democrats abandoned him and wouldn't even re-nominate him as the party's presidential candidate in 1856.
U.S. president James Buchanan.
James Buchanan, 1857-1861
Before he was president: Pennsylvanian politician, secretary of state under James Polk and minister to Britain under Franklin Pierce.
What he's known for: Fairly or not, his legacy is seen as leading the United States into civil war over the issue of slavery. His appeals to constitutional law and attempts to make peace between fierce partisans only further enraged differences, ultimately leading to the secession of South Carolina.
Why he only had one term: The Democratic party split into opposing north and south factions, each nominating their own candidate and splitting the vote – handing the Republicans' Abraham Lincoln the victory.
U.S. president Rutherford B. Hayes.
Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877-1881
Before he was president: Civil War officer and governor of Ohio.
What he's known for: Bush v. Gore is nothing compared to Hayes's disputed election. Hayes lost the popular vote, but won the electoral college by a hair after a commission that dragged on for months. He promptly made goodwill gestures to the south, such as ending post-civil-war reconstruction and occupation.
Why he only had one term: Choice. He said he only wanted one term, and he retired to his home in Ohio after serving.
U.S. president Benjamin Harrison.
Benjamin Harrison, 1889-1893
Before he was president: Civil War officer, Indiana lawyer and U.S. senator. Grandson of former president William Henry Harrison.
What he's known for: Harrison found success abroad – establishing what would become the Pan American Union and staging a coup in Hawaii – but trouble at home. Spending went up under his administration and he grew to have problems with farmers and labour.
Why he only had one term: Harrison lost the popular vote, but still got into office with more electoral college votes. He lost by both measures in his rematch with Grover Cleveland four years later.
U.S. president William Howard Taft.
William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft, 1909-1913
Before he was president: Federal judge, administrator and secretary of war under president Theodore Roosevelt.
What he's known for: Upheld protectionist measures, such as high tariff rates, and he launched many antitrust prosecutions.
Why he only had one term: The progressive and conservative wings of the Republicans split, with Taft representing the latter and Roosevelt returning to contest the 1912 election. They split the vote, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won a plurality.
U.S. president Herbert Hoover.
Herbert Hoover, 1929-1933
Before he was president: An engineer, champion of foreign aid and secretary of commerce under presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.
What he's known for: The Great Depression. Despite interventions and new policies, Hoover could not stop deep damage to the economy and employment.
Why he only had one term: Charismatic New York governor Franklin D. Roosevelt rode a wave of populist anger to defeat Hoover’s re-election bid.
U.S. president Jimmy Carter.
Jimmy Carter, 1977-1981
Before he was president: Governor of Georgia, former naval officer and farmer.
What he's known for: Elected as an outsider to clean up Watergate-stained Washington, Carter was quickly troubled with economic stagnation, unemployment and inflation.
Why he only had one term: As Carter’s popularity dived, he faced a strong challenger, Ted Kennedy, for his party's presidential nomination. Though Carter prevailed, he was in a weak position in the general election against Ronald Reagan.
U.S. president George H. W. Bush.
George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush, 1989-1993
Before he was president: Congressman, CIA director and vice-president under Ronald Reagan.
What he's known for: Foreign affairs dominated Bush’s term, including the Panama invasion, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
Why he only had one term: Bush’s popularity spiked in 1991 after Operation Desert Storm, but the economy – as well as vote-splitting challengers from the right – brought his support back down by the 1992 election.