The modern presidency began with the adored “activist”, Teddy Roosevelt. From TR to the present, there have been only four (of twenty) presidents who first competed in a general election as a candidate for the presidency: Taft, Hoover, Eisenhower, and Trump. Trump is alone in having had no previous governmental service before becoming president. There’s no moral to this story. Make of it what you will.
(See also “Presidents: Key Dates and Various Trivia“, to which this commentary has been added.)
George Herbert Walker Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018) is the new leader in the clubhouse. That is to say, he is now the oldest member of the Dead Presidents Club, at the age of 94.47 years.
GHWB replaced Gerald Ford, who made it to 93.45. Ford replaced Ronald Reagan, who made it to 93.33.
Jimmy (now 94.17) will replace GHWB if he lives to March 25, 2019.
John Adams (90.67) and Herbert Hoover (90.19) are the other occupants of the club’s exclusive 90+ room. As many members of the club (5) lived into their 90s as lived into their 80s.
Will Jimmy make it 6 to 5, or will he become the club’s first centenarian? He already holds the record for having outlived his presidency. He’s almost at the 38-year mark, well beyond Hoover’s 31.63. The only president of the past half-century who was worse than Carter is Obama, who will probably break Carter’s miserable record for post-presidential pestilence.
For more in this vein, see the updated version of “Presidents: Key Dates and Various Trivia“.
George Washington couldn’t tell a lie. Bill Clinton couldn’t tell the truth.
Teddy Roosevelt believed in talking softly but carrying a big stick. FDR carried the big stick. LBJ threw away the stick. Obama found the stick, broke it, and replaced it with a pea-shooter.
Calvin Coolidge said that the business of America is business, but it didn’t take long for FDR to change that. Now, the business of Americans is the government’s business.
JFK told Americans to ask what they could do for their country. LBJ told them what to do: Pay more taxes and support the shiftless.
I drew on on “Facts about Presidents” to compile some more trivia. These trivia pertain to the deaths of presidents. Let’s start with this table, which lists the presidents in the order in which they died and gives the gap (in years) between their deaths:
The gap between the deaths of Washington and Jefferson is 26.55 years, and so on down the list. It happens that the first gap is the longest one. The next longest gap is the 21.25 years between the deaths of LBJ and Nixon. (Aside: When LBJ died in January 1973, Nixon continued a precedent established by Truman after the death of FDR and declared a national day mourning for LBJ. The declaration meant a day of paid leave for federal employees and contractors. Many said that it was the best thing LBJ did for them.)
The chart below depicts the death years of presidents. The years are plotted in a saw-tooth pattern, from left to right: row 1 (bottom row), row 2, row 3, row 4, row 5, row 6, row 1, row 2, etc. (If you’re uncertain about the interpretation of the initials, see the key at the bottom of this post.) 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. (For a sequential list of administrations, see the table later in this post. For exact dates of administrations and deaths, see “Facts about Presidents.”)
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.
What about the number of ex-presidents living during the administrations of sitting presidents? Lincoln, Clinton, and G.W. Bush are tied for the most living ex-presidents (5 each):
KEY TO PRESIDENTS’ INITIALS: