The oldest survivor

In anticipation of November 11, when (all being well) Gerald Ford will become the longest-lived U.S. President ever, I have been mulling these statistics.

From the end of his presidential term on 4 March 1801 until his death on 4 July 1826, John Adams was both the oldest living ex-President of the USA and also the oldest living ex-Vice-President. Thomas Jefferson, who succeeded Adams in both offices, predeceased him by a few hours, or he too would have held that (admittedly somewhat obscure) distinction.

The same was true of Martin Van Buren, from 18 November 1850 (when Richard Johnson, who had been Van Buren’s no.2 in 1837-41) died, to his own death on 24 July 1862.

Likewise the otherwise unexciting Millard Fillmore, from the death of James Buchanan on 1 July 1868 till his own death on 8 March 1874; and also Andrew Johnson, from Fillmore’s death until he died on 31 July 1875.

Now we must skip forward almost ninety years. On 7 November 1967, John Nance Garner, who had been Franklin Roosevelt’s first Vice-President, died, two weeks short of his 99th birthday. Harry S Truman, Roosevelt’s last Vice-President (he had three) thus became the oldest living ex-Veep; he was already the oldest living ex-President. Truman died on 26 December 1972, and for the next month, until his own death on 22 January 1973, Lyndon B. Johnson was both the oldest living ex-President and the oldest living ex-President.

More recently, Richard Nixon was both the oldest ex-President and the oldest ex-Vice-President from the death of Nelson Rockefeller on 26 January 1979 until Ronald Reagan’s term ended on 20 January 1989 (Reagan being older than Nixon, Nixon was no longer the oldest ex-President). Since Reagan’s death on 6 June 2004, Gerald Ford has been both the oldest living ex-President and the oldest living ex-Vice-President.

The question: There is one person who was both the oldest living ex-President and the oldest living ex-Vice-President, but not at the same time. Who was it?

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1 Response to The oldest survivor

  1. nickbarnes says:

    Russell’s inheritance of the barony in 1976 did not revolve around the extraordinary titillating parts of the story, and quite right too. It revolved around the principle that a child born in wedlock cannot be denied its legitimacy by mother or father. I find this entirely laudable and I think it’s rather astonishing that this was apparently established in the 18th century.

    Given the circumstances (and with a nod to the obvious wrongness of both the hereditary principle and also the very notion of legitimacy) this also seems to have been a just decision.

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