How the presidents of the United States (US) died

Estimated read time 14 min read

Here is a rundown of how each of the presidents of the United State Of America Died or got killed. Apparently, 39 different American presidents have died. Now some of them have been dead for a long time. Still, in this post, we are going to look at how every president in American history died.

 We would argue that being President is the most dangerous job in the world. 18% of them have died while on the job 9% of them were assassinated. There were about 122 years in which eight presidents died while in office. Now you could say that presidents generally tend to be older when they take office.

 And that’s a fair point. Still, it’s no wonder that the President now has an entire secret service team of thousands to protect them, oh, and an entire White House medical unit to take care of all of their medical needs. It’s a dangerous and stressful job.

While most of us hope for painless deaths, you know, like dying in our sleep. Tragically, many American presidents died horrible, extremely painful deaths. Let’s go in chronological order based on when they died, not when they were actually in office.

How US presidents died / how they were killed

George Washington

 George Washington was the first US president and indeed the first President to die. He likely died of epiglottitis, which is the inflammation of the epiglottis, or that little flap thing at the base of the tongue that prevents food from getting into your windpipe.

The doctors who treated him didn’t quite know what it was though and just tried bloodletting. He ended up losing around 40% of his blood before he died. He was 67.

Thomas Jefferson

The second president to die was Thomas Jefferson.

 The third president to die was John Adams, the second president’s death was sort of a crazy thing. They both died on the same day, which was July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the country and also the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, which they both worked on.

The two had a close friendship that went back to when they both lead the Continental Congress during the American Revolution that said, later on, they were bitter political rivals for a while and their later years, they once again became besties and wrote to each other regularly.

 Jefferson had a slow painful death and was bedridden for his final months. What officially caused his death was really bad infections in his bloodstream. I mean, he had urine in his blood related to having severe kidney damage. On top of that, he had pneumonia.

John Adams

  John Adams died of heart failure and his death was more sudden than Jefferson’s. Jefferson was 83-years-old while Adams was 90.

James Monroe

The fourth president to die also died on July 4, no jokes. James Monroe, the fifth president died from tuberculosis and heart failure. Exactly five years after Jefferson and Adams. He was 73.

 James Madison

 Madison was the next President to die almost five years after Monroe on June 28, 1836. He almost died on July 4 too and his doctors tried to get him to take stimulants to prolong his life. Until then, anyway, he also died of heart failure. He was 85 before he died.

William Henry Harrison

  William Henry Harrison, the sixth president to die was the first to die in office just a month into his presidency. He was 68. It’s a common misconception that he caught a cold that turned into pneumonia after getting In a long speech at his inauguration after refusing to wear a jacket in chilly weather.

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Well, he did give a two-hour speech at his inauguration and he did not wear a jacket on a chilly day. However, he didn’t get sick until more than three weeks later, and yes, the official cause of his death was pneumonia. However, 173 years later, experts argued that he caught typhoid from bacteria in the water supply.

Andrew Jackson

 Andrew Jackson was the next President to die. He had survived so much crazy stuff his entire life, but ultimately his heart failed him on June 8, 1845. He was 78. At the time of his death, he also suffered from Edema, which is the buildup of fluid in the body’s tissue on his deathbed after reacting to his family crying around him.

John Quincy Adams

 Three years later, the sixth president, John Quincy Adams died from a stroke at the age of 80. He had worked in Congress up until his death. Future President, Abraham Lincoln was there when he died.

James Polk

James Polk died far too young. He was only 53 when he died from cholera likely from drinking contaminated water. He died just over three months after he left office. It was surprising to see how his health deteriorated quickly  because as president he was passionate and  energetic. He died with his wife Sarah at his side.

Zachary Taylor

 Next was Zachary Taylor, who was the second president to die while in office less than a year and a half after his swearing-in. He died from gastroenteritis or inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, as Americans call it the stomach flu.

It is being reported that Zachary Taylor die on the toilet. His cherries and milk may likely have been contaminated

 For some reason, it must have been painful for him. It’s worth noting that there were theories that he may have been poisoned, but analysis of his remains in 1991 could find no proof of that. Still, some historians think it’s a possibility.

John Tyler

Two former presidents died in 1862. At the height of the American Civil War, a Yankee and a rebel first the 10th president John Tyler in January and later the eighth President Martin Van Buren in July. No not July 4, Tyler died from a stroke. He was 71. He’s the only president to be buried with a confederate flag instead of an American flag.

Martin Van Buren

By the way, Van Buren died from heart failure brought on bronchial asthma he was 79 and had lived to see eight more presidents succeed him in the office after he left it. That’s still the record. Although if Jimmy Carter sticks around a few more years.

Abraham Lincoln

The next President to die was the first assassinated in office when Abraham Lincoln and his wife and friends were watching a show at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC, John Wilkes Booth came up behind Lincoln who was laughing loudly in response to the show.  He was shot in the head at point-blank range. After going into a coma for eight hours. Lincoln died the next morning.  He was 56.

James Buchanan

 Three years later, James Buchanan died from both respiratory failure and rheumatic gout. He was 77.

Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce died the next year from inflammation of the stomach. He had been suffering from liver cirrhosis for several years yet had drunk alcohol heavily anyway, so yeah, basically, alcohol killed him.

Sadly, He died alone with no family members present. He was 64 when he died.

Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce died at the age of 64. He was a heavy drinker. He died of cirrhosis of the liver. An ailment in which the liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue thus causing permanent damage to the liver.

Two months prior to taking over office, Pierce had lost his only son to a train tragedy. Its was recorded as one of the worst tragedies that happen to an American President.

Millard Fillmore.

Millard Fillmore was next he died from a stroke at the age of 74.

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 Andrew Johnson also died from a stroke. He was 66 and was still an active US senator representing Tennessee at the time. Also at the time, he was the only surviving past president. Yeah, if you can agree about what his last words were. So I’m not going to speculate on this one.

Andrew Johnson

Andre Johnson died as a Senator. He died while serving as a senator. On July 31, 1875 while he was on his way to Tennessee to visit her daughter he had a stroke.

James Garfield

 James Garfield was the second president to be assassinated while in office. However, if he had competent doctors, perhaps he would have survived just four months into his presidency, a mentally ill fellow named Charles J. Guiteau came up to Garfield and shot him twice. He was shot twice, in the back and arm.

Most people don’t know that after he was shot. Garfield was slowly actually starting to recover before his doctors screwed things up while trying to get his bullets out with unsterilized fingers and tools that caused a severe infection. Two months after getting shot Garfield died from septic shock. He was just 49.

Ulysses Grant

Ulysses Grant also had a slow painful death at 63. He died from throat cancer after suffering from it for at least a year.

 The next year Chester Arthur died from a stroke at the age of 57.

Chester A. Arthur

Arthur served as a politician and a lawyer before eventually becoming the 21st president of the United. State. He ascended the position of leader after serving as the 20th vice president following the assassination of president James A. Garfield.

Arthur died of Bright’s disease, currently described contemporary medicine as chronic nephritis. This is the inflammation of the kidney

Rutherford Hayes

The next president today was Rutherford Hayes after suffered from a heart attack. He died at the age of 70 after suffering from heart disease.

Benjamin Harrison

  Benjamin Harrison was next, he got influenza, which then turned into pneumonia. He died from it at the age of 67.  

William McKinley

 The next President to die was also the third one to be assassinated while serving as president. That would be William McKinley. After serving as president for four and a half years a zealot named Leon Czolgosz shot him twice in his stomach. Czolgosz thought McKinley was a symbol of oppression and government bad and stuff. McKinley appear to be recovering in the days following the shooting, but then took a turn for the worse. He ended up dying from gangrene, a severe type of tissue death caused a lack of blood supply.

Grover Cleveland

 Seven years later Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president was the 24th president to pass away he suffered from a heart attack and died at the age of 71. He had had ongoing health problems suffering from coronary sclerosis and intestinal obstruction.

Teddy Roosevelt

 Teddy Roosevelt was next. His death came as a surprise. On the night of January 5, 1919, h had been struggling to breathe he saw his doctor who gave him some kind of treatment, and after that Roosevelt felt better and then went to bed. However, he never woke up. He died in his sleep. 

The vice president at the time Thomas Marshall famously said death had to take Roosevelt sleeping for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.

 It’s assumed he died from a coronary occlusion caused a blood clot. He was just 60.

Warren Harding

Warren Harding was the sixth president to die in office but the third to die in office of natural causes. When he was travelling along the west coast he suddenly experienced severe stomach and chest pains. After some rest, he began to recover and travel down to San Francisco but down there he began to feel like crap again and became bedridden at the Palace Hotel.

On August 2, 1923. His wife Florence was reading a flattering article about him from the Saturday Evening Post. After she paused, he told her that’s good go on, read some more. Those were his last words as he had a dramatic heart attack right afterwards, he died at the age of 57, just less than two and a half years into his presidency.

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Woodrow Wilson

 Woodrow Wilson died just a few months after Harding of a stroke, although he had already suffered from a severe stroke a few years before when he was president that nearly killed him then, in fact, afterwards he was partially paralyzed and nearly got blinded because of it.

 He was 67. Today he’s the only president buried within Washington DC.

William Taft.

 Next to die was William Taft. Taft is known as the heaviest president in American history.

 But in his final years, he made significant efforts to get in shape, exercising regularly and eating healthier foods to lose around 100 pounds. He also worked right up until right before he died as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

 However, his health had declined to begin in the late 1920s. He died of inflammation of the liver and heart disease when he was 72.

Calvin Coolidge

 Calvin Coolidge died of a heart attack at the age of 60. His death was sudden and unexpected.

Franklin Roosevelt

 Franklin Roosevelt was the seventh president to die in office, but that was after he had been reelected a fourth time when he died at the age of 63. Supposedly from a stroke, he had been in office for more than 12 years. Some historians argued the real cause was melanoma, a type of skin cancer.

John F. Kennedy

Next to die was John F. Kennedy, the most recent president to die in office and fourth assassinated his death is arguably the most famous death of all the presidents and right now you can search online and see footage of it.

He died from gunshot wounds, and it was dramatic in front of what seemed like the entire world as he paraded through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.

Now, we’re not going to get into all the theories about who killed JFK, but according to the Warren Commission, and most historians undoubtedly the main man responsible was Lee Harvey Oswald, who was murdered himself. Just three days later.

Public opinion polls have demonstrated that most Americans still don’t believe the official version tells the whole truth about what went down with JFK’s death

 At age 46. John F. Kennedy was the youngest president to ever die in American history.

Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover died the next year, 1964.  He had gone through several health problems the last couple of years of his life, but the official cause of his death was massive internal bleeding.  he did live to the old age of 90. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower died from heart failure at the age of 78. He had had heart problems for a while and famously suffered from a heart attack while he was president.

 Harry Truman

 Harry Truman was the next to die. His organs had failed and his blood pressure went extremely low after suffering from severe pneumonia. He was 88.

Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon Johnson died less than a month after Truman despite not first serving as president until 10 years after Truman left office LBJ, who smoked heavily for much of his adult life died from a heart attack at the age of 64.

Richard Nixon

. The next president that was to die was until more than 21 years later, that would be Richard Nixon who died from a stroke at the age of 81.  

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan was the next President to die. Died from pneumonia after long struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, which he was first diagnosed with, in 1994. As horrible as Alzheimer’s disease is remember Reagan nearly became the fifth president assassinated while in office but survived gunshot wounds back in 1981. He was 93.

Gerald Ford

Two years later, Gerald Ford died officially of arteriosclerotic cerebrovascular disease and diffuse arteriosclerosis. He had heart issues. He was 93.

George HW. Bush

 And finally, the most recent president to die was George HW. Bush, who died of Parkinson’s disease on November 30, 2018. He was 94 at the time. He was also the longest-lived American president at some point. However, that distinction is now held Jimmy Carter, Bush’s son, George W. Bush.

 In conclusion, you may have noticed that most American presidents have lived rather long lives, even though it’s supposedly the most dangerous job in the United States. The US presidents have historically lived longer than the average American. The average lifespan of Americans is currently 78.9.

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