Presidential Primer #1 – Who can be POTUS?


With the Presidential election coming up in November 2008 and a myriad of candidates from both parties racing in an attempt to gain that high office it is time for a primer on the Presidency. A sort of everything you ever wanted to know and were afraid to ask series of postings. You might be surprised by some of the interesting facts related to the office of President.  So here is the first of several postings that I hope will be a review for most Americans and an enlightenment for others.

The President of the United States or “POTUS” is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The government of the U.S. is made up of the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch. The President is the head of the Executive Branch.


The White House (Public Domain photo) 

His official residence is the White House in Washington, D.C. the capital of the United States. Within the White House his office is the Oval Office.

Who Can be President?

In the United States a common saying is “anybody can be president if they really want to”.  Sorry to say this is not true.  There is a certain governor in the State of California who would love to be President of the United States, but will never be able to, unless the Constitution is amended.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office shall not attained the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

What does all this mean? Simply put you have to have been born in the United States. Naturalized citizens need not apply. Arnold I’m sorry but “Terminators” can’t apply. However, it does say that anyone who was a citizen at the time the Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787 is eligible, but I don’t think anyone who fits that bill is still alive. 

Next you must be at least 35 years of age. Finally you must have lived at least 14 years in the United States. It also means that anyone who could become President such as the Vice president or Speaker of the House must meet the same qualifications.

Presidential Factoids:

Youngest man ever elected President – John F. Kennedy, 43 years of age. Elected November 8, 1960. Inaugurated January 20, 1961.
Youngest man to assume the Presidency – Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt at age 42 years when President McKinley was assassinated and later died in 1901.

Oldest man to ever be President – Ronald Reagan, 69 years of age at his inauguration in 1981.

First President to be born in the 20th century – John F. Kennedy, dob. May 29, 1917.

First President to die in office – William Henry Harrison, 9th President. Length of his term 31 days! Died April 4, 1841.
First President to be assassinated – Abraham Lincoln, April 15, 1865. John Wilkes Booth shot him early in his second term.
Youngest President to die in office – President John F. Kennedy at age 46 years, 177 days.

First Vice president to succeed to the Presidency on death of a President – John Tyler on the death of William Henry Harrison.  Yes Tyler was eligible based on the Constitutional criteria to be president.

First (and only) Person of the Roman Catholic faith to be elected President – 35th John F. Kennedy, 1961 – 1963

Longest Serving President – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933 – 1945, 12 years. More on this in a later posting.
Shortest Serving President – William Henry Harrison, 31 days. He died of pneumonia that he contracted on his inauguration day. He also gave the longest inauguration speech ever. This was a contributing factor in his illness because it was a very cold day.

Father/Son Presidents – There have been two instances.  First were 2nd President John Adams 1797-1801, son 6th President John Quincy Adams 1825-1829.  More recently 41st President George H.W. Bush 1989-1993, son 43rd President George W. Bush 2001-present.

Family Ties – Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President 1889-1893 was the grandson of William Henry Harrison, 9th President March 4, 1841 to April 4, 1841.

Watch for the next installment where Presidential Powers will be discussed.

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