Monday, April 13, 2015

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said...

Here, in descending order by their age upon becoming president, are the 44 individuals who have been president of the United States:

Ronald Reagan 69
William Henry Harrison 68
James Buchanan 65
Zachary Taylor 64
George Herbert Walker Bush 64
Dwight D. Eisenhower 62
John Adams 61
Andrew Jackson 61
Gerald R. Ford 61
Harry S. Truman 60
James Monroe 58
George Washington 57
Thomas Jefferson 57
James Madison 57
John Quincy Adams 57
Andrew Johnson 56
Grover Cleveland (2) 56
Woodrow Wilson 56
Richard M. Nixon 56
Benjamin Harrison 55
Warren G. Harding 55
Lyndon Johnson 55
George Walker Bush 55
Martin Van Buren 54
Rutherford B. Hayes 54
William McKinley 54
Herbert Hoover 54
Abraham Lincoln 52
James Earl “Jimmy” Carter 52
John Tyler 51
William Howard Taft 51
Calvin Coolidge 51
Franklin D. Roosevelt 51
Millard Fillmore 50
Chester A. Arthur 50
James K. Polk 49
James A. Garfield 49
Franklin Pierce 48
Grover Cleveland (1) 47
Barack Obama 47
Ulysses S. Grant 46
William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton 46
John F. Kennedy 43
Theodore Roosevelt 42

[Note. Because Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms as president, he is listed twice. --RWP]

“So what?” you say. Ho hum. Big yawn.

Perhaps you will find the following interesting.

Here is the current crop of candidates who have formally announced that they want to become president and the ages they will be on election day in November 2016:

Former New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D, NY) 69
Texas Senator Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz (R, TX) 45
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R, KY) 53
Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R, FL) 45

There are still others whose names are being mentioned as possible candidates:

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) 67
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R, NJ) 54
Former Florida Governer John Ellis “Jeb” Bush (R, FL) 53
Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan (R, WI) 53
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R, LA) 45
Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson (R) 65
Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina (R, CA) 62
Businessman Donald Trump (I kid you not) (R, NY) 70

There may be still others who will rise to prominence, but since I don’t know who they are, I cannot tell you their ages.

Is age important? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I’ve heard that experience is the best teacher, but it probably depends on just what experiences one has had. Some people never learn. For every proverb, there is an opposite proverb, as in (1) Absence makes the heart grow fonder and (2) Out of sight, out of mind.

One of the current presidential candidates said (not about age but about a completely different topic) , “At this point, what difference does it make?”

Perhaps none. Perhaps a great deal.

Another of the current candidates says, “This is not about yesterday. This is about tomorrow.”


  1. I never realised that there was a complementary proverb for each ~ and yes I did learn proverbs at school. I thought the same thing about Mrs Clinton's age when it was announced yesterday, so thank you for putting it into context. I don't think I would have the energy at my age, to be President.

  2. Given the sheer volume of work involved in being a President youth (or vitality which is not the same thing) would be advantageous.
    Life experience is also a plus, but I suspect that most of their experience is very definitely of 'one side of the tracks'. No easy answers.

  3. I hate to break the news Mr Brague but at 74 I think your chances of becoming President are so small as to be almost non-existent. There is more chance of you meeting an alien in your backyard or jumping off the rim of The Grand Canyon and discovering that you can fly like a bird. But not to worry I am sure that Mrs Clinton will do a fine job - continuing President Obama's good work. Compared with you, she is just a spring chicken.

  4. Very interesting! I never even thought to wonder the age of the confirmed and possible candidates. It's not much of a factor to me, I guess. But interesting to look back and compare!

  5. You did not mention John McCain – isn’t he running again? I think he will be 79 next August – maybe a bit too “mature.” I think Ronald Reagan was too old – you just don’t get Alzheimer suddenly – it is a slow illness that takes years and he had it while in office, that’s for sure. I remember that he said 88 times that he could not remember the Contra deal during his testimony ….(“I don’t recall” “I’m hazy on this”…)

  6. And I thought Kennedy was the youngest!

  7. Carol, I wouldn't have had the energy at any age to be President!

    Elephant's Child, youth is wasted on the young.

    Yorkshire Pudding, Hillary seems to have far more ambition than all the other candidates put together. A shy, demure, shrinking violet she is not.

    LightExpectations, whether age is a factor is up to each individual voter, I would say.

    Vagabonde, I don't think McCain is running this time. Regarding Reagan's testimony, it is my opinion that most people who say "I don't recall" really do and are perjuring themselves, but in his case he really didn't recall.

    Snowbrush, at 43 Kennedy was the youngest person elected to the presidency. Roosevelt was 42 when, as William McKinley's vice-president, he became president upon McKinley's assassinatio in 1901. Roosevelt was elected to another term in 1904, but by then he was older than Kennedy was when he was elected in 1960. So it is a technicality depending on how you phrase it: Theodore Roosevelt is the youngest person ever to hold the office of U.S. president; John F. Kennedy is the youngest person ever elected to the office of U.S.president.