Youngest U.S. Presidents Ever

10 of the Youngest U.S. Presidents in History

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Despite the age requirement to become the president being only 35, the median age at inauguration of incoming U.S. presidents is 55 years. So far, no president has been anywhere near 35. In fact, the youngest president ever was 42 years old at his inauguration. For whatever reason, all of the U.S. presidents have been middle-aged men and they keep getting older. The current president, Joe Biden, is the oldest U.S. president in history – Biden was 78 at his inauguration.

However, all of the presidents on this list were younger than the average at the time of their inaugurations. Nearly all of them were in their 40s, which is young by comparison.

10. Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874)

Age at Start of Presidency: 50 years, 6 months, 2 days
Duration of Presidency: July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
Political Party: Whig

photo source: Wikimedia Commons


Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States and the  the last to be a member of the Whig Party while in the White House. Fillmore was serving as the Vice President under Zachary Taylor and Fillmore assumed the role of president when Taylor suddenly died from stomach disease in 1850. The most notable achievement of Fillmore’s presidency is the passing of the Compromise of 1850, a bargain that led to a brief truce in the battle over the expansion of slavery.

Although Fillmore sought the Whig nomination in the 1852 Presidential Election, he was not successful. Fillmore tried to run for president again in 1856, but failed again. After his presidency, Fillmore remained active in civic interests. During the Civil War, Fillmore denounced secession and agreed that the Union must be maintained by force if necessary, but he was critical of Abraham Lincoln’s war policies. Following the war, Fillmore supported the Reconstruction movement.

Did You Know?

In 1847, Millard Fillmore was elected Comptroller of New York, becoming the first person to hold that post by direct election.


9. James K. Polk (November 2, 1795 – June 15, 1849)

Age at Start of Presidency: 49 years, 4 months, 2 days
Duration of Presidency: March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
Political Party: Democratic

James K. Polkphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

 

James K. Polk was the 11th President of the United States and a pretty obscure historical figure. Polk is best remembered for his efforts to expand the territory of the United States through the Mexican–American War. During Polk’s presidency, the United States annexed the Republic of Texas, the Oregon Territory, and the Mexican Cession following American victory in the Mexican–American War.

Polk was a protégé of Andrew Jackson and an advocate of Jacksonian democracy, a  political philosophy that expanded suffrage to most white men over the age of 21, and restructured a number of federal institutions. Before becoming president, Polk served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and as the ninth Governor of Tennessee.

Did You Know?

James K. Polk pledged to only pursue one term as president. He kept his word and died three months after leaving the White House.


8. James A. Garfield (November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881)

Age at Start of Presidency: 49 years, 3 months, 15 days
Duration of Presidency: March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
Political Party: Republican

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

James A. Garfield was the 20th President of the United States, who did not have time to really do anything because he was assassinated just 199 days into his presidency. Garfield was assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau, a disappointed and delusional office seeker. This is the second-shortest term that a president has served, after William Henry Harrison’s singular month in office.

Despite his short-lived presidency, Garfield had been in politics for several decades before he was elected president. Garfield served as a member of the Ohio State Senate and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1863 until his election in 1880. As a politician, Garfield advocated agricultural technology, an educated electorate, and civil rights for African Americans.

Did You Know?

James A. Garfield is the only  president to have been elected while a sitting member of the United States House of Representatives.


7. Franklin Pierce (November 23, 1804 – October 8, 1869)

Age at Start of Presidency: 48 years, 3 months, 11 days
Duration of Presidency: March 4, 1853 – March 4, 1857
Political Party: Democratic

Franklin Piercephoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States, who is best known for his anti-abolishonist beliefs and policies that accelerated the conflict between the North and South. Pierce and his administration alienated anti-slavery groups. The passing of the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which nullified the Missouri Compromise (an effort to maintain balance between slave and free states), directly led to violent conflict over the expansion of slavery in the American West. All of this eventually triggered the start of the American Civil War in 1861.

Although he sought a second term, Pierce was abandoned by his party in the 1856 election. Unfortunately, historians and scholars often rank Pierce as one of the worst and least memorable presidents.

Did You Know?

Although he did not have prior military experience, Franklin Pierce appealed to President James K. Polk to allow him to be an officer during the Mexican-American War. Pierce was granted the rank of Brigadier General and helped capture Mexico City.


6. Grover Cleveland (March 18, 1837 – June 24, 1908)

Age at Start of Presidency: 47 years, 11 months, 17 days
Duration of Presidency: March 4, 1885 – March 4, 1899; March 4, 1893 – March 4, 1897
Political Party: Democratic

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. Cleveland was 47 when he was elected to his first term in 1885. He is the only president in U.S. history to serve two nonconsecutive terms. Despite winning the popular vote all three times that he ran for president – 1884, 1888, and 1892 – Cleveland did not secure enough electoral college votes in 1888 and lost to Benjamin Harrison.

Although Cleveland enjoyed his return to life as a private citizen, he always wanted a second term and went after it in 1892. This time, Cleveland defeated Harrison in the election. Before becoming president, Cleveland was the 28th Governor of New York. Cleveland was a champion of for political reform and fiscal conservatism.

