Her Majesty with 12 U.S. Presidents: Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. 🇬🇧🇺🇸
Truman and Carter never met (Carter never met LBJ, either), and I don’t know if Truman knew who Carter was. Truman died in 1972, about a year into Carter’s term as Governor of Georgia, but Carter wasn’t a national figure until a few months into his 1976 campaign for President. I’m not sure how plugged into Democratic politics Truman was during the last two years of his life, so it’s certainly possible that Carter may have been on his radar as a different kind of Southern Democrat, but I just don’t know for sure.
Don’t forget that Ronald Reagan was a very famous actor when Harry Truman was President. Truman probably would have known about Reagan just from Reagan being a pretty big movie star. But Reagan was also a Democrat (yes, Ronald Reagan was a Democrat) during the Truman Administration, and he (along with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart) campaigned for – and WITH – President Truman in 1948:
I’m not sure about George H.W. Bush and Truman. Bush’s father, Prescott Bush, was elected to the U.S. Senate while Truman was still President, and Bush 41 himself served in Congress and as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations while Truman was still alive. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had met at some point, but it probably wasn’t anything extensive. If I had to guess, I’d say that Truman probably knew who George H.W. Bush was because he was familiar with Senator Bush. Even an elderly Truman would probably have been aware of who the U.N. Ambassador was towards the end of his life.
This year the FDR Library celebrates 75 years, and with that, 75 years of Presidential Libraries. In the lead up to June 30th we will be highlighting here all of our fellow Libraries. Check in each week for photos, documents and facts on the creation and history of each Library and a look ahead to what will be the newest Presidential Library, the Barack H. Obama Presidential Library.
We hope you will follow along with our journey around the country. Check back later this week for our first Library highlight - the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.
Do you think Bush Sr will break the record for oldest president?
He’s heading in the right direction!
George H.W. Bush turned 92 last weekend, so he’s closing in on the two longest-living Presidents in American history: Gerald Ford, who was 93 years, 165 days old when he died on December 26, 2006, and Ronald Reagan, who died on June 5, 2004 at 93 years, 120 days. Bush 41 joins Ford and Reagan as the only American Presidents to reach the age of 92. Jimmy Carter, who is a few months younger than Bush, has a chance at breaking the record, too. He turns 92 on October 1st.
John Adams – who was the longest-living President for nearly 200 years until Reagan surpassed him in 2001 (he’s now been surpassed by Ford, Bush, and Carter, as well) – lived long enough to see his son, John Quincy Adams, elected President himself in 1824, he died while his son was in office. George H.W. Bush not only lived long enough to see his son, George W., elected to the Presidency, but he lived through both of George W. Bush’s terms, and is nearing the end of the second term of his son’s successor. That’s pretty remarkable.
Jimmy Carter has been adding to a Presidential longevity record every day since 2012 and it will be difficult for any of his successors to break it – the longest life after the Presidency. Since Carter was a relatively young President and was defeated for his bid for a second term, he left the White House in 1981 at the age of 56 years old. Carter broke Herbert Hoover’s record for the longest life after leaving office in 2012. Hoover was 54 years old when he left office in 1933, and lived another 31 years, 231 days. Carter’s life after the White House has spanned nearly 36 years. For some people, that part of their life would be called “retirement”, but it’s impossible to define what Jimmy Carter has been doing since 1981 as “retirement”.
Bush 41 and Carter led remarkably active lives until the past few years. Bush 41 rarely travels anymore, largely due to a form of Parkinson’s disease which has left him wheelchair-bound. President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, continued one an incredible pace as activists for various causes throughout the world until late last year when President Carter was diagnosed with cancer and announced that he would begin to “slow down” – an announcement he made during a book tour.
I’m not sure if Bush or Carter will break Ford’s record as the longest-living President in American history or not (Ford surpassed Reagan just a few weeks before he died), but they’ve come a long way, literally and figuratively. Both Bush and Carter have enjoyed remarkably good health for most of their lives, but both have also faced some scary health challenges over the past few years.
As I mentioned, President Bush began traveling less and less over the past decade due to the form of Parkinson’s disease that has left him in a wheelchair. (It is worth nothing that being confined to a wheelchair has resulted in Bush 41 becoming legendary for his flamboyant socks.) Bush’s most serious health challenges were in late-2012 when he was gravely ill with pneumonia. The 41st President’s illness was serious enough that his family was in contact with the Military District of Washington – the military command responsible for Presidential funerals – to keep everyone updated about any arrangements. Fortunately, Bush’s health bounced back and when he turned 90 years old in June 2014, he went skydiving (from a helicopter!) to celebrate. It was the eighth time he had made a jump – his first jump, in 1944, was to escape his plane after he was shot down by the Japanese while making a bombing run in the Pacific during World War II. Bush can break Gerald Ford’s record as longest-living President on November 24, 2017.
Jimmy Carter hasn’t spent his long life after the White House jumping out of planes, but he’s spent plenty of time and traveled millions of miles inside of them for dozens of important reasons – usually to save lives and advance human rights. After leaving office in 1981, Carter and his wife created the Carter Center and have devoted their “retirement” to fighting diseases, building homes for the needy, delivering clean water, health care, and medicine to people who had no access to it, observing elections, and resolving conflicts. For his efforts, Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, and he is the first to admit that he’s done far more for people after he left office than he was able to do during his four years as President. Carter worked and traveled at a blistering pace until he turned 90 years old and, even then, didn’t truly begin to slow down until he was diagnosed with melanoma. In August 2015, Carter announced that his cancer had spread to his brain and liver, and that he was immediately undergoing surgery and beginning to receive treatment. It was really the first time Carter announced any serious health issues own his own, but his father, mother, brother, and both sisters all died of pancreatic cancer. Six months later, President Carter announced that he no longer needed treatment and that he was cancer-free, and, as of June 2016, the 39th President was back on the road working to guarantee human rights around the world. Carter can break Ford’s record as the longest-living President on March 15, 2018 (if Bush hasn’t already done so).
Between George H.W. Bush’s skydiving and dope sock swag, and Jimmy Carter’s Wolverine-level healing powers, don’t be surprised if they outlive all of us.