Presidents’ Day Special: It’s A Good Time to Be An Ex-President

The nation has had four living ex-presidents for the last six-plus years for just the second time in history; the current gap of eight-plus years in presidential deaths is the ninth longest on record

presidentialseal10.jpgLast month George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary – continuing to extend their record for the longest marriage of a president and first lady in U.S. history.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are close behind at 68+ years and counting.

Meanwhile, Carter and Walter Mondale have notched the longest post-administration presidential and vice-presidential longevity in history at 34 years and 28 days through Monday.

That’s more than 34 percent longer than the duo with the second longest mark – John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (1801-1826) at 25 years and four months.

There are currently four living ex-presidents for the eighth time in U.S. history – Carter, the elder Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush – but only the second time four have been alive for six-plus consecutive years.

The longest stretch in which four ex-presidents have been alive was the 10 years, 1 month, 15 days between the deaths of Richard Nixon (on April 22, 1994) and Ronald Reagan (on June 5, 2004).

During those 10+ years, Reagan, Gerald Ford, Carter, and the elder Bush were all surviving ex-presidents (with Clinton added as a fifth living member of the club in January 2001).

In short, it has been a good time to be an ex-president in the U.S.

Thirty-eight of the 43 men to serve as president have died with Ford being the last in late December 2006 – 8 years, 1 month, 21 days ago.

While that is not the longest stretch between presidential deaths in U.S. history, it does crack the Top 10.

The longest gap between deaths of sitting or former presidents came between the passing of George Washington (December 14, 1799) and Thomas Jefferson (July 4, 1826).

The country went a total of 26 years, 6 months, 21 days without mourning the loss of one its chief executives.

The twenty-year mark without a presidential death has only been reached one other time – the 21 years, 2 months, 26 days between the deaths of Lyndon Johnson (January 22, 1973) and Richard Nixon (April 22, 1994).

There has been a gap of at least a decade between presidential deaths five other times:

● John Kennedy (November 22, 1963) was assassinated 18 years, 7 months, 11 days after the passing of Franklin Roosevelt (April 12, 1945)

● FDR, meanwhile, had died 12 years, 3 months, 8 days, after Calvin Coolidge (January 5, 1933)

● John Tyler (January 18, 1862) died 11 years, 6 months, 10 days after Zachary Taylor (July 9, 1850)

● Teddy Roosevelt (January 6, 1919) passed 10 years, 6 months, 14 days after Grover Cleveland (June 24, 1908)

● Ronald Reagan (June 5, 2004) died 10 years, 1 month, 15 days after Richard Nixon (April 22, 1994)

The current gap of eight-plus years without a presidential death is the ninth longest in U.S. history, just a few days between the deaths of Rutherford Hayes (January 17, 1893) and Benjamin Harrison (March 13, 1901) – 8 years, 1 month, 25 days.

The average time between presidential deaths in U.S. history has been approximately five and one-half years.

Aside from the five hours famously separating the deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826, five other presidents died within one year of each other.

● Lyndon Johnson (January 22, 1973) died just 28 days after Harry Truman (December 26, 1972)

● William McKinley (September 14, 1901) was assassinated 6 months and 2 days after the passing of Benjamin Harrison (March 13, 1901)

● Woodrow Wilson (February 3, 1924) also died 6 months and 2 days after sitting President Warren Harding (August 2, 1923)

● Martin Van Buren (July 24, 1862) passed 6 months and 7 days after the death of John Tyler (January 18, 1862)

● Herbert Hoover (October 20, 1964) died 10 months and 29 days after the assassination of John Kennedy (November 22, 1963)

The largest number of living ex-presidents at any one time has been five – occurring three times in our nation’s history:

● 1861-1862: With Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan. Van Buren and Tyler both died in 1862.

● 1993-1994: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Nixon died in April 1994.

● 2001-2004: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Reagan died in 2004 and then Ford in 2006.

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