Did You Know?

Grover Cleveland was known for being a big guy. At 275 pounds, he was the second-heaviest President after William Howard Taft, and Cleveland had a penchant for drinking beer and smoking cigars.


5. Barack Obama (August 4, 1961 – Present)

Age at Start of Presidency: 47 years, 5 months, 16 days
Duration of Presidency: January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017
Political Party: Democratic

Barack Obamaphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States and the first African American president in U.S. history. During and after his presidency, Obama has been one of the most popular American political figures in recent history, both in the U.S. and abroad. Throughout the duration of Obama’s presidency, the United States’ reputation abroad, as well as the American economy, significantly improved. Obama was re-elected in 2013 and served a full second term.

In college, Obama studied law at Columbia University and Harvard. While attending Harvard Law School, Obama became the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. After working as a civil rights attorney, Obama entered politics for the first time in 1997 when he was elected to the Illinois Senate. Obama also served as a U.S. Senator from Illinois from 2005 until he won the 2008 Presidential Election.

Did You Know?

When he was younger, Barack Obama thought about studying architecture, but felt that he was actually not as creative as he thought he was and turned to politics instead.


4. Ulysses S. Grant (April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885)

Age at Start of Presidency: 46 years, 10 months, 7 days
Duration of Presidency: March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
Political Party: Republican

Ulysses S. Grantphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States, and best known for being the Commanding General of the Union Army during the American Civil War. As president, Grant championed civil rights and he is responsible for establishing the U.S. Justice Department. Grant also worked the Radical Republicans to protect African Americans during Reconstruction. Additionally, Grant worked to stabilize the post-war national economy, supported Congressional Reconstruction, ratification of the 15th Amendment, and crushed the Ku Klux Klan.

Grant served two terms as president and left office in 1877. After his presidency, Grant traveled the world and assumed an unofficial diplomatic role. Following his renewed popularity, Grant did seek a third term in 1880, but failed to secure the Republican nomination.

Did You Know?

Ulysses S. Grant’s middle initial “S” does not actually stand for anything. It was an error entered on Grant’s application to West Point, but the name stuck because he was “U.S.” Grant.


3. Bill Clinton (August 19, 1946 – Present)

Age at Start of Presidency: 46 years, 5 months, 1 day
Duration of Presidency: January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
Political Party: Democratic

Bill Clintonphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

William J. Clinton, aka Bill Clinton, is the third youngest U.S. President ever; he was 46 years, 5 months, and 1 day old at his inauguration in 1993. Clinton was a centrist Democrat, whose legacy is marred by his affair with Monica Lewinsky, who was only 22 years old at the time, and his impeachment, which was related to the investigation into his relations with Lewinsky.

However, despite his personal scandals, Clinton had a successful presidency and left office with the highest  end-of-term approval rating of any U.S. president since Franklin Roosevelt. Clinton is often ranked in the upper tier of historical rankings of U.S. presidents. Under Clinton, the U.S. experienced the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history.

Did You Know?

Bill Clinton is the only U.S. president who was a Rhodes Scholar. The Rhodes Scholarship is one the most prestigious international scholarship programs in the world.


2. John F. Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963)

Age at Start of Presidency: 43 years, 7 months, 22 days
Duration of Presidency: January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
Political Party: Democratic

John F. Kennedyphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

As we all know, President John F. Kennedy, commonly called JFK, was a popular progressive politician, who was assassinated in his third year of office. Kennedy was 43 when he became president and just 46 years old when he was gunned down. The height of the Cold War took place during Kennedy’s few years as president and most of his term was spent handling U.S. relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba.

As a young man, Kennedy was in the U.S. Naval Reserve and he was called to duty during World War II. Following his military service, Kennedy briefly worked as a journalist before he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1947. Kennedy was a Congressman until 1953, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He served seven years as a senator before winning the 1960 Presidential Election.

Did You Know?

John F. Kennedy is the only president that received a Purple Heart. It was awarded to him for his heroism during the sinking of the PT-109 during World War II.


1. Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919)

Age at Start of Presidency: 42 years, 10 months, 18 days
Duration of Presidency: September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
Political Party: Republican

Theodore Rooseveltphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Theodore Roosevelt was the age of 42 years, 10 months, 18 days at his inauguration, which makes him the youngest U.S. President in history. Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States after the assassination of President William McKinley. During his presidency, Roosevelt championed progressive policies that strengthened the middle class. As a naturalist, Roosevelt also prioritized nature conservation and he is responsible for establishing the U.S. National Parks System. Under Roosevelt’s guidance, countless natural resources in the U.S. have been preserved.

Roosevelt was re-elected in 1904 and he completed his second term in 1909. Although Roosevelt greatly enjoyed being president, he did not seek a third term (the U.S. did not limit a president’s terms until 1951) because he believed that term limits were a check against dictatorship.

Did You Know?

Theodore Roosevelt was a prolific writer, who authored about 35 books and over 150,000 letters during his lifetime.


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