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10 Shortest Serving US Presidents

Some presidents seem to have far too long in the Whitehouse (I am not naming names), but some have had so little time that they were barely able to fulfill their duties. This is a list of the ten shortest presidencies in US history.

10. John Tyler 1,430 Days Wikipedia

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In Office: April 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845

Served the remainder of William Harrison’s term. Denied renomination by the Whigs, Tyler flirted with the Liberty Party, but was persuaded not to run by the Democrats (his former party). Tyler’s presidency was rarely taken seriously in his time. He was usually referred to as the “Acting President” or “His Accidency” by opponents. Further, Tyler quickly found himself at odds with his former political supporters.

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9. Andrew Johnson 1,419 Days Wikipedia


In Office: April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869

Served the remainder of Lincoln’s term. Sought the Democratic nomination in 1868, but was unsuccessful. Johnson had an ambiguous party status. He attempted to build up a party of loyalists under the National Union label, but he did not identify with either of the two main parties while President—though he did try for the Democratic nomination in 1868. Asked in 1868 why he did not become a Democrat, he said “It is true I am asked why don’t I join the Democratic party. Why don’t they join me…if I have administered the office of president so well?”

8. Chester A Arthur 1,262 Days Wikipedia


In Office: September 19, 1881 – March 4, 1885

Served the remainder of Garfield’s term. Sought a full term, but was not re-nominated. The Arthur Administration enacted the first general Federal immigration law. Arthur approved a measure in 1882 excluding paupers, criminals, and the mentally ill. Congress also suspended Chinese immigration for ten years with the Chinese Exclusion Act, later making the restriction permanent.

7. John F Kennedy 1,036 Days Wikipedia


In Office: January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963

Assassinated in his first term. John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President at noon on January 20, 1961. In his inaugural address he spoke of the need for all Americans to be active citizens, famously saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” He also asked the nations of the world to join together to fight what he called the “common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.”

6. Millard Fillmore 969 Days Wikipedia


In Office: July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853

Served the remainder of Taylor’s term. Sought the Whig nomination in 1852, but lost to Winfield Scott. Four years later, ran again (as a Know Nothing) and came in third. As president, Fillmore dealt with increasing party divisions within the Whig party; party harmony became one of his primary objectives. He tried to unite the party by pointing out the differences between the Whigs and the Democrats (by proposing tariff reforms that negatively reflected on the Democratic Party). Another primary objective of Fillmore was to preserve the Union from the intensifying slavery debate.

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5. Gerald Ford 895 Days Wikipedia


In Office: August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977

Served the remainder of Nixon’s term. Not elected for full term. In foreign policy, the Helsinki Accords marked a move toward detente in the Cold War, even as the former ally South Vietnam was invaded and conquered by North Vietnam; Ford did not intervene, but did help extract friends of the U.S. At home, the economy suffered from inflation and recession. Ford came under intense criticism for granting a preemptive pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal.

4. Warren G Harding 881 Days Wikipedia


In Office: March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923

Died in his first term. In April 1921, speaking before a joint session of congress he called for peacemaking with Germany and Austria, emergency tariffs, new immigration laws, regulation of radio and trans cable communications retrenchment in government, tax reduction, repeal of wartime excess profits tax, reduction of railroad rates, promotion of agricultural interests, a national budget system, a great merchant marine and a department of public welfare.

3. Zachary Taylor 491 Days Wikipedia


In Office: March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850

Died in his first term. Did not take the oath of office until March 5, 1849, because March 4th fell on a Sunday and Taylor declined to take the oath on Sunday because of his religious beliefs. The slavery issue dominated Taylor’s short term. Although he owned slaves, he took a moderate stance on the territorial expansion of slavery, angering fellow Southerners. Taylor urged settlers in New Mexico and California to draft constitutions and apply for statehood, bypassing the territorial stage. New Mexico was too small to act but California — which had high population growth from the gold rush — wrote a constitution that did not allow slavery; it was approved by the voters and a new state government took over in December 1849 without Congressional approval.

2. James A Garfield 199 Days Wikipedia


In Office: March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881

Assassinated within less than a year of his first term. Between his election and his inauguration, Garfield was occupied with constructing a cabinet that would balance all Republican factions. He was shot by Charles Julius Guiteau, disgruntled by failed efforts to secure a federal post, on July 2, 1881, at 9:30 a.m., less than four months after taking office.

