Presidents as Young Elected Leaders

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” – F.D.R.

The Young Elected Leaders Project (YELP) studies and works with young people who run for public office.  YELP research reveals that over one half of American Presidents serving since the turn of the 20th Century began their public careers as young elected leaders. Beginning with William McKinley, the data below charts the Presidents who were 35 years or younger when elected to their first public office.

Six of the thirteen Presidents serving since the start of the 20th Century were elected into their first public office at the age of 30 or younger. At 25 years of age, Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest future President. America’s 44th president, Barack H. Obama, began his public life as a State Senator at the age of 35.

U.S. President Elected Office State Age
William McKinley U.S. House of Rep. OH 34
Theodore Roosevelt State Assembly NY 24
William H. Taf Superior Court Judge OH 31
William G. Harding State Senate OH 35
Calvin Coolidge Councilman Northampton, MA 26
Franklin D. Roosevelt State Senate NY 28
John F. Kennedy U.S. House of Rep. MA 30
Lyndon B. Johnson U.S. House of Rep. TX 29
Richard M. Nixon U.S. House of Rep. CA 34
Gerald Ford U.S. House of Rep. MI 35
Jimmy Carter Board of Education Sumter County, GA 32
William J. Clinton Attorney General AR 30
Barack H. Obama State Senate IL 35

Download our fact sheet on presidents as YELs here.