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Barack Obama Turns 49 On August 4—Here Are Our Youngest Presidents

(Blogger’s Note–This is a post from late 2007. With President Obama turning 49 tomorrow, I thought it would be a good time to run the post again.)

With much discussion of the relative youth of Senator Barack Obama, who is 46, here is a list of U.S. Presidents who have taken office in their 40’s with their age and year they were sworn in. Also included are the more notable aspects in the careers of our youngest Presidents before reaching the White House and a very brief account of their time in the White House.

(Above–Birthplace of U.S. Grant in Point Pleasant, Ohio)

The links for the Presidents are to the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. The information on the Presidents is first-rate and well worth taking time to review and study

James Polk, 49, 1845

Polk served  two years in the Tennessee House, two years as Governor of Tennessee and 14 years in the U.S House. For four years Polk was Speaker of the U.S. House.

Polk was an aggressive President in terms of territorial expansion of the United States. He acquired Oregon by treaty and much of Mexico by force in the Mexican-American War. He was not very helpful if you were a slave or a Native American. Some say Polk was too quick to go to war with Mexico.

Franklin Pierce, 48, 1853

Pierce served four years in the New Hampshire House, four years in the U.S. House and five years in the U.S. Senate.

Pierce is considered one of our worst Presidents for his inability to deal effectively with the tensions between the North and South. 65 year old James Buchanan did little better as Pierce’s successor.

Ulysses Grant, 46, 1869

Grant spent 15 years in the army and led the Union army in the Civil War. Grant was also Secretary of War in 1867 and ’68 under Andrew Johnson.

The common view of Grant is that though Grant was not personally corrupt, he led a corrupt administration.

James Garfield, 49, 1881

Garfield spent 17 years in the U.S House from Ohio. He was the chairman of a number of House committees over that time. Garfield saw combat in the Civil War and reached the rank of Major General.

Garfield was shot and killed nine months after becoming President.

Grover Cleveland 47, 1885

Cleveland had been an Assistant District Attorney of Erie County New York, Sheriff of Erie County and Mayor of Buffalo. He was Governor of New York for two years.

Cleveland , in my view, should be known best for his refusal to aid struggling farmers and for his allegiance to Gilded Age politics.

Theodore Roosevelt 42, 1901

The youngest President, Roosevelt had the experience of two years in the New York House, six years on the U.S. Civil Service Commission and two years as Police Commissioner of New York City.  He was also an Assistant Secretary of the Navy under William McKinley, Governor of New York for two years and Vice President for McKinley for just over six months before McKinley was assassinated.

Roosevelt was our first “progressive” President. He expanded the reach of government into health and safety regulation. He also was a major behind-the-scenes player in a revolution in Panama that allowed the United States to acquire the land for the Panama Canal.  Roosevelt was always doped up on his own testosterone so it is hard to know if he ever matured at any point in his life.

John Kennedy 43, 1961

Kennedy served in WW II, was elected to three terms in the U.S. House from Massachusetts and was a member of the U.S. Senate for 8 years.

Kennedy’s Presidency was cut short. he began a number of the liberal reforms that were carried on by Lyndon Johnson.

Bill Clinton 46, 1993

Clinton had been Attorney General of Arkansas for two years and Governor of that state for ten years.

Everybody has their own view of Bill Clinton.

Our youngest Vice President was John Breckinridge of Kentucky. Breckinridge was 36 when sworn-in in 1857 to serve with President Buchanan. After his one term in office, Breckinridge served as a General in the Confederate Army. Before the Vice Presidency, Breckinridge had been an officer in the Mexican-American War and a member of the Kentucky House and the U.S. House.

William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska is the youngest major party nominee for the Presidency. Bryan was 36 when he won the Democratic nomination in 1896. Bryan had served two terms in the U.S. House.

Senator Obama would be 47 on Inauguration Day 2009. He served eight years in the Illinois Senate and by 2009 would have four years in the U.S. Senate.

(Below—Polk’s Tomb in Nashville. Youth is fleeting.)

August 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Youngest Presidents And What They Did Before Reaching The White House

 

With much discussion of the relative youth of Senator Barack Obama, who is 46, here is a list of U.S. Presidents who have taken office in their 40’s with their age and year they were sworn in. Also included are the more notable aspects in the careers of our youngest Presidents before reaching the White House.

The links are to the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. The information on the Presidents is first-rate and well worth taking time to review and study 

James Polk, 49, 1845

Polk served  two years in the Tennessee House, two years as Governor of Tennessee and 14 years in the U.S House. For four years Polk was Speaker of the U.S. House.

