Ten US presidents did not get to serve a full term in office – here are the ten shortest-serving US presidents in American political history.
Elected presidents can serve no more than two eight-year terms in office. Vice presidents who take over from a sitting president can serve no more than ten years in total – two full terms and one half term – although this has never happened.
From the longest-serving to the shortest-serving, here are the shortest-serving US presidents in American political history.
10th – John Tyler
Tyler served as William Henry Harrison’s Vice President until Harrison’s surprise death in 1841. He then became America’s tenth president, but did not seek a second term in 1844.
He served as president for 1,430 days, just shy of the presidents who served one full term.
9th – Andrew Johnson
Lasting in the top job for 1,419 days, Johnson served the rest of Abraham Lincoln’s second term following his assassination. He did not contest the 1868 presidential election.
8th – Chester A. Arthur
If you’re ever in need of an obscure president that very few people have heard of, Arthur could be your man. America’s 21st president served 1,262 between 1881 and 1885. This Republican took over from James A. Garfield who was…you guessed it…assassinated in 1881.
7th – John F. Kennedy
The story of JFK is one that’s well known throughout the world. The charismatic Democratic president lasted just 1,036 days in the White House up until his assassination in 1963.
6th – Millard Fillmore
This Whig president took over from Zachary Taylor after his death in 1850. He served in office for just 969 days.
5th – Gerald Ford
Ford is the only president in US political history to have become president without being directly elected. Richard Nixon’s initial vice president was Spiro Agnew, but was replaced by Ford after Nixon secured his second term. Following the Watergate scandal, Nixon resigned his post, which led to Gerald Ford taking over as president.
Ford sought to win a full term in the 1976 election, but ultimately lost out to the Democrat’s Jimmy Carter.
He served for just 895 days.
4th – Warren G. Harding
This Republican served as the United States’ 29th president from 1921 – 1923. Due to a heart-attack he passed away just 881 days into his first term, and was succeeded by his VP Calvin Coolidge.
3rd - Zachary Taylor
This Whig served as president for just 492 days. He died in 1850, which allowed for Millard Fillmore to take over.
2nd – James A. Garfield
Garfield was mentioned already as he was succeeded by another short-serving president – Chester A. Arthur. Garfield was assassinated in 1881 after just 199 days in office.
The shortest-serving US president – William Henry Harrison
The United States’ ninth president lasted just 31 days in office. The reason for his incredibly short term: pneumonia. This Whig served between the 4th March and 4th April 1941, and was succeeded by John Tyler who also makes this list.
What about Donald Trump?
As of now, Donald Trump is sandwiched between Taylor and the Garfield on this list. If Trump survives in office for another year-and-a-half then he will have beaten Taylor. If he survives his first term then he will not be in the top 10 shortest-serving US presidents in American political history.
Will Trump make it to the end of his term? Or will Mike Pence be required to take over?
The lengths of service for each US president are based off figures from this Wikipedia page about presidential term lengths.
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