Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Who was both oldest former US President and oldest former Vice-President, but not at the same time?

Last week I posed a wee question on social media: Who was both the oldest former President of the United States, and the oldest former Vice-President, but not at the same time?

Lots of people scratched their heads over this, which was gratifying, and the answer is admittedly a bit obscure.

Below is the full list of people who were the oldest former President of the United States, and the oldest former Vice-President, at all times since the terms of the first holders of both offices ended on 4 March 1797. I have put in bold the cases where a President or Veep who was older than all their living predecessors (if any) left office at the end of their term. In all other cases, the distinction is transmitted through mortality.

You'll see that since 1797, there have been five intervals when there were no living former Presidents, and two when there were no living former Vice-Presidents. There were no living ex-Presidents 1) between the death of Washington and the end of John Adams' term; 2) between the death of Andrew Johnson and the end of Grant's term; 3) between the death of Cleveland and the end of Theodore Roosevelt's term; 4) between the death of Coolidge and the end of Hoover's term; and 5) between the death of Lyndon Johnson and Nixon's resignation.

More obscurely, there were no living Vice-Presidents between 1) the death of Hannibal Hamlin and the end of Levi P. Morton's term, and 2) between the death of Levi P. Morton and the end of Thomas R. Marshall's term.

John Adams, Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and the elder George Bush were all both the oldest former President of the United States, and the oldest former Vice-President, at the same time. (In all cases except Nixon, they held both distinctions at the time of their deaths.)

John Quincy Adams, William Howard Taft and Charles G.Dawes all appear twice in their respective columns, having been succeeded in their offices by older men who they then outlived.

The otherwise rather obscure Levi P. Morton outlived six younger successors as Vice-President. I think that is a record.

And the answer to the question, "Who was both the oldest former President of the United States, and the oldest former Vice-President, but not at the same time?"

It's Calvin Coolidge.

He was elected Vice-President on the same ticket as Warren Harding in 1920, and took office in 1921. When Harding died in 1923, Coolidge became president and the only other living former vice-president was his immediate predecessor Thomas R. Marshall, who was older than him. Marshall died in 1925, making Coolidge not just the oldest living former vice-president but the only one. Coolidge's own vice-president, Charles G. Dawes, was older than him, so when their term ended in 1929, Dawes took over the mantle of oldest former Vice-President from him.

At that point the only living former presidents were Coolidge himself and William Howard Taft. When Taft died in 1930, Coolidge became the oldest former president until his own death in 1933, after which there were no living former presidents until Herbert Hoover's term ended two months later. (Hoover lived another thirty years.)

If you spot any mistakes below, please yell.

Oldest Living
Ex-President
Date range
Oldest Living
Ex-Vice President
Date range
George Washington 4 March 1797 – 14 December 1799 . John Adams 4 March 1797 – 4 July 1826
No living ex-Presidents 14 December 1799 – 4 March 1801 .
John Adams 4 March 1801 – 4 July 1826 .
James Madison 4 July 1826 – 28 June 1836 . Aaron Burr 4 July 1826 – 14 September 1836
John Quincy Adams 28 June 1836 – 4 March 1837 .
. John C. Calhoun September 14, 1836 – 4 March 1841
Andrew Jackson 4 March 1837 – 8 June 1845 .
. Richard Mentor Johnson 4 March 1841 – 19 November 1850
John Quincy Adams 8 June 1845 – 23 February 1848 .
Martin Van Buren 23 February 1848 – 24 July 1862 .
. Martin Van Buren 19 November 1850 – 24 July 1862
James Buchanan 24 July 1862 – 1 June 1868 . George Dallas 24 July 1862 – 31 December 1864
. Millard Fillmore 31 December 1864 – 8 March 1874
Millard Fillmore 1 June 1868 – 8 March 1874 .
Andrew Johnson . 8 March 1874 – 31 July 1875
No living ex-Presidents 31 July 1875 – 4 March 1877 . Hannibal Hamlin 31 July 1875 – 4 July 1891
Ulysses S. Grant 4 March 1877 – 23 July 1885 .
Rutherford B. Hayes 23 July 1885 – 17 January 1893 .
. No living ex-Veeps 4 July 1891 – 4 March 1893
Grover Cleveland 17 January 1893 – 4 March 1893 .
Benjamin Harrison 4 March 1893 – 13 March 1901 . Levi P. Morton 4 March 1893 – 16 May 1920
Grover Cleveland 13 March 1901 – 24 June 1908 .
No living ex-Presidents 24 June 1908 – 4 March 1909 .
Theodore Roosevelt 4 March 1909 – 4 March 1913 .
William Howard Taft 4 March 1913 ​– 4 March 1921 .
. No living ex-Veeps 16 May 1920 – 4 March 1921
Woodrow Wilson 4 March 1921 – 3 February 1924 . Thomas R. Marshall 4 March 1921 – 1 June 1925
William Howard Taft 3 February 1924 – 8 March 1930 .
. Calvin Coolidge 1 June 1925 – 4 March 1929
. Charles G. Dawes 4 March 19294 March 1933
Calvin Coolidge 8 March 1930 – 5 January 1933 .
No living ex-Presidents 5 January 1933 – 4 March 1933 .
Herbert Hoover 4 March 1933 – 20 October 1964 . Charles Curtis 4 March 1933 – 8 February 1936
. Charles G. Dawes 8 February 1936 – 23 April 1951
. John Nance Garner 23 April 1951 – 7 November 1967
Harry S. Truman 20 October 1964 – 26 December 1972 .
. Harry S. Truman 7 November 1967 – 26 December 1972
Lyndon B. Johnson . 26 December 1972 – 22 January 1973
No living ex-Presidents 22 January 1973 – 9 August 1974 . Hubert Humphrey 22 January 1973 – 20 January 1977
Richard Nixon 9 August 197420 January 1989 .
. Nelson Rockefeller 20 January 1977 – 26 January 1979
. Richard Nixon 26 January 1979 – 22 April 1994
Ronald Reagan 20 January 1989 – 5 June 2004 .
. Gerald Ford 22 April 1994 – 26 December 2006
Gerald Ford 5 June 2004 – 26 December 2006 .
George H. W. Bush . 26 December 2006 – 30 November 2018
Jimmy Carter Since 30 November 2018 . Walter Mondale Since 30 November 2018
Tags: history: usa
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