Polk was an aggressive President in terms of territorial expansion of the United States. He acquired Oregon by treaty and much of Mexico by force in the Mexican-American War. He was not very helpful if you were a slave or a Native American. Some say Polk was too quick to go to war with Mexico.

(The picture above is of Polk’s Tomb in Nashville. Youth is fleeting.)    

Franklin Pierce, 48, 1853

Pierce served four years in the New Hampshire House, four years in the U.S. House and five years in the U.S. Senate.

Pierce is considered one of our worst Presidents for his inability to deal effectively with the tensions between the North and South. 65 year old James Buchanan did little better as Pierce’s successor.

Ulysses Grant, 46, 1869

Grant spent 15 years in the army and led the Union army in the Civil War. Grant was also Secretary of War in 1867 and ’68 under Andrew Johnson.

The common view of Grant is that though Grant was not personally corrupt, he led a corrupt administration.  

James Garfield, 49, 1881

Garfield spent 17 years in the U.S House from Ohio. He was the chairman of a number of House committees over that time. Garfield saw combat in the Civil War and reached the rank of Major General.

Garfield was shot and killed nine months after becoming President.   

Grover Cleveland 47, 1885

Cleveland had been an Assistant District Attorney of Erie County New York, Sheriff of Erie County and Mayor of Buffalo. He was Governor of New York for two years.

Cleveland , in my view, should be known best for his refusal to aid struggling farmers and for his allegiance to Gilded Age politics. 

Theodore Roosevelt 42, 1901

The youngest President, Roosevelt had the experience of two years in the New York House, six years on the U.S. Civil Service Commission and two years as Police Commissioner of New York City.  He was also an Assistant Secretary of the Navy under William McKinley, Governor of New York for two years and Vice President for McKinley for just over six months before McKinley was assassinated.    

Roosevelt was our first “progressive” President. He expanded the reach of government into health and safety regulation. He also was a major behind-the-scenes player in a revolution in Panama that allowed the United States to acquire the land for the Panama Canal.  Roosevelt was always doped up on his own testosterone so it is hard to know if he ever matured at any point in his life.        

John Kennedy 43, 1961

Kennedy served in WW II, was elected to three terms in the U.S. House from Massachusetts and was a member of the U.S. Senate for 8 years. 

Kennedy’s Presidency was cut short. In at least some respects, Kennedy, based on reports in the years since his death of risky relationships with women after reaching the White House, does not seem to ever fully grown up.

Bill Clinton 46, 1993 

Clinton had been Attorney General of Arkansas for two years and Governor of that state for ten years.

Everybody has their own view of Bill Clinton. 

Our youngest Vice President was John Breckinridge of Kentucky. Breckinridge was 36 when sworn-in in 1857 to serve with President Buchanan. After his one term in office, Breckinridge served as a General in the Confederate Army. Before the Vice Presidency, Breckinridge had been an officer in the Mexican-American War and a member of the Kentucky House and the U.S. House.  

William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska is the youngest major party nominee for the Presidency. Bryan was 36 when he won the Democratic nomination in 1896. Bryan had served two terms in the U.S. House.  

Senator Obama would be 47 on Inauguration Day 2009. He served eight years in the Illinois Senate and by 2009 would have four years in the U.S. Senate.  

A few observations—

It’s interesting that six of the eight Presidents who assumed office in their 40’s, were sworn in between 1845 and 1901.

Since 1901, life expectancies have gone way up. A man born in 1900 had a life expectancy of 47. Senator Obama’s 47 is not the 47 of Grover Cleveland in 1889. Milestones in life and other accomplishments now often come later in life.

That said, Mr. Obama might help you when you are down-and-out while President Cleveland did little for people in his day who needed help.   

Bottom line? I don’t think the record shows a great deal of difference between older and younger Presidents. George W. Bush, now 60, is not mature and does not make wise decisions even after seven years as President.         

I don’t view Senator Obama as being either young or inexperienced for the job. Beliefs and ability are what matters. 

December 19, 2007 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Oldest Presidential Nominees

Who have been the oldest candidates for President? 

Senator John McCain will be 72 on Election Day 2008. This makes him the second oldest first-time major party nominee in Presidential election history. Here are first-time major party Presidential nominees nominated at age 65 or older. Listed after the name is the candidate’s age on Election Day and the year of the election. At the end of each listing is the lifespan of the candidate.    

