Today (June 14, 2020), President Donald Trump celebrates his 74th birthday. One of my best (and only) party tricks is being able to name all the U.S. presidents in order, forward and backward. I seldom go to parties, however, so I have not had many occasions to use the party trick. As I am wont to do, however, I digress. In light of the foregoing, I thought that it would be fitting and proper to celebrate President Trump’s birthday by regaling you, our readers, with president birthday facts.
President Birthday Facts
Below, I list some interesting president birthday facts. Although I knew a few off the top of my head, I consulted a couple of sources to confirm the details and to look up some other interesting numbers. First, I consulted PresidentsUSA.net for a handy chart listing the dates of birth and dates of death for each president. Second, I used a chart from Wikipedia for the ages of presidents at the time they left office.
Septuagenarian President Birthdays
President Donald Trump was 70 when he was sworn into office. He is only the third President to have celebrated a seventh-decade birthday while in office. Ronald Reagan turned 70 on February 6, 1981, just 17 days into his first term. Dwight Eisenhower turned 70 on October 14, 1960, just three months before he left office after serving his second and final term. Our sixth president, Andrew Jackson, warrants honorable mention. He left office on March 4, 1837, just 11 days shy of his 70th birthday. The 9th president, William Henry Harrison (born February 9, 1773), was 68 when he assumed office, but died one month into his presidency.
The Lucky Numbers are 1946, 1924, and 1913
Three of our last four presidents were born in 1946 – President Trump and former presidents Bill Clinton (August 19, 1946) and George W. Bush (July 6, 1946). 1946 is the only year to see the births of three presidents. Former presidents Jimmy Carter (October 1, 1924) and George H.W. Bush (June 12, 1924) share a 1924 year of birth. Before them, Richard Nixon (January 9, 1913) and Gerald Ford (July 14, 1913) shared a 1913 birth date. Thus, 8 out of the last 10 presidents were born in 1913, 1924, or 1946. Ronald Reagan (February 6, 1911) and Barack Obama (August 4, 1961) stand alone.
The Most Patriotic Presidential Birthday
Our second and third presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on July 4, 1826. The fifth president, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831. Adams, Jefferson, and Monroe remain the only three presidents to have died on Independence Day. Less known, however, is that one president was born on July 4. 41 years to the day Monroe breathed his last, John Calvin Coolidge was born in Plymouth, Vermont, on July 4, 1872. John Adams’ own son and the 6th president, John Quincy Adams, was born on July 11, 1767, close to nine years before what would become Independence Day in 1776.
Descending Birthdays, Ascending Presidencies
Perhaps unsurprisingly, no president was born during the Civil War. The closest was the 29th president, Warren G. Harding, who was born on November 2, 1865, nearly 6 months after the war had ended. However, we have a strange sequence of descending births and ascending president numbers dating from right before hostilities commenced. The 27th president, Theodore Roosevelt, was born on October 27, 1858. Just over one year earlier, the 28th president, William Howard Taft, was born on September 15, 1857. Just less than one year before that, the 29th president, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, was born on December 28, 1856. Wilson would be the last president to have been born before the Civil War.
Since I mentioned Warren Harding above, I should note that he is one half of the only pair of presidents to share a birthday. Exactly 70 years to the day before Harding was born, the future 11th president, James Knox Polk, was born on November 2, 1795. However, if you insist on being technical, our 22nd president, Grover Cleveland (born March 18, 1837) and our 24th president, once again Grover Cleveland (born March 18, 1837), were both born on the same day.
Turning Up October
Every month has at least one president’s birthday. Every month except for September (Taft) has seen multiple presidents born. However, there were no presidents born in June until George H.W. Bush, who served as the 42nd President. President Trump joined him as the second president born in June. October stands alone with six presidents having been born in the month: John Adams (October 30, 1735), Rutherford B. Hayes (October 4, 1822), Chester A. Arthur (October 5, 1829), Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858), Dwight Eisenhower, and Jimmy Carter. But despite the numbers, President’s Day is hosted in February thanks to George Washington (February 22, 1732) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809). William Henry Harrison and Ronald Reagan were also born in February.
The Last of the Century
The last president born in the 18th century was the 15th president, James Buchanan. Buchanan was born on April 13, 1791, and served as president from 1857 to 1861, leaving office at the age of 69 years and 315 days. The last president born in the 19th century was the 34th president, Dwight Eisenhower. However, while Eisenhower was not preceded by any presidents born in the 20th century, Buchanan’s two immediate predecessors – Millard Fillmore (born January 7, 1800) and Franklin Pierce (November 23, 1804) – were born in the 1800s.
What Could Have Been
Allow me to cheat and take a look at a couple of election failures. Much has been made of the ages of both President Trump and the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden. Regardless of whether the President or Mr. Biden prevails, we will see the oldest man to win an election in November. At the opposite extreme end of the spectrum, the Democratic nominee in 1896, William Jennings Bryan (born March 19, 1860) was only 36 years old when he was nominated for the first of his three losing bids. In 1904, the Democratic nominee for vice president, Henry G. Davis, became the first, and to this date the only, octogenarian to feature on a major party ticket. Davis, born on November 16, 1823, was 80 when the ticket headed by Alton B. Parker fell in a landslide defeat to Theodore Roosevelt.
Retiring (or in Adams’ case, being retired) at 65 before it was in Vogue
Our first four presidents – George Washington, John Adams (born October 30, 1735), Thomas Jefferson (born April 13, 1743), and James Madison (born March 16, 1751) – all left office after celebrating their 65th birthday. James Monroe (born April 28, 1758), our fifth president, broke the streak, leaving office one week after turning 66.
More a Plug than Fact, But also Fact
John Tyler, born March 29, 1790, became our 10th president due to the untimely death of William Henry Harrison. There is nothing remarkable about Tyler’s date of birth, but I noted in a recent post that he is the earliest president with still surviving grandchildren.