The Youngest Presidents in U.S. History

Teddy Roosevelt Was the Youngest, Trump the Oldest

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Rosenberg, Jennifer. "The Youngest Presidents in U.S. History." ThoughtCo, Oct. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-youngest-presidents-in-u-s-history-1779979. Rosenberg, Jennifer. (2017, October 9). The Youngest Presidents in U.S. History. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-youngest-presidents-in-u-s-history-1779979 Rosenberg, Jennifer. "The Youngest Presidents in U.S. History." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-youngest-presidents-in-u-s-history-1779979 (accessed October 22, 2017).
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Everyone knows that John F. Kennedy was young when he became president of the United States, but he wasn't the youngest—Theodore Roosevelt holds that title. Nine men were inaugurated as president before they turned 50. (This list contains 44 U.S. presidents rather than 45 because Grover Cleveland (who had two non-sequential terms in office) has not been counted twice.)

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest president ever sworn into office.

He was 42 years, 10 months and 18 days old when he first crossed the threshold of the White House as president after the assassination of President William McKinley, for whom he served as vice president. Roosevelt served from 1901 to 1909 and was most known for his progressive reforms, the antitrust Sherman Act and the building of the Panama Canal.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy was the youngest president ever elected at 43 years, 7 months and 22 days old on the day he uttered the famous line, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," at his Inaugural Address. He served from 1961 until his death at the young age of 46 in November 1963. The nuclear test ban treaty of 1963 is looked upon as the greatest accomplishment of his very short tenure in office, along with the initiative to explore space. But he is most remembered for his assassination on Nov.

22, 1963, in Dallas, which also made him the youngest president to die.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton took office at the age of 46 years, 5 months and 1 day and served from 1993 to 2001. His greatest accomplishments were economic: unemployment and inflation were low, and he achieved a budget surplus. The years in which he served are remembered as a time of peace and prosperity.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant had won the Civil War for the Union, and less than four years later he was inaugurated as president of the United States at the still-young age of 46 years, 10 months and 5 days. Grant was president from 1869 to 1877, and during that time he steered the South through Reconstruction, sometimes resorting to military force to support it.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama, who served from 2009 to 2017, was 47 years, 5 months and 16 days old when he was sworn into office. He will be most remembered for being the country's first black president along with his signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, which provided health insurance to millions who were uninsured or under-insured. The bill became so identified with him that it was nicknamed Obamacare.

Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland was 47 years, 11 months and 14 days old when he took office in 1885. His most important accomplishment was the signing of the Interstate Commerce Act, the first legislation directed at regulation of the railroads. Cleveland is the only president to serve two terms separated by another president —he served from 1885 to 1889 and from 1893 to 1897.

Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce was 48 years, 3 months and 9 days old on his Inauguration Day.

He served from 1853 to 1857, and though this period seemed peaceful, developments like the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and the violence between advocates of free and slave states in what would go down in history as Bleeding Kansas, a result of this act, sowed the seeds of the Civil War to come.

James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield became president of the United States at the age of 49 years, 3 months and 13 days.  Before becoming president he had been a brigadier general during the Civil War and had served in Congress for 18 years. But his tenure in the White House was extremely short: He took office in 1881 and in July of that year was shot; he died two months later. His administration held promise of a strong president but he did not have time to see that through.

James K. Polk

James K. Polk was sworn in as president when he was 49 years, 4 months and 2 days old; he served from 1845 to 1849.

He was a president in the Jacksonian mold and an expansionist. He acquired territory south of the 49th parallel in the Northwest via treaty with the British in 1846 and California and New Mexico in 1848 as part of the settlement of the Mexican-American War.

The Other Presidents, From Youngest to Oldest

  • Millard Fillmore (50 years, 6 months, 2 days)
  • John Tyler (51 years, 0 months, 6 days)
  • Calvin Coolidge (51 years, 0 months, 29 days)
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt (51 years, 1 month, 4 days)
  • William H. Taft (51 years, 5 months, 17 days)
  • Chester A. Arthur (51 years, 11 months, 14 days)
  • Abraham Lincoln (52 years, 0 months, 20 day)
  • Jimmy Carter (52 years, 3 months, 19 days)
  • William McKinley (54 years, 1 month, 4 days)
  • Martin Van Buren (54 years, 2 months, 27 days)
  • Rutherford B. Hayes (54 years, 5 months, 0 days)
  • George W. Bush (54 years, 6 months, 14 days)
  • Herbert Hoover (54 years, 6 months, 22 days)
  • Lyndon B. Johnson (55 years, 2 months, 26 days)
  • Warren G. Harding (55 years, 4 months, 2 days)
  • Benjamin Harrison (55 years, 6 months, 12 days)
  • Richard M. Nixon (56 years, 0 months, 11 days)
  • Woodrow Wilson (56 years, 2 months, 4 days)
  • Andrew Johnson (56 years, 3 months, 17 days)
  • George Washington (57 years, 2 months, 8 days)
  • John Quincy Adams (57 years, 7 months, 21 days)
  • Thomas Jefferson (57 years, 10 months, 19 days)
  • James Madison (57 years, 11 months, 16 days)
  • James Monroe (58 years 10 months, 4 days)
  • Harry S. Truman (60 years, 11 months, 4 days)
  • Gerald R. Ford (61 years, 0 months, 26 days)
  • John Adams (61 years, 4 months, 4 days)
  • Andrew Jackson (61 years, 11 months, 17 days)
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (62 years, 3 months, 6 days)
  • Zachary Taylor (64 years, 3 months, 8 days)
  • George H.W. Bush (64 years, 7 months, 8 days)
  • James Buchanan (65 years, 10 months, 9 days)
  • William H. Harrison (68 years, 0 months, 23 days)
  • Ronald Reagan (69 years, 11 months, 14 days)
  • Donald J. Trump (70 years, 7 months, 6 days)

 

Format
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Your Citation
Rosenberg, Jennifer. "The Youngest Presidents in U.S. History." ThoughtCo, Oct. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-youngest-presidents-in-u-s-history-1779979. Rosenberg, Jennifer. (2017, October 9). The Youngest Presidents in U.S. History. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-youngest-presidents-in-u-s-history-1779979 Rosenberg, Jennifer. "The Youngest Presidents in U.S. History." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-youngest-presidents-in-u-s-history-1779979 (accessed October 22, 2017).