( Please click here for a list of the youngest Presidents)

Bob Dole

1. Bob Dole 73,1996–Senator Dole finally got his turn as Republican nominee. Lost to Bill Clinton. ( 1923- )

2. John McCain, 72, 2008—Republican running against man who would be one of our youngest Presidents. (1936-)

3. Ronald Reagan,  69, 1980—Oldest man to win a Presidential election. Renominated at age 73. This Republican beat Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Walter Mondale in 1984. (1911-2004)

Staute of William Henry Harrison in Downtown Cincinnati

4. William Henry Harrison, 67, 1840–Harrison ran as regional nominee of Whigs as part of a failed plan to defeat Martin Van Buren in 1836. In 1840 Harrison was nominee of entire party. He was elected but died one month into his term. Beat Mr. Van Buren. (1773-1841)

Lewis Cass

5. Lewis Cass, 66, 1848—Democrat was longtime territorial Governor of Michigan and a Secretary of War to Andrew Jackson. Lost to Whig Zachary Taylor. (1782-1866)

6. James Buchanan, 65, 1856—A Democrat who would have been a lousy President at any age. Watched helplessly as Union fell apart.  Defeated Republican John Fremont.  (1791-1868)

Others have reached age 65 in the years between a first nomination and a subsequent nomination.

These men are—

George H.W. Bush—68 when renominated in 1992. Lost to then Governor Clinton  ( 1924- )

Henry Clay—67 at time of final failed attempt in 1844. Lost to James Polk. (1777-1852)

Dwight Eisenhower 66 when winning second term in 1956 . Beat Adlai Stevenson. (1890-1969)

Andrew Jackson—65 for second term win in 1832. Beat Henry Clay. ( 1767-1845)

John Adams—65 in failed 1800 reelection bid. Lost to Thomas Jefferson. (1735-1826)

(Please click here for a list of the best popular vote totals in a Presidential election.)

July 28, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Another Statue Of James Garfield Attacked In Ohio

A sandstone statue carved in the image of President James A. Garfield is shown Friday, May 15, 2009, on the campus of Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. Someone has beheaded a statue just a day after it was dedicated Thursday.

A statue of President James Garfield had been beheaded at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio.

Here is the link for Hiram College.

Above you see a picture of the headless statue.

Here is a report on the issue from the Zanesville Times-Recorder.

Last year this blog reported that I know who spray-painted the anarchy symbol 15 years ago on the statue of James Garfield  in Downtown Cincinnati. Look at the base at the statue and you can still see where the symbol was painted.

It’s crazy. It seems that every 15 years or so someone in Ohio attacks a statue of James Garfield.

What can be done to stop these attacks! In 2024 another one of these monuments may well be assaulted.

Here is very good information about James Garfield. Mr. Garfield was our 20th President. He served only in 1881 because he was both sworn-in and assassinated in that year. 

The link above is from the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.

From Mr. Garfield’s Miller Center profile—

The youngest of five children born on a poor farm on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio, Garfield is perhaps the poorest man ever to have become President. Supporting himself as a part-time teacher, a carpenter, and even a janitor through college, he was an idealistic young man who identified with the antislavery tenants of the new Republican Party. Garfield studied law on his own and passed the Ohio bar exams in 1861 before throwing himself into politics and winning a seat in the Ohio legislature. Garfield was a loyal Unionist who built a reputation as a Civil War hero that earned him a seat in the House of Representatives without ever having campaigned……Since Garfield was struck down four months into his term, historians can only speculate as to what his presidency might have been like. Garfield was assassinated by Charles Julius Guiteau, an emotionally disturbed man who had failed to gain an appointment in Garfield’s administration. Garfield did have time to appoint his cabinet, however, and in doing so, he refused to cave in to Stalwart pressure, enraging Senator Conkling, who resigned in protest. Had Garfield served his term, historians speculate that he would have been determined to move toward civil service reform and carry on in the clean government tradition of President Hayes. He also supported education for black southerners and called for African American suffrage, as he stressed in his inaugural address. Unfortunately, he is best remembered for his assassination. And although his killer was insane, Garfield’s greatest legacy was the impact of his death on moving the nation to reform government patronage.”

I will say, as much as I like the Miller Center for information about the Presidents,I doubt Mr. Garfield would have done as much for black folks as it is suggested here. Reconstruction-era Presidents talked a good game. But in most cases they did not deliver. 

Here is a useful history of Reconstruction from PBS.

May 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments