At what year or parts of years were the most current (meaning in office) and former Presidents of the United States alive? It seems that 1833 to 1836 had the most current, former, and future Presidents alive, but what year had the most that actually or were currently serving?


According to this article there have been three times when six presidents were alive at once.

  • 1861 - Van Buren, Tyler, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln
  • 1993 - Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton
  • 2001 - Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush jr

With the inaguaration of Donald Trump, this has happened a fourth time:

  • 2017 - Carter, Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama, Trump

Given the advanced ages of both Bush Sr and Carter, it seems unlikely this will happen again, unless for some reason Trump were to leave office earlier than expected.

While this has happened relatively often in the recent past (three of four occurrences were in living memory), it is unlikely to be repeated in the near future given the ages of the current ex-presidents, the recent string of three 8-year presidents (which is very rare, having only happened once before) and the relatively advanced age of Trump.

With the passing of George Herbert Walker Bush on November 30th, 2018, this period of six presidents and former presidents has ended.


Despite the hedge up above, it appears this will occur again on January 20th, 2021 due to Jimmy Carter surviving despite advanced age.

  • 5
    If I could, I'd give you an extra half a vote up or so for working out the actual odds mathematically. – T.E.D. Apr 22 '16 at 13:16
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    I will try to remember to update the answer next February. – Gort the Robot Apr 22 '16 at 22:44
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    Average age someone becomes president is around 55 and average time spent as president is 5.3, so that means most likely there are ten people alive today who will be president but aren't president yet. We probably need to go back to Trump's birthday (1946) before we can even be sure of a number as he's the oldest person elected to a first term. – Gort the Robot Nov 17 '16 at 6:37
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    Three 8-year presidents occurred once before: Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe in 1801-1825. Therefore 1993-2017 was not unprecedented. – George A. Solodun Jan 21 '17 at 0:03
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    How plausible gets us into politics. For Trump to be removed from office, 67 senators have to vote to do so, so it could not be a party line vote. Also, not to be morbid about it, but Jimmy Carter is 94...the chance of him lasting until Jan 20, 2021 is only around 50-50. – Gort the Robot Dec 2 '18 at 0:38

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