Youngest Presidents of the United States

John F. Kennedy is often perceived as young and his untimely death may lead many people to believe that he was the youngest president of the United States. However, it was another assassination that led to the presidency of the man who was indeed the youngest to hold the nation's top office.

The year was 1901 and the nation was still in shock. President William McKinley had been assassinated days earlier and his young vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, ascended to the presidency.

"A terrible bereavement has befallen our people," Roosevelt wrote in a proclamation to the American people on September 14 of that year. "The President of the United States has been struck down; a crime not only against the Chief Magistrate, but against every law-abiding and liberty-loving citizen."

Our youngest president was only seven years older than the constitutional requirement that the White House occupant be at least 35 years old.

However, Roosevelt's leadership ability defied his youthful age.

The Theodore Roosevelt Association states:

"Though he remains the youngest person ever to hold America’s highest office, Roosevelt was one of the best prepared to be president, entering the White House with a broad understanding of governmental and legislative processes and with executive leadership experience." 

Roosevelt was re-elected in 1904, at which time he reportedly said to his wife: "My dear, I am no longer a political accident."

All of our presidents have been at least 42 when they moved into the White House. Some of them have been decades older than that. The oldest president ever to take the White House, Donald Trump, was 70 when he took the oath of office. 

Who were the youngest presidents in U.S. history? Let's look at the nine men who were under 50 when they were sworn in.

Theodore Roosevelt
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Theodore Roosevelt was America's youngest president at 42 years, 10 months, and 18 days old when he was sworn into the presidency.

Roosevelt was likely used to being the young guy in politics. He had been elected to the New York State Legislature at the age of 23. That made him the youngest state lawmaker in New York at the time. More »

President John F. Kennedy Swearing In
John F Kennedy takes the oath of office administered by Chief Justice Earl Warren. Getty Images/Hulton Archive

John F. Kennedy is often mentioned as the youngest president ever. He took the presidential Oath of Office in 1961 at 43 years, 7 months, and 22 days old.

While Kennedy isn't the youngest person to occupy the White House, he is the youngest person elected president. Keep in mind that Roosevelt wasn't initially elected president and that he was vice president when McKinley was killed. More »

President Bill Clinton swearing in
Chief Justice William Renquist swears in President Bill Clinton in 1993. Jacques M. Chenet/Corbis Documentary

Bill Clinton, a former governor of Arkansas, became the third-youngest president in U.S. history when he took the oath of office for the first of two terms in 1993. Clinton was 46 years, 5 months, and 1 day old at the time.

A pair of Republicans interested in seeking the presidency in 2016, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, would have replaced Clinton as third-youngest president had either been elected.  More »

Ulysses S. Grant was among the youngest U.S. presidents in history.
Brady-Handy Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)

Ulysses S. Grant is the fourth-youngest president in U.S. history. He was 46 years, 10 months, and 5 days old when he took the oath of office in 1869. 

Until Roosevelt's ascension to the presidency, Grant had been the youngest president to hold the office. He was inexperienced and his administration plagued by scandal. More »

President Barack Obama is among the youngest presidents in U.S. history.
Pool / Getty Images News

Barack Obama is the fifth-youngest president in U.S. history. He was 47 years, 5 months, and 16 days old when he took the oath in 2009.

During the 2008 presidential race, his inexperience was a major issue. He had served only four years in the U.S. Senate before becoming president, but before that had served eight years as a state lawmaker in Illinois. More »

Grover Cleveland Relaxing by Fireplace
Corbis/VCG via Getty Images / Getty Images

Grover Cleveland is the only president who served two non-consecutive terms in office and is the sixth-youngest in history. When he took the oath for the first time in 1885, he was 47 years, 11 months, and 14 days old.

The man who many believe to be among America's best presidents not new to political powers. He was previously the Sherriff of Erie County, New York, Mayor of Buffalo, and was then elected Governor of New York in 1883. More »

Ten years before the Civil War, Franklin Pierce was elected to the presidency at the age of 48 years, 3 months, and 9 days, making him the seventh-youngest president. His 1853 election would mark four turbulent years with a shadow of what was to come.

Pierce made his political mark as a state legislator in New Hampshire, then moved on to the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Pro-slavery and a supporter of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, he was not the most popular president in history. More »

In 1881, James Garfield took office and became the eighth-youngest president. On the day of his inauguration, he was 49 years, 3 months, and 13 days old.

Prior to his presidency, Garfield had served 17 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing his home state of Ohio. In 1880, he was elected to the Senate, but his presidential win meant he would never serve in that role.

Garfield was shot in July of 1881 and died in September of blood poisoning. He was not, however, the president with the shortest term. That title goes to William Henry Harrison who died one month after his 1841 inauguration. More »

The ninth youngest president was James K. Polk. He was sworn in at 49 years, 4 months, and 2 days old and his presidency lasted from 1845 through 1849.

Polk's political career began at the age of 28 in the Texas House of Representatives. He moved up to the U.S. House of Representatives and became Speaker of the House during his tenure. His presidency was marked by the Mexican-American War and the biggest additions to the U.S. territory. More »