The saying, “Age is but a number,” seems to apply in political contexts as the nation has seen individuals elected in their 50s and 60s. The prominent candidates for this year’s presidential election happened to be some of the oldest candidates yet — with Bernie Sanders at 74, Hillary Clinton at 69 and president-elect Donald Trump at 70. Nonetheless, some of America’s most memorable presidents have been older than most and yet sharp and on top of things.
The top five oldest U.S. presidents are as follows:
- Ronald Reagan — 69 years old at the inauguration, the Republican Party member earned the title of the 40th president of the United States and served eight years in office. He is remembered most for his economic influence in helping bring an end to the Cold War, as well as fulfilling his goal of achieving “peace through strength” and restoring “the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism.”
- William Henry Harrison — Harrison is the ninth and one of the oldest U.S. presidents; he entered office at age 68. Nationalistic in his outlook, he emphasized his obedience to the will of the people as expressed through Congress, but unfortunately did not have the chance to carry out his plans, only serving in office for one month before getting sick with pneumonia and dying shortly after.
- James Buchanan — James Buchanan entered the White House at 65 and served as the 15th president for four years. He is often acknowledged for his pro-slavery stance, which led to increased unrest between the North and South.
- George H.W. Bush — George H.W. Bush, 41st president and father to George W. Bush, is the only one of the top five oldest U.S. presidents who is still alive. Elected at age 64, he is known for his determination to make the U.S. “a kinder and gentler nation” in the face of a dramatically changing world and loyalty to traditional American values.
- Zachary Taylor — Taylor is the 12th president of the U.S. and also entered office at 64. Taylor represented the Whig Party, which advocated for national improvement projects and criticized the growth of executive power in response to the authoritarian policies of Democratic President Andrew Jackson. As a general in the U.S. Army, Taylor is famous for victories in the Mexican-American War.
Though age does play a part in voters’ decision-making, it did not seem to keep these individuals from being elected or hinder their large actions concerning the well-being of America. The men described possessed standout qualifications and had significant accomplishments that portrayed them as fit for office and capable of leading a great country.
– Mikaela Frigillana