1. William Henry Harrison 31 Days Wikipedia


In Office: March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841

Died within a month of his first term. Harrison only had time for one official act: calling Congress into a special session, which he set to begin on May 31, 1841. He and Whig leader Henry Clay had disagreed over the necessity of the special session (which Harrison opposed, but Clay desired in order to immediately get his economic agenda underway), but Clay’s powerful position in both the legislature and the Whig Party quickly forced Harrison to give in. Harrison was the first president to die in office.

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  • dalandzadgad

    "Some presidents seem to have far too long in the Whitehouse"


  • dalandzadgad: If you can’t beat them… :)

  • ben

    wow i had no idea some presidential terms were that short. If only it were to happen these days…

  • Loose_Cannon

    wow i had no idea some presidential terms were that short. If only it were to happen these days…

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Ben. The man was impeached, he should have left office. Clinton should have done the noble thing and resigned. It’s too bad his sniveling lack of courage emboldened our enemies.

  • I think I better hand out some shields :)

  • 9000

    I think its hilarious how, to this day, Charles Guiteau is referred to as a ‘disgruntled office-seeker’.

    He was crazy. He never really did anything to deserve a job from the government more than write a speech, and hang around the campaign headquarters a little.

    Its kinda like calling that nut that shot up Virginia Tech ‘a jilted lover’ because he was obsessed with the first girl he shot.

    Actually, Charles Guiteau identified with a faction in his party called the Stalwarts, who included VP Chester A Arthur. At some point Guiteau decided that God wanted him to kill Garfield so a Stalwart would be president.

    One thing that Guiteau was right about: at his trial he claimed that “the doctors killed Garfield, I just shot him.” This was probably right. Garfield would most likely have survived if it hadn’t been for the infections brought on by his physicians’ repeated probing of his wound with dirty hands and instruments. Hygiene had not yet been universally accepted as an important part of medical care.

  • 9000: Thanks for giving us that additional information – very useful.

  • khen

    It is interesting that you failed to mention David Rice Atchinson. He was president for a single day because Zachary Taylor refused to take the oath of president on a Sunday, and James Polk’s term was up. Most people do not know about him because the Library of Congress refuses to recognize him as an official president (mostly because he slept through most of his “term”).

  • Khen: that would be because Atchison was not president (for even part of a day):

    Or even better:

  • Lewis

    Yeah, Atchinson was president for March 4th 1949. Zachary Taylor was an idiot, if he was president for a whole term, he would have served one day less. Although he was not president, only acting president for about 12 hours.

    Can you do a shortest serving president including acting presidents (Dick Cheney, Atchinson)

    1. Atchinson
    2. Cheney
    3. Harrison
    4. Garfield
    5. Taylor
    6. Harding
    7. Ford
    8. Fillmore
    9. Kennedy
    10. Aurthor

  • 1mortim

    NO, Atchinson was NEVER president, acting or otherwise.

    That is just an old myth. No truth to it what-so-ever.

  • Norman

    William Henry Harrison: The most flawless US president ever.

  • deeeziner

    Just goofing off and pressing the random list button. Seems like I have found an orphan list that nobody loved. Or hated.

    Thought I’d give this list another comment, just so it doesn’t feel so lonely.

    Seems that shortest presidency list may also be the least comment list.

  • Will Trame

    In an off-the-wall manner, George W. Bush could be considered the “shortest serving president”. He was a pathetically amusing anomaly, not being chief executive at all, but rather a puppet of the Genghis Khan/Gepetto-esque Dick Cheney. Duhbya was a landmark historical event, the scars of which will echo down the decades.

  • Billy

    USA sucks, but I love it, hahahahaha

  • Here’s is some information on No.1, William Henry Harrison : 1). He was the oldest President ever to be elected until Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980, 2). He was the FIRST President to die in office. 3). He was the LAST President to be born before the signing of the Declaration Of Independence. He gave his Inaugural Speech on March 4, 1841. It is the longest Inaugural Speech ever given by any President at 8,445 words and 2 1/2 hours long. On that day, the weather was bad and cold, but Harrison decided to dress himself in lighter clothing and not preparing himself for the harsh elements of the weather. Very soon afterwards, he became ill and it just continued to get worse. Pneumonia and Septicemia set in and he eventually died on April 4, 1841.

  • Armeniangirl

    Franklin D. Roosevelt surved the most 12 years the most…..

  • peter8172

    @ Armeniagirl. The 22nd Amendment right of the Constitution states that no president shall be elected for a third term as two terms is the maximum………





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