The answer, of course, is Ronald Reagan, inaugurated Jan 20, 1981 at 69. He turns 73 today Feb. 6. Now that he’s officially a candidate for re-election, Reagan has a chance at stretching the age distinction by four years.
Before Reagan became the 40th president, the age record belonged to the ninth president, William Henry Harrison, who was 68 at inauguration March 4, 1841.
Harrison, you will remember from history, served as president the shortest time, only one month. He died of pneumonia.
A few age comparisons: Dwight Eisenhower was 66 to start his second term, James Buchanan was elected at 65, Zachary Taylor at 64.
Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, at 42, was the youngest to become president, succeeding to this post upon the assassination death of William McKinley in 1901. He was elected to a term of his own in 1904.
John F. Kennedy was 43 when he became the youngest person ELECTED president. His assassination at 46 made him the president who lived the shortest number of years.
On the other end of the spectrum, John Adams and Herbert Hoover lived the longest. Each died at 90.
Franklin D. Roosevelt served the longest tenure in office – 12 years, 1 month, 8 days. Elected a record four times, he died early in his fourth term.
We have mentioned the oldest and youngest presidents. By far the largest number of chief executives were in their 50s when inaugurated. George Washington was 57; Abraham Lincoln, 52.
Only a relatively few have been in their 40s – Ulysses S. Grant, 46; Grover Cleveland, 47; Franklin Pearce, 48; James A. Garfield and James Polk, 49; Kennedy, and Theodore Roosevelt.
How much of an issue will be made of Reagan’s age in the 1984 campaign? Only time can tell. The President himself frequently has joked about his age. Perhaps, in this, he has sought to defuse serious focus on the subject. The lengthening life expectancy trend already has done that to some extent.