You’ll Never Believe How Many American Presidents Died While in Office

U.S. presidents come in all forms. There are smart and dumb presidents, ones who tell ( controversial lies, and presidents who are outright terrible people. Then there are the presidents who died while on the job. Until recently, the United States has never gone longer than 44 years without a president dying during his term. There are a few presidents who died while in office, and with any luck, Donald Trump won’t be next!

William Henry Harrison

William H Harrison
He had the shortest term due to his untimely death. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  • Years in office: 1841
  • Died: April 4, 1841

Harrison has two undesirable presidential factoids to his name: The first of the presidents who died while in office, and shortest term. The runner-up in the 1836 election, Harrison edged Martin Van Buren to win in 1840 but he didn’t get to celebrate his victory. Just 30 days after his early March inauguration, Harrison caught a cold and died on April 4, 1841.

Next: A gruesome death for one of the most hated presidents.

Zachary Taylor

President Zachary Taylor
He fell ill. | National Archive/Getty Images
  • Years in office: 1849-50
  • Died: July 9, 1850

One of the most hated American presidents had probably the most gruesome death of all the presidents who died while in office. After falling ill following some July 4 celebrations, Taylor developed a severe case of diarrhea and died a few days later. Conspiracy theorists believed southern secessionists poisoned him because of his slavery policies, but he probably died from a food-borne illness or microbes living in Washington, D.C.’s, open sewers.

Next: We all know this story.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln assassination
He was shot days before the South surrendered. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  • Years in office: 1861-65
  • Died: April 15, 1865

One of the biggest cat lovers of all time was also one of the most loved presidents ever. John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, just days after the south surrendered in the Civil War. He was one of the first presidents who died while in office and the first who was assassinated.

Next: This president suffered for a long before he died.

James Garfield

James Garfield official portrait
He died from gunshot wound complications. | The White House Historical Association
  • Years in office: 1881
  • Died: Sept. 19, 1881

The owner of one of the worst presidential portraits suffered for a long time before he joined the ranks of presidents who died while in office. An assassin shot James Garfield on July 2, 1881, in the shoulder and back, but the wounds weren’t immediately fatal. Garfield had some ups and downs, but his condition didn’t improve and he died more than two months after being shot.

Next: This is why the secret service protects the president.

William McKinley

Portrait of American President, William McKinley
He was shot while meeting with the public. | Images
  • Years in office: 1897-1901
  • Died: Sept. 14, 1901

Almost 20 years to the day after James Garfield died from his assassination attempt, William McKinley suffered the same fate. He was shot while meeting the public on Sept. 6, 1901, and died from gangrene eight days later. McKinley shunned having a security detail, but after his assassination, Congress passed a law making the secret service protect the president.

Next: Lots of corruption in just half a term.

Warren G. Harding

Warren G. Harding
He had a fatal heart attack. | Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons
  • Years in office: 1921-23
  • Died: Aug. 2, 1923

Warren G. Harding led one of the most corrupt presidential administrations ever, and he did all that damage in just half a term. People at the time theorized Harding was poisoned, but he suffered a fatal heart attack while visiting San Francisco after about 28 months in office.

Next: One of the only presidents who died while in office from natural causes.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

United States president Franklin Delano Roosevelt
He died from a stroke. | Central Press/Getty Images
  • Years in office: 1933-45
  • Died: April 12, 1945

Franklin Delano Roosevelt owns several presidential superlatives. He is longest-serving president, a winner of four elections, and the man who guided the country out of the depression. He was also as controversial as Donald Trump and one of the few presidents who died while in office. Roosevelt died from a massive stroke less than a month before World War II fighting ended in Europe.

Next: We should all know the last president who died in office.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy and Jackie assassination
He served for roughly three years before his assassination. | Walt Cisco/Wikimedia Commons
  • Years in office: 1961-63
  • Died: Nov. 22, 1963

John F. Kennedy is the last of the presidents who died while in office. Just like with Abraham Lincoln, most people know all about his assassination. America’s 35th president served for nearly three years before the assassination in Dallas.

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