Presidents: Key Dates and Various Trivia

This is meant to be a handy source for readers who are interested in such things as the age of a president upon taking office, the length of time lived after leaving office, place of birth, religious affiliation, and more. There are four sections:

Section 1 — which is split into three parts for ease of reading — lists the presidents in the order in which they took office.

Section 2 consists of trivial facts ranging from the frequency of birth years to the electoral experience of modern presidents.

Section 3 summarizes electoral results since the formation of the GOP in 1856, and shows how the results in a small number of States affected the outcomes of recent presidential elections.

See also “The Modern Presidency: From TR to DJT” for a narrative evaluation of the presidencies from Theodore Roosevelt’s to Donald J. Trump’s.

SECTION 1 — IN 3 PARTS, EACH ARRANGED IN ORDER OF ASCENSION TO THE PRESIDENCY

Key date:

Place of birth and religion:

 

Deceased (listed in order of age at death):

SECTION 2 — TRIVIA

Frequency of Birth Years

The year which saw the births of the most presidents is 1946: Clinton, G.W. Bush and Trump. There was a 24-year span between the inauguration of Clinton (the second-youngest elected president) and Trump (the oldest elected president).

 

Recurring First Names

Eight different first names appear more than once in the list of presidents. Here are the names (listed in order of first appearance), with the middle and last names of the presidents to which the names are attached:

Presidents-repeated first names

Stephen counts as a multiple entry because, officially, Cleveland is the 22nd and 24th president. (Note that I carefully opened this section with the statement that “Eight different first names appear more than once in the list of presidents.”

The unique first names (unique to a president, that is) are Martin, Zachary, Millard, Abraham, Ulysses (born Hiram), Rutherford, Chester, Benjamin, Theodore, Warren, Harry, Dwight (born David), Lyndon, Richard, Gerald (born Leslie), Ronald, Barack, Donald, and Joseph.

First Letter of Last Name — Number of Occurrences of Each

Counting Cleveland only once, and assigning V to Van Buren and M to McKinley (à l’américaine), here’s how many times each letter of he alphabet occurs as the first letter of a president’s last name:

 

You will note that several letters are as yet unused: D, I, Q, S, U, X, Y, and Z.

Deaths During the Administrations of Sitting Presidents

The chart below depicts the death years of presidents. The years are plotted in a saw-tooth pattern, from left to right — row 1, row 2, row 3, row 4, row 5, row 1, row 2, etc. The vertical green and white bands delineate presidential administrations. Washington’s is the first green band, followed by a white band for John Adams, and so on.

Many administrations didn’t experience any presidential deaths. Those administrations with more than one presidential death are as follows:

  • John Quincy Adams — Thomas Jefferson and John Adams
  • Andrew Jackson — James Monroe and James Madison
  • Abraham Lincoln — John Tyler, Martin Van Buren, and Abraham Lincoln (I consider the death of a sitting president to have occurred during his administration.)
  • Ulysses S. Grant — Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, and Andrew Johnson
  • Grover Cleveland (first administration) — Ulysses S. Grant and Chester Alan Arthur
  • William McKinley — Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley
  • Herbert C. Hoover — William Howard Taft and Calvin Coolidge
  • Richard M. Nixon — Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson
  • George W. Bush — Ronald W. Reagan and Gerald R. Ford.

Living Ex-Presidents at the Start of Each Administration

Lincoln, Clinton, G.W. Bush, Trump, and Biden are tied for the most living ex-presidents (5 each):

 

Heights

No one has yet equaled or surpassed Lincoln’s 6’4″. Next are LBJ at 6’3″; Jefferson at 6’2-1/2″; Washington, FDR, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, and Trump at 6’3″. Rounding out the 6′ and over list are Jackson, Reagan, and Obama at 6’1″; and Monroe, Buchanan, Garfield, Harding, Kennedy, and Biden at 6′.

 

Electoral Experience of Modern Presidents

The modern presidency began with the adored “activist”, Teddy Roosevelt. From TR to the present, there have been only four (of twenty-one) presidents who first competed in a general election as a candidate for the presidency: Taft, Hoover, Eisenhower, and Trump. Trump was alone in having had no previous governmental service before becoming president.

SECTION 4 –ELECTORAL RESULTS AND PROSPECTS

The results of general elections since the birth of the Republican Party in 1856:

 

Note the unusual era from 1952 through 1988, when Republican presidential candidates outpolled their congressional counterparts.

The table below compares the GOP candidates’ shares of the two-party vote, by State, in the presidential elections of 2012, 2016, and 2020. The changes from 2012 to 2016 that resulted in the election of Trump are highlighted in red. In sum, Trump won by flipping Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The official (but still disputed) changes from 2016 to 2020 that resulted in the election of Biden are highlighted in blue. In sume, Biden won by reversing Trump’s wins in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and by flipping Arizona and Georgia.