U.S. Record Set for Longest Period without a President Dying in Office

Friday, November 06, 2015
President William Henry Harrison

By being alive on Oct. 29, President Barack Obama helped the United States set a new record for the longest stretch without a president dying in office.


The record was 18,967 days on Oct. 28, which stretched back to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.


The previous mark was 18,966 days from George Washington’s inauguration on April 30, 1789 to William Henry Harrison’s death by pneumonia on April 4, 1841.


One reason for the record is that presidents are younger now. “Carter, [George W.] Bush, Clinton and Obama really bring down the numerical average of the age of presidents,” Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, told Quartz. “The actuaries tell us they’re less likely to die.”


Another reason is better medical care. Ronald Reagan would have probably died from being shot by John Hinckley had it happened just a few decades earlier.


Eight presidents died in office during a span of 122 years, which included three by assassination—Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and William McKinley— during one 36-year stretch.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Today the U.S. Sets a Record for not having a President Die in Office (by Steve Friess, Quartz)

Why We Should Care about the Next Veep (by Michael J. Towle, Baltimore Sun)

By Staying Alive, Obama Helps Break Record (by Max Miceli, U.S. News & World Report)

Don’t Joke About Obama Dying: David R. Stokes (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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