Happy Presidents’ Day America! On every third monday in February, we take time (sometimes a full day if you’re lucky) to relax and appreciate the great – and not so great – men who have led our country through the good times and the bad. This day was originally a federal holiday in honor of George Washington’s birthday, until President Nixon declared that it should recognize all US Presidents. So in honor of this day, and because we here at *AT* love all things presidential, here are some fun facts about some statistical records among the leaders of the free world.
For reference, check out this list of US Presidents to refresh your mindgrapes.
Surprise! Honest Abe is famous for his stature, but LBJ measured just as tall at 6′ 4″. Because of his height, Johnson was widely known to be very physically intimidating, a stark contrast to President Lincoln who was by most accounts somewhat of a ‘gentle giant’.
Our fourth president James Madison was the shortest of all presidents, standing at 5′ 4″. This is 2″ shorter than his closest colleagues in office.
Youngest at Time of Inauguration
On September 14th, 1901, Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated as president at the age of 42 years and 322 days. But to be fair, he was not the youngest president ever to be elected: this is because he was vice president when President McKinley was assassinated and only took office according to Article II of the Constitution. President Kennedy was the youngest president to be elected to office, being 43 years and 236 days old when he was inaugurated in 1961.
Oldest At Time of Inauguration
Ahhh yes, our beloved President Reagan. He was like a grandfather to our country. I mean, that’s what I hear…I wasn’t alive at the time. Anyways, he was inaugurated in 1981 when he was 69 years and 349 days old.
Most Attempted Assassinations
Who would have guessed? To be fair, I did not include alleged foiled plots or rednecks talking about how they’d like to kill President Obama in my count, and I did include crazy people walking up to the White House fence and shooting a ton of bullets towards the building in my count.
President Clinton was targeted three known times: once when a crazy guy tried to fly his plane into the White House (Clinton wasn’t even there), once six weeks later when a crazy guy fired 29 rounds over the White House fence (Clinton was inside), and once when a bomb was found under a bridge in Manila that the presidential motorcade was planning on travelling over.
President Bush was also targeted three times…well, four if you count the shoe-throwing incident. The first was when another crazy guy shot over the White House fence. The second was when a group of Middle Eastern men approached a resort that the president was staying at in Florida, claiming to have a “poolside interview” with him; they were turned away because they didn’t have an appointment. Oh, and by the way…that happened on the morning of September 11th, 2001. The third was when a live grenade was thrown on stage during a speech in Tbilisi, Georgia; luckily, the person had wrapped the grenade so tight that the spoon did not pop off the grenade and ignite the fuse.
Other noteworthy facts: Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy are the only presidents to be assassinated in office. President Reagan is the only president to have been wounded and survive an assassination attempt.
Longest Term in Office
FDR was elected to four terms in office and is the only president to serve more than the 2,922 days of two normal presidential terms. However, he would die of a stroke on the 83rd day of his fourth term, bringing his total number of days in office to 4,422. Unless the 22nd Amendment is changed or repealed, he will forever be America’s longest serving president.
Shortest Term in Office
President Harrison famously died after contracting pneumonia; he served only 31 days in office.
Longest Presidential Lifespan
Both President Reagan and President Ford had incredible longevity, living to be 93 years old; however, Ford lived to be 45 days older than Reagan, being 93 years and 165 days old when he died in 2006.
Shortest Presidential Lifespan
Having been assassinated before the end of his first term, he was one of only two presidents to not live to see his 50th birthday, dying at the age of 46 years and 177 days. President Garfield lived to be 49 years and 304 days old and was also assassinated while in office.
President Carter only served for one term and has had the longest time alive after leaving office, and the age of 88, his retirement is ongoing; as of this writing, he has been out of office for 11,717 days.
President Polk had the misfortune of contracting cholera after leaving office; his retirement lasted only 103 days.
President Buchanan, widely considered to be among the worst presidents in history due to his failure to prevent the collapse of the Union, had 6 sisters and 4 brothers.
A total of four presidents have had no siblings, but cannot be considered to be only children; Presidents Washington, FDR, Clinton, and Obama all have at least one half-sibling.
The Worst Ever
According to regular rankings by historians and political scientists, Presidents Johnson, Buchanan, and Harding are considered to be the third, second, and worst president respectfully out of the 43 ranked. Johnson succeeded Lincoln after his assassination, and was almost removed from office for his poor handling of the post-war Reconstruction; Buchanan basically failed to prevent the Civil War from happening in the first place; and Harding’s administration was so saturated with corruption and scandal that suicide and poison have both been considered possible causes of his premature death in office.
The Best Ever
No surprises here. Washington, FDR, and Lincoln are considered to be the third, second, and very best presidents respectfully that we have ever had. Washington led the Continental Army to victory and presided over the period immediately following the adoption of the US Constitution; Roosevelt enacted welfare measures to help a desperate country, then mobilized the United States to lead us out of the Great Depression and onward to total victory in WWII; and Lincoln defeated the Confederacy, preserved the Union, and ended slavery. His legend was cemented when he was martyred for the cause of liberty.
For more information about presidential rankings, click here.