The Presidency of the United States is one of the most well known political offices in history. Every person to lead the nation has left their mark – some good, some less so – to help mold and define the country and the people living within it.
This post shows a list of US presidents and the various numbers behind some of the great people who held the office of the presidency.
List of US Presidents by Number of Terms Served
In 1796 then US president George Washington set an unofficial precedent by choosing not to run for re-election for a third term.
Since then the US has had an equal number of presidents serve one and two full terms (13 each). Coincidentally, Washington was the first two term president while his successor, John Adams, was the first one term president.
Washington’s two term precedent ruled the presidency all the way until Franklin D Roosevelt chose to bypass it in 1940. FDR sought a third term as the US was on the brink of entry into World War II. He eventually won a 4th term, though died early on in that term.
Because of this act and the perceived threat to democracy, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1951. The amendment officially stated a person could only be elected president twice. Interestingly enough, though FDR was the only president to be elected to office more than twice, his cousin, Teddy Roosevelt, as well as Ulysses Grant each sought a third term, though failed in their attempts.
Presidents who served less than one term, or between 1-2 terms did so for one of the following reasons: they died in office, were assassinated, resigned from office, or were a Vice President that took over office. Some Vice Presidents only served the remainder of their term (such as John Tyler and Gerald Ford) while others went on to win their own election the next cycle (like Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman).
While the longest presidency was FDR at over twelve years, the shortest was William Henry Harrison at a mere 31 days. Harrison famously gave a long inaugural speech in the bitter cold that is thought to have given him pneumonia.
The Youngest and Oldest Presidents
The office of the presidency has surprisingly few rules about who qualifies for the job. One of the key rulings is that one must be at least 35 years of age to be eligible for President.
For the most part, this has not been an issue. A vast majority of the list of US Presidents have been 50 years old or older, with 25 of the 46 presidents (Grover Cleveland is counted twice) within that age range during their inauguration. 4 of the first 5 presidents were in their late 50s (Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe) as well as other well known presidents such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon.
The youngest president of the US was Theodore Roosevelt at the ripe age of 42 years old. This was not intentional, as Roosevelt only became president at that age due to the assassination of William McKinley.
The title of youngest elected president in the US actually belongs to John F Kennedy at 43 years old. Despite criticisms that he was too young and inexperienced for the job, it’s largely believed that his strong performance in the first ever televised debates catapulted him into the presidency.
In recent years the pendulum has swung between young and old presidents. Two of the last five presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, were in their 40’s when elected, and are among the 5 youngest presidents.
On the other hand, four of the last seven presidents are among the six oldest presidents. This includes Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The oldest president of the US by far is Joe Biden at 78 years old.
With an age range of 36 years (42-78) it’s clear that Presidents can come from many different age groups.