As the staff and volunteers of James A. Garfield National Historic Site–and our visitors –contemplate the 187th birthday of the twentieth President of the United this November, it occurred to me that there are some interesting patterns concerning presidential birthdays – and deaths. Here goes!
Two presidents were born in 1767 – Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, was born on March 15; John Quincy Adams, the sixth president, was born on July 11.
Two presidents were born in 1822 – Ulysses S. Grant, the eighteenth president, was born on April 22; Rutherford B. Hayes, the nineteenth president, was born on October 4.
Among the five living former presidents and the current president, three were born in 1946; Bill Clinton, August 19; George W. Bush, July 6, and Donald Trump, June 14.
Three presidents were born in successive years in reverse order of their ordinal numbers as president. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26thpresident, was born on October 27, 1858; William Howard Taft, the 27th president, was born on September 15, 1857; Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president, was born on December 28, 1856.
Two presidents share a birthday. James K. Polk was born on November 2, 1795. His eighteenth successor, Warren G. Harding, was born on the same day of the year in 1865.
Four presidents in succession were born two and ten years apart! Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, was born on July 4, 1872. Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd president, was born on January 30, 1882. Coolidge’s successor, Herbert Hoover, the 31st president, was born on August 10, 1874, while Roosevelt’s successor, Harry Truman, the 33rd president, was born on May 8, 1884.
So far as presidential deaths go, it is well-known that two presidents died on the same day: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826. Jefferson died at approximately 2 p.m. on that day and Adams died at about 6 p.m. Five years later, James Monroe, our fifth president, passed away on July 4, 1831.
Two presidents died in 1862: John Tyler, the tenth president, died on January 18, and Martin Van Buren, the eighth president, died on July 24.
Two presidents died in 1901. Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third president, died on March 13. William McKinley, our twenty-fifth president, was felled by an assassin’s bullet on September 6, and died eight days later on September 14.
Two presidents died on December 26, the day after Christmas. Harry Truman died on that day in 1972. Gerald Ford, the 38th president died on the same day in 2006.
Gerald Ford held the record for presidential longevity until just last year. He lived to the ripe old age of 93 years, 165 days. Ronald Reagan lived nearly as long. Jimmy Carter, Ford’s successor and Reagan’s predecessor, is now 93 and will turn 94 on October 1 of this year. Reagan’s successor, George H. W. Bush is now 94 years, 4 months old and the longest-lived U.S. president. Four recent presidents in succession have lived beyond age 90. Only two other presidents lived to that age, John Adams and Herbert Hoover.
-Alan Gephardt, Park Ranger