Since the beginning of time, people searched for a ruler. A figure of authority to guide them and represent them.
History books never fail to tell the tails of daring, mature leaders that strive for the greatness of their nation. But what happens when that highly regarded figure is younger than expected?
For ancient Egyptians, their youngest pharaoh was Tutankhamun, who rose to power in 1333 BC, at the tender age of nine. With the help of his advisors, Tutankhamun helped tighten diplomatic relations and his reign was considered a prosperous one.
The Roman Empire also fell in the hands of a boy. In the year 238 AD.
Gordian III took the throne when he was only thirteen years old, becoming the youngest sole legal Roman Emperor. Gordian, like many of his predecessors, was very involved in the battles fought by the Roman Empire. His young age didn’t seem to help him on the battlefield.
He lost his life during a campaign when he was only nineteen years old.
Such examples are of course extreme in modern history but when it comes to young presidents, the same fascination seems to present itself, much as in ancient times. So, who was the youngest President?
The youngest American President
This is a question that proposes two different answers.
Theodore Roosevelt technically became the youngest American president when he took office in 1901. Why do we say technically? Because Roosevelt didn’t win the presidential election. He was invested as the twenty-sixth president of the United States after the assassination of William McKinley.
He was 42 years, 10 months and 18 days old. Roosevelt brought a breath of fresh air to the White House.
The young outdoorsman could not be confined very easily. TR was famous for his long walks along the Potomac River, where he would often go skinny-dipping. Also, he never seemed to forget his first passion: boxing.
Roosevelt was a lightweight boxer during his Harvard years and even when in the White House, he would regularly organise matches where he would fight former professional boxers. This habit carried on until one hit from an artillery officer ruptured a blood vessel, leaving Roosevelt almost completely blind in one eye. It wasn’t all just fun and games for young Teddy.
He was the first American president to win a Nobel Peace Prize. The award was granted to him as a recognition for his efforts to end the Russo-Japanese War. And the list of firsts wouldn’t stop there.
In October of 1910, Roosevelt became the first president to fly in an aeroplane when he took a four-minute flight in a Wright brothers apparatus. He was also the first chief of state to travel outside the US during his presidency.
In 1906, he went on a trip to Panama. A very prolific writer with over thirty publications, including a biography, Roosevelt later ran for a second term which he won. His second inauguration as President took place on March 4, 1905.
The youngest American President elected by vote
Although Theodore Roosevelt was, and still remains the youngest US President, he was not the youngest head of state chosen by the people. The title of youngest president-elect goes to John F. Kennedy.
JFK or “Jack Kennedy” was sworn into office at 43 years old, becoming the thirty-fifth President of the United States. When John and Jackie Kennedy stepped foot into the White House, America was stunned at the young couple.
They contrasted so much with their precursors, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, who were one of the oldest White House couples.
JFK was an all-American boy. After graduating from University in 1940, he offered to volunteer for the Marines and infantry. He was not accepted due to his medical condition. But that didn’t stop JFK.
After his father forged his medical records and with the aid of the director of the Office of Naval Intelligence, Kennedy joined the United States Naval Reserve. For his act of bravery during a mission in the Solomon Islands JFK received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart Medal.
On March 1, 1945, he was honourably discharged due to his chronic back pain.
His eldest brother, Joseph Kennedy jr. was the one who was supposed to follow a political path. After his death in 1944, this task fell on the shoulders of the younger Kennedy.
After serving as a congressman for six years and three terms in the House of Representatives between 1953 and 1960, Kennedy began his presidential campaign in the Democratic primary election, where he defeated Hubert Humphrey and Wayne Morse.
He later went head to head against the Republican representative, Richard Nixon, in the first televised presidential debate in US history. He won the popular vote, although just by two-tenths of one percent (49.7% to 49.5%), and the Electoral College by a long run (303 votes to 219).
Thus, Kennedy became the first (and only) Roman Catholic President of the United States.
Although militants for civil rights such as Martin Luther King, Jr. considered him a bit too soft, JFK took cautious but important steps in passing civil rights bills. He paved the way for Lyndon B. Johnson, who became President after Kennedy’s assassination, to enforce employment, education and voting rights.
Kennedy was the first president to dance with black women at an inaugural ball.
Due to his wealthy upbringing, during his time as Congressman and as President, John F. Kennedy donated all of his income to charity.
The White House Correspondent’s Dinner was an event attended solely by men until JFK came along. In 1962 he refused to participate unless women were allowed.
Even though he had a maximum approval rate of 80%, making him one of the most popular US presidents, nothing gained as much attention as his death. JFK died younger than any other U.S. president.
His assassination took place on November 22, 1963, while Kennedy was participating in a presidential motorcade in Dallas.
With his wife Jackie by his side, who usually didn’t travel with him on political tours but decided to join him in Texas, Kennedy received the fatal blow delivered by John Harvey Oswald.
Abraham Zapruder, a Dallas dressmaker caught the assassination on his home movie camera.
In 1999, the government paid the Zapruder family $16 million for that film. The 16 seconds piece of 8mm film is one of the most viewed and studied material. It has sparked throughout time many conspiracy theories.
Even today, as many as 62% of Americans think that JFK’s killing was a cover-up. Lee Harvey Oswald was murdered two days after Kennedy’s death. The CIA is presumed to release the records of JFK’s assassination until the 26th of October 2017.
Who is the youngest President to date?
While the US is currently governed by its oldest President ever, North Korea is represented by Kim Jong Un, who is presently holding the title of youngest President.
Although his official title is Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim inherited the authority from his father, Kim Jong-il.
He assumed this position at only 27 years old, in December 2011, after Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack while travelling on a train.
Born on 8 Jan 1984, the Supreme Leader is 36 years old.