Most/fewest ex-presidents

With Ronald Regan’s passing, there are currently 4 surviving ex-Presidents. This got me to thinking: what period in time had the most living ex-Presidents? And, excluding the very early 1800’s, what period in time had the fewest living ex-presidents?

Just before Nixon’s resignation there were none - LBJ died in 1973, Truman in 1972, Eisenhower in 1969.

Without digging, I believe 5 is the record.

Adhering strictly to the letter of the OP, throughout George Washington’s time in office (1789-1797) there were no living ex-Presidents of the United States (Washington’s terms being complete prior to the “very early 1800’s”).

Here’s an awesome site if anyone wants to do the legwork. I know I don’t, but the data is here (except for Ronnie, of course):

Using that site and excel to tabulate it gives a max of five.

2001-4: Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush & Clinton.
1993-4: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan & Bush.
1861-2: van Buren, Tyler, Fillmore, Pierce & Buchanan

If anyone wants to check my spreadsheet they’re very welcome…

There were no surviving ex-Presidents for Nixon’s 2nd term, well virtually, anyway. LBJ died 1/22/73-- til Nixon’s resignation 8/8/74.

Nixon’s 2nd term lasting little more than 1.5 years thankfully.

So other that Nixon’s second term, George Washington’s term, and John Adams’ term after Washington died, were there any other times where there were no surviving ex-Presidents?


  1. From Andrew Johnson’s death (31 July 1875) until the end of Grant’s term (3 Mar 1877). [a bit over 1 yr 7 mo]

  2. From Grover Cleveland’s death (24 June 1908) until the end of T. Roosevelt’s term (3 Mar 1909). [around 8 mo]

  3. From Calvin Coolidge’s death (5 Jan 1933) until the end of Hoover’s term (3 Mar 1933). [about 2 mo]

Not counting Washington’s term, the longest period was number 1 above.

For archival purposes, I saved the photo from Nixon’s funeral of Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush senior and Clinton all lined up at the graveside. It’s a classy shot, and I think it might have been Reagan’s last public appearance.

Seeing it, Mr. Rilch commented that it looked like the “Five Doctors” from a Doctor Who episode (special? I’m not up on D/Who).

Officially, “The Five Doctors” was a special, though it is usually considered a episode of the series. Our local PBS station had to buy it separately to air it.

It was the last significant appearance he made. I think Reagan made public appearances through 1997 or so, but only very brief ones without speaking. They continued to maintain a Reagan’s office, and he was brought there to help keep his mind active as possible.
I wonder at what point we had the most living presidents, including furture presidents (up until George W. Bush). For instance, as of August 19, 1946 we would have had twelve living presidents. Though I am sure at some other point before there were even more.

Wow, I must have missed that shot but I would like to see it. Do you know if it’s online anywhere?

It’s impossible to answer definively, since our next 6-10 presidents are alive but not yet known.

The record, though, is 18 living presidents, first established with the birth of Benjamin Harrison in 1833. The number fluctuated between 17 & 18 with various births and deaths until 1845, and never got that high again

Here’s one

And there’s Bob and Liddy Dole in the background. So 5 presidents and 1 presidential candidate .

And two future senators (Liddy and Hillary).

And I think the Quaker Oats guy is standing between Geo. HW and Ronnie!

<duck and run>

Or, are those future presidents… :slight_smile:

Well, that’s a good shot, but the one I saved was facing them directly, and the First Ladies weren’t shown.

Good call on the candidate and future Senators. No need for that cheap shot against Barbara Bush.

Isn’t that the one where they’ve all linked arms doing the schlemizel shlamazel dance from Laverne and Shirley? Or perhaps they’re off to see the Wizard. I remember that shot and IIRC there were autographed prints sold to raise money for some library or other. I kind of wanted one but they were prohibitively expensive for me at the time and I don’t think they were all original signatures (some were printed/stamped).