If fidelity to freedom and democracy is the code of our civic religion then surely, the code of our humanity is faithful service to that unwritten commandment that says "We shall give our children better than we ourselves had."
—Josiah Bartlett at the Nashua VFW Hall, 1997[src]

President Josiah Edward "Jed" Bartlet, Ph.D., D.H.L. (Hon.), was President of the United States from 1999 to 2007. He was a popular politician, having never lost an election, and winning a second term as President in a landslide. His career in politics spanned 36 years, starting in 1971 and ending in 2007. Sometime in 1991, Bartlet had been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis (MS). He kept this condition concealed, even during his first presidential campaign, for almost a decade and only a handful of other people knew. But in 2001, during his election to run for a second presidential term, he finally came out with it and told the entire world.


Josiah Edward Bartlet, known to people close to him as "Jed," was born in the early 1940s in New Hampshire, the elder of two sons. His great-great-great-great grandfather was Dr. Josiah Bartlett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. [2] While his father was a Protestant, his mother was a devout Roman Catholic. Jed was brought up in the Catholic faith and remained Catholic for the rest of his life. As a child, his brother, Jon, locked him in a steamer trunk. He claimed there were actually steamers in the trunk and young Jed remembered being surrounded by seafood.[3]

Education Edit

Every morning, Jed walked to his school from his house a short distance away with a fresh hanky in his pocket, and a spring in his step.[4] His father was the headmaster of a prestigious preparatory school. Dr. Bartlet used his position as headmaster to allow his son to enter the school.[5]While attending school in 1960, Bartlet got in trouble with his father for a stunt he pulled on Professor Loomis, the professor of literature at the school. Bartlet and a group of friends wrote an article condemning Loomis for banning books such as "Fahrenheit 451," and works by D.H. Lawrence and Henry Miller. This was one of the many times Bartlet received a slap from his father.[6] Their relationship would always be strained (or as Jed later categorized it, "complicated").

Bartlet received a 1590 (ten points shy of a perfect 1600) on his SATs. After retaking the test, he again received a 1590.[7]Many people, including Leo and Stanley Keyworth, thought that it was strange that he took the test again after receiving a near-perfect score. After high school, Bartlet was accepted to Harvard University, Yale University, Williams College, and the University of Notre Dame. He decided on Notre Dame because he was considering entering the clergy.[8] According to Abbey, Bartlet speaks four languages (presumably including Latin and German); none of them, however, is French[9].

University of Notre Dame Edit

Bartlet did his undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame[10]. Bartlet's consideration about becoming a priest ended when he met his future wife, Abigail, and changed his studies[11]. Notre Dame, however, would have been an all-men's school at the time, thus it is likely Abigail attended Saint Mary's College, the sister institution across the street. Bartlet might have attempted to play baseball for Notre Dame, but would be noted by Toby Ziegler and Charlie Young years later as being a bad pitcher.[12]("Memorial Day") Bartlet "hated America's Pastime." ("Memorial Day") Bartlet graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame with a degree in American Studies. He minored in theology.[13]

London School of Economics Edit

After Notre Dame, Bartlet was accepted into the prestigious London School of Economics. [14] When he was 26 years old, he wrote a paper supporting the deregulation of Far East trade barriers. This created an uproar in his school and he was "nearly thrown out."[15]Regardless of this paper, Bartlet would go on to receive an MSc and eventually a doctorate from the school.[16]

Economics CareerEdit

Bartlet became a tenured economics professor[17] at Dartmouth University, which was another major goal in his life[18]. While at Dartmouth, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters[19]. As a professor and researcher, Bartlet became world famous, eventually winning the Nobel Prize in Economics.[20] He actually "tied" with another economist from Japan for that year, a point that always annoyed him. He also wrote the book Theory and Design of Macroeconomics in Developing Nations (which judging from Toby Ziegler's reaction to the President's less-than-serious suggestion he talks about the book on live television, it was not a major page-turner).[21]

It is likely he won the Nobel Prize while he was a politician, as he references his daughter Ellie being in third grade at the time of his award (presumably the late 1970s), and he entered politics presumably in the early 1970s.

Political CareerEdit

By 1971, Josiah Bartlet had been elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives[22]. From the New Hampshire State House, Bartlet started his political career, and learned the basics of politics[23]. Bartlet served in the House, not the US Senate, so is unaware of Senate rules. (Ref. "Grandfathers- The Stackhouse Filibuster") Bartlet ran against Republican Elliot Roush for United States House of Representatives and won.[24] Despite the win, Bartlet seemed to harbor resentment towards Roush due to what Bartlet perceived as a tendency to twist Scriptural teachings in order to support bigoted beliefs. Bartlet would go on to serve three terms in the House.[25]

MS Diagnosis Edit

Sometime in the early 1990s, over a time of several months, Bartlet started to feel somewhat unwell and had a pain in his right leg, both of which eventually went away. However, the pain came back about two years later, in addition to numbness. Bartlet also would feel dizzy and his vision would sometimes be blurry. After an eye-exam doctor detected abnormal pupil responses, the doctor ordered an MRI. A radiologist discovered plaques on Bartlet's spine and brain, leading the doctors and Bartlet himself to learn that he had, and still has, a relapsing/remitting course of MS, or Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic disease of the central nervous system. And originally, prior to the start of the series, only a handful of other people (at least a little over a dozen) knew he had MS, including himself as well as his wife Abbey, their three daughters, his brother, the vice president, the chairman of the joint chiefs, and several other doctors. After the diagnosis, Bartlet kept this information concealed from the rest of the world.

