Biden Will Be the Oldest President to Take the Oath. Who Were the Youngest and Oldest?


When Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes the oath of office on Wednesday, he will be the oldest person ever sworn in as president. Mr. Biden turned 78 in November.

During the campaign, Mr. Biden addressed his age head-on in interviews and presented himself as a “transition candidate” who would help nurture new Democratic talent.

“It’s a legitimate question to ask about my age,” Mr. Biden said on “The View,” adding, “Hopefully, I can demonstrate not only with age has come wisdom and experience that can make things a lot better.”

Mr. Biden leveraged his age as a strength in the election and campaigned on two key messages, according to one historical expert.

“The first one: ‘I am not him,’ meaning Trump,” Jeffrey A. Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said on Wednesday. “The second was, ‘I am an adult and I will bring back normalcy and I will bring back a sense of decency and demonstrate maturity.’”

Here is a look at some of the oldest and youngest presidents to take office.

Until Mr. Biden is sworn in on Wednesday, President Trump holds the record for the country’s oldest chief executive. He was 70 in January 2017, when he became the 45th president.

Before him, President Ronald Reagan was the oldest president. He was 69 in 1981 when he was inaugurated for his first term.

In a debate with Walter Mondale during his 1984 re-election campaign, Mr. Reagan made light of the issue of age.

“I don’t think most Americans have ever seen a moving picture of Teddy Roosevelt and not, certainly, while he was president,” Professor Engel said, explaining why people may think of Kennedy as the youngest American president. “They don’t have a mental image of a young man in the White House at that age, whereas John F. Kennedy was all about the image and moving images.”

Other youthful presidents include Ulysses S. Grant, who was 46 when he took office in 1869; Bill Clinton, who was also 46 at his first inauguration, in 1993; and Barack Obama, who was 47 at his first inauguration in 2009. Three of the five youngest presidents were Democrats; Roosevelt and Grant were Republicans.

“That usually precludes much younger presidents,” he added. “And with the shorter life expectancies in the early days of the U.S., there were not as many people who would run as older candidates.”

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