Special Report

American Presidents Who Lived the Longest and Shortest Lives

6. John Quincy Adams
> Age at time of death: 80 years
> Date of death: February 23, 1848
> Cause of death: Stroke
> Place of death: Washington, D.C.

Two years after an electoral defeat to Andrew Jackson that ended his time as president, John Quincy Adams began his congressional career. Adams had retired to his hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts, but was bored by the lack of political engagement. Against his family’s wishes, Adams ran for Congress and went on to serve nine terms as a Massachusetts representative. In February 1848, Adams suffered a stroke on the House floor and died two days later. A funeral for Adams was held in the House Chamber. He was 80 years old at the time of his death.

7. Andrew Jackson
> Age at time of death: 78 years
> Date of death: June 8, 1845
> Cause of death: Tuberculosis
> Place of death: Nashville, Tennessee

In his 78 years, Andrew Jackson survived an assassination attempt, was shot in a duel, and had multiple brushes with death due to various illnesses. According to presidential research institute The Miller Center, Jackson’s frequent near-death experiences led many of his friends to question the former president’s mortality. On June 8, 1845, Jackson eventually died of health complications from tuberculosis. Some historians believe that lead poisoning from the bullet Jackson was shot with — which was never removed from his body — may have contributed to his death.

8. Martin Van Buren
> Age at time of death: 79 years
> Date of death: July 24, 1862
> Cause of death: Asthma
> Place of death: Kinderhook, New York

After failing to secure a second presidential term in 1844 and again in 1848, Martin Van Buren retired to an estate he had recently purchased, some two miles from his hometown of Kinderhook, New York. He spent much of his retirement writing memoirs, a political text, and traveling. Van Buren was bedridden from pneumonia in the fall of 1861, and perhaps never fully recovered. He eventually died of asthma on July 24, 1862. Van Buren lived long enough to see the beginnings of the Civil War, which he strongly opposed.

9. William Henry Harrison
> Age at time of death: 68 years
> Date of death: April 4, 1841
> Cause of death: Pneumonia
> Place of death: Washington, D.C.

William Henry Harrison holds the record for the shortest tenure of any U.S. president. Harrison died on April 4, 1841, just one month after his inauguration. Harrison gave his lengthy inauguration address on a chilly, wet day, and contracted a cold that eventually developed into the pneumonia that claimed his life. Harrison was the first president to die in office. By assuming the presidency, Vice President John Tyler set the precedent for succession now documented in the Constitution. At the time however, how a dead president should be replaced was unclear.

10. John Tyler
> Age at time of death: 71 years
> Date of death: January 18, 1862
> Cause of death: Stroke
> Place of death: Richmond, Virginia

After assuming the presidency in the aftermath of William Henry Harrison’s death and serving nearly a full term as president, John Tyler lost the 1844 election to James K. Polk. Tyler clashed with Congress frequently throughout his presidency, and his term ended with the first ever congressional override of a presidential veto on a bill. Bitter, Tyler left Washington, D.C. for his Virginia plantation just hours after Polk’s inauguration. When the first southern states began to secede at the start of the Civil War, Tyler led a failed effort to diffuse the conflict and eventually sided with the Confederacy. Tyler was no longer a U.S. citizen when he died of a stroke in January 1862, and was considered by many Americans to be a traitor to the Union. Many years later, his citizenship was posthumously restored by President Jimmy Carter.