Governor of New Hampshire Edit

Bartlet served two terms as the Governor of New Hampshire.[26] He served his first term as Governor from 1991 to 1995 and his second term from 1995 to 1999[27]. As Governor, Bartlet was very popular with the people of New Hampshire, and won his second term with 69% of the vote, a margin very impressive for a Democrat in the Libertarian-conservative leaning state. [28] He was so popular, in fact, that when he decided to later run for President of the United States, his staff encouraged him to all but ignore the New Hampshire primary as he had no chance of losing it. Governor Bartlet was for strict state seatbelt laws, but failed to act on it, because it would waste time in the state legislature.[29]

Bartlet also signed into state law the Historic Barn and Bridges Preservation Act, an act that he later regretted when it interfered with his plans for his Presidential Library. The law provided that certain barns, bridges, and other buildings more than a century old needed to be preserved. [30] As Governor, Bartlet had to deal with several state lawsuits.[31] One of his primary concerns as governor was tourism. During his terms, he somewhat reluctantly approved the use of the slogan "New Hampshire, It's what's new" and increases in snowmobile and "fall foliage" tourism.[32] He appointed Robert Nolan to the New Hampshire State Medical Board, possibly because he was a colleague of Bartlet's wife, Abbey.[33]

President of the United StatesEdit

See United States presidential election, 1998, the Bartlet Administration and Bartlet for America for more information.
Josiah Bartlet
It was at the end of his governorship that Bartlet's good friend, Leo McGarry, suggested a run for the Presidency. Following the concession by Senator John Hoynes, the one-time front-runner, Bartlet offered him the position of running mate. Governor Bartlet won the 1998 election with 303 electoral votes to 228 electoral, but only won a plurality of the popular vote.

As President-Elect, Bartlet was angered that the outgoing Republican President seemed to be sticking him with a military conflict in the Philippines.[37] He remarked that he would have to remember to "fire Fitzwallace," but thankfully this never came to pass.

Bartlet was inaugurated as President of the United States on January 20th, 1999. His administration was a relative success in his first term. In May 2000, an attempt was made on the president's life while coming out of a town hall meeting in Rosslyn, Virginia. It was later revealed that Bartlet was not the original target of the assassination and made a full recovery. In the spring of 2001, Bartlet announced that he suffered from a relapsing-remitting course of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) which threatened his chances of being reelected in 2002. In spite of this, Bartlet announced that he would seek a second term against his Republican opponent Robert Richie. After a presidential debate in which Bartlet clearly came out on top, he won re-election in a landslide victory. Bartlet's second term began on January 20th, 2003.

In May 2003, Vice President Hoynes resigned in the wake of a sex scandal. Later that same month, Bartlet's youngest daughter Zoey was kidnapped. Bartlet felt that he couldn't perform his duties objectively while worrying about his daughter, so he invoked the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, temporarily handing over the powers of the presidency to the next in line of succession. As the administration had no vice president at that time, the Republican Speaker of the House Glen Allen Walken was sworn in as Acting President. Zoey was eventually found alive and Bartlet resumed power three days later. 

In December 2005, Bartlet, while traveling aboard Air Force One to a summit in China, was left working from a wheelchair after having a massive MS episode. He gradually regained feeling but was relegated to walking with a cane. When President-Elect Matt Santos was inaugurated as the new President on January 20th 2007, Bartlet returned to his farm just outside Manchester, New Hampshire to enjoy retired life. The Josiah Bartlet Presidential Library was opened at the beginning of 2010 in Manchester, New Hampshire.


Jed Bartlet's mother was a Roman Catholic and his father was a religious Protestant. Due to the poor relationship between Bartlet and his father, Jed chose to follow the faith of his loving mother. To this day, Bartlet remains a devout Roman Catholic, attending church every Sunday.



  • Phillips Exeter Academy (1956-1960)
  • B.A. in American Studies (minor in Theology) - University of Notre Dame (graduated summa cum laude) (1960-1964)
  • Masters Degree - London School of Economics (1964-1966)
  • Ph.D. - London School of Economics (1966-1970)
  • Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters - Dartmouth University (1998)


  • Professor of Economics at Dartmouth University
  • 1985: Nobel Laureate in Economics
  • Author: Theory and Design of Macroeconomics in Developing Nations



"Jed" Bartlet was played by Martin Sheen. Although the show had an ensemble cast, the main character in the series became President Bartlet. Bartlet represents, in many ways, an "ideal liberal president," endowed with a fierce intellect, great (though not infallible) personal integrity and toughness, but tempered with essential compassion for the less fortunate and a sense of humor.

