- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Ronald Reagan turns 91 today, a record in the annals of American presidents.

No other former chief executive has celebrated four score years plus eleven, although John Adams came close, living 90 years and slightly more than eight months.

Some of the presidents who lived lengthy lives were among the first to hold office, with Thomas Jefferson reaching 83 and dying on the same day as Adams: July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the approval of the Declaration of Independence. James Madison lived to be 85, John Quincy Adams 80, and Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, 78 and 79, respectively. George Washington was 67 when he died.

Another close rival to Mr. Reagan, one of the most successful recent presidents, in the longevity record is Herbert Hoover (age 90), who held office during the onset of the Great Depression. Harry S. Truman, who ordered the atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima, lived to 88.

Two of the presidents who lived in the mid-19th century were middle-age at the time of the their death. James K. Polk, one of the hardest-working chief executives, died a few months after his one term in office, at age 53; Chester Alan Arthur died at 56. Several were in their sixties: Zachary Taylor (65), Franklin Pierce (64), Andrew Johnson (66), Ulysses Grant (63) and Benjamin Harrison (67).

William Henry Harrison was second only to Mr. Reagan in terms of his advanced age at the time of his inauguration (Harrison, 68, Mr. Reagan, 69). Harrison died within a month after taking office.

Some of the best-known 20th-century presidents did not live lengthy lives. Theodore Roosevelt was 60 when he died, as was Calvin Coolidge. Franklin Roosevelt died in office at 63. Warren Harding died in office at 57. Lyndon Johnson died at 64, four years after leaving office. And Woodrow Wilson, who was an invalid in the White House after his stroke in October 1919, was 67 when he died less than three years after leaving office.

Mr. Reagan holds one other footnote in the annals of presidential longevity. He was the chief executive who broke in 1980 a cycle of death for presidents elected in 1840, 1860, 1880, 1900, 1920, 1940, and 1960. Every president coming to office after each of these seven elections died in office, either by natural causes or by assassination.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide