The United States presidency is a demanding job that requires its occupants to be knowledgeable and experienced leaders. Therefore, it’t often that younger people get the opportunity to hold this position. However, on rare occasions, youth has prevailed over experience and age, resulting in a president who is younger than average. The youngest men ever to assume the role of US president were all first-time office holders who had no prior political or military experience.
Some even came directly from their teens into the highest seat of power. The youngest presidents were not just young by today’s standards but by any standards; they were all under the age of 40 when they took office. Each of them experienced some form of career breakthrough before becoming president (usually through family connections), which helped expedite their ascent up the political ladder Below, you will learn about some of the youngest people to become president in American history.
Who is the youngest US president?
Theodore Roosevelt (Republican, 1901-1909) is the youngest person to become president, and the only president to hold the office as a teenager. He succeeded to the presidency when President William McKinley was assassinated on September 14, 1901. Theodore Roosevelt was just 42 years, 244 days old when he was sworn in, making him the youngest person to become president in US history.
Chester A. Arthur (Republican, 1881-1885) is the second-youngest president in history, having been sworn in at age 50. He was vice president under James Garfield, and thus became president when Garfield was assassinated in July 1881. Arthur was in office for only two and a half years, as he died in October 1885.
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy (Democratic, 1961-1963) is the third-youngest president in history. He was less than three months shy of his 43rd birthday when he was inaugurated, making him the youngest elected president in US history. JFK’s short presidency was marred by the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs Invasion, as well as the start of the Space Race. He also increased American involvement in the civil rights movement and signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, at the age of 46.
Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican, 1801-1809) is the second-oldest president in US history, having been born in 1743. He was 67 years, 2 months old when he took office in 1801, making him the second-oldest person ever to assume the presidency. Jefferson’s presidency is best remembered for his Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the US. He also commissioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition and oversaw the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, at the age of 83.
Ronald Reagan (Republican, 1981-1989) is the seventh-youngest president in US history, having been born in 1911. He was just 69 years, 349 days old when he took office in 1981, which makes him the third-youngest president to have ever served as Commander in Chief. Reagan is remembered for ending the Cold War, as well as his “morning in America” economic policies. He also created the Department of Veterans Affairs, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize towards the end of his second term. Reagan died on June 5, 2004, at the age of 93.
Bill Clinton (Democratic, 1993-2001) is the eighth-youngest president in US history. He was 46 years, 122 days old when he took office in 1993—just shy of becoming the youngest president ever. Clinton is best known for his “third-way” approach to politics, which saw him expand the Democratic Party’s voter base by embracing centrist economic policies and New Federalism. He also oversaw the creation of the State Child Health Insurance Program and the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky almost brought his political career to an early end. He finished his second term with a 66% approval rating.
These are the youngest presidents in US history. However, the youngest person ever to assume the role of president was John F. Kennedy, who was a few months shy of his 43rd birthday when he was inaugurated. All of these presidents were first-time officeholders who had no prior political or military experience. Some even came directly from their teens into the highest seat of power. These presidents were not just young by today’s standards but by any standards; they were all under the age of 40 when they took office.