Bartlet was not originally intended to be a key member of the cast. He was only meant to make occasional appearances. Alan Alda (who would play Senator Arnold Vinick), George C. Scott (the star of Patton) and Sidney Poitier were also considered for the role of President Bartlet.

The MS scandal is based on the Bill Clinton Impeachment and Bartlet shares several similarities with former President Clinton.

Bartlet also has similarities to John F. Kennedy. Like Kennedy, Bartlet is a New England Democrat who defeated a much more qualified competitor for the Democratic nomination who was a U.S. Senator from Texas who became Democratic floor leader in the Senate in a short period of time. In Kennedy's case this was Lyndon Johnson, in Bartlet's case it was John Hoynes. Bartlet, like Kennedy, hid a serious illness during the presidential campaign that could have prevented him from winning the Democratic primary. After winning the nomination Bartlet, also like Kennedy, had to beg his former rival to accept the vice presidency in order to get support from the South and win the general election.

People Who Knew Edit

This is the list of people who originally knew Bartlet has MS prior to the start of the series, including himself.

This is the list of people who were told of Bartlet's condition throughout the series:


  1. "Liberty is down!" from He Shall, from Time to Time...
  2. "My great grandfather's great-grandfather was Dr. Josiah Bartlett, who was the New Hampshire delegate to the second Continental Congress" from What Kind of Day Has It Been?
  3. "Yes. I remember being locked in a steamer trunk." "There were actual steamers in there with me, Charlie. I was in there with seafood." from Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail
  4. "I walked to school every morning in weather colder than this." from Inauguration: Over There (Part II)
  5. "You're at the school because I'm the headmaster." from Two Cathedrals
  6. From a scene in Two Cathedrals
  7. "I got 800/790. For the life of me, I can't imagine what I got wrong. Then I took them again, and got 800/790. I mean, is it possible there was some sort of number-two pencil anomaly that could've...?" from Holy Night
  8. "You were accepted at Harvard, Yale, and Williams." from The Portland Trip
  9. The Indians in the Lobby
  10. Bartlet is seen wearing a Notre Dame sweatshirt in Five Votes Down
  11. From a conversation with C.J. Cregg in The Portland Trip
  12. From a conversation in Memorial Day, paraphrasing that the Notre Dame Athletic department would agree to make Bartlet wear a special pitching vest, instead of attempting pitching by himself.
  13. "For the record, the President graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame with a major in American Studies and a minor in theology." from The U.S. Poet Laureate
  14. According to Stanley Keyworth in Night Five
  15. "When I was 26, I wrote a paper supporting the deregulation of Far East trade barriers. Nearly got thrown out of the London School of Economics. I was young and stupid, and trying to make some noise." from The Short List
  16. "He received a Masters and a Doctorate at the London School of Economics" from The U.S. Poet Laureate
  17. "I am an economics professor..." from The Crackpots and These Women
  18. According to Stanley Keyworth in Night Five
  19. "...a Doctorate at the London School of Economics and an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Dartmouth University where he was a tenured professor." from The U.S. Poet Laureate
  20. "Jed Bartlet, Nobel Laureate in Economics..." from Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc
  21. According to Josh Lyman in The U.S. Poet Laureate
  22. "28 years ago, I come home from a very bad day at the State House." from Pilot
  23. "What about state legislature? It's the place to learn. The President started there..." from Abu el Banat
  24. "I don't know who Elliot Roush is..." "I beat him in my first Congressional campaign." from The Midterms
  25. "Jed Bartlet, Nobel Laureate in Economics, three-term congressman..." from Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc
  26. "...three-term congressman, two-term Governor" from Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc
  27. "I remember a time in the Governor's mansion. It was about ten years ago..." from In the Shadow of Two Gunmen, Part I
  28. "I was saying, what I don't understand is you guys were such fans of the President, you loved him when he was governor." from Hartsfield's Landing
  29. "And I was for it then. Never did anything about it because nobody wanted it." from The Women of Qumar
  30. "What plaid flannel-wearing, cheese eating, yahoo of a milkman governor signed that idiot bill into state law? It was me, wasn't it?" from Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail
  31. "Have I ever been party to a lawsuit? I was governor of New Hampshire. Anybody who..." from Bad Moon Rising
  32. From a scene in Bartlet for America
  33. "Yeah, they worked together for 20 years, and I was the governor who appointed him to the Board." from Dead Irish Writers

United States Congressional Delegation from New Hampshire
Englemann (D) | Gillis (R)
Bartlet (D) | Bartlett | Campbell (D)

Preceded by:
Governor of New Hampshire
Succeeded by:
eventually Wilkins
Preceded by:
President of the United States
Acting: Glen Allen Walken

1999 - 2007
Succeeded by:
Matt Santos
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