When Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes the oath on Wednesday, he will be the oldest person to be sworn in as president. Mr. Biden turned 78 in November.
During the campaign, Mr Biden has addressed his age head-on in interviews and presented himself as a “transition candidate” who would help nurture new Democratic talent.
“This is a legitimate question to ask about my age,” Mr. Biden said on “The View,” adding: “I hope that I can demonstrate not only with age has come the wisdom and experience that can make things better. “
Mr Biden used his age as a force in the election and campaigned on two key messages, according to a historical expert.
“The first: ‘I’m not him,’ which is Trump,” said Jeffrey A. Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Wednesday. “The second was, ‘I’m an adult and I will bring back normalcy and I will bring back a sense of decency and show 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 longest-serving 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 reelection campaign in 1984, Mr. Reagan shed some light on the issue of age.
“I want you to know that I also will not make age an issue in this campaign,” he said. “I am not going to exploit the youth and inexperience of my adversary for political ends.”
Mr. Reagan was 77 years after his second term, the oldest president to leave office.
More than a century before him, William Henry Harrison had the distinction of being the oldest president of the time, when he was inaugurated in 1841 at the age of 68. Mr. Harrison, who had caught a cold that turned into pneumonia, died after 32 days in the office. He became the first president to die in office, and to date has served the shortest term in US presidential history.
At 96 years old, Jimmy Carter is the oldest living president.
Many people may think that John F. Kennedy, who was inaugurated in 1961 at the age of 43, was the youngest president. But that distinction belongs to Theodore Roosevelt, who was 42 in September 1901, when he assumed the presidency after the assassination of William McKinley.
“I don’t think most Americans have ever seen a moving image of Teddy Roosevelt and certainly not while he was president,” said Professor Engel, explaining why people may think of Kennedy as the youngest American president. “They don’t have a mental picture of a young man in the White House at this age, whereas John F. Kennedy was all about the picture and the moving pictures.”
Other young presidents include Ulysses S. Grant, who was 46 when he took office in 1869; Bill Clinton, who was also 46 when he was first inaugurated in 1993; and Barack Obama, who was 47 when he was first inaugurated in 2009. Three of the five youngest presidents were Democrats; Roosevelt and Grant were Republicans.
Under the United States Constitution, the President must be a United States-born citizen, at least 35 years of age, and a resident of 14 years.
Qualifications for president have not changed since George Washington first took office at age 57 in 1789, according to the Library of Congress. He was sworn in on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York, then the capital of the United States.
A 2011 JAMA article on presidential aging, which did not include Mr. Trump, observed that the average age of a U.S. president upon nomination was 55.1 years.
A similar ranking found that, on average, presidents are sworn in at age 55, according to potus.com, a project created by Bob Summers in 1996 as part of a graduate school project at the University of Michigan School of Information. .
“Most people who become presidents usually need to build a body of work to prove to voters what they stand for and how they will get things done,” Summers said.
“This generally excludes much younger presidents,” he added. “And with the shorter life expectancy in the early days of the United States, there weren’t as many people who would come forward as older applicants.”
How many father-son couples have taken up their duties?
There have been two father-son groups of presidents, and both were of the same age when they first took office.
John Adams was 61 when he became the second president in 1797. His son John Quincy Adams was sworn in as the sixth president at the age of 57 in 1825.
George Bush was 64 when he was inaugurated in 1989. Twelve years later, he saw his eldest son, George W. Bush, inaugurate at the age of 54.
Alain Delaquérière contributed to the research.