Joe Biden celebrates his 80th birthday today, making him the first president to reach that milestone in office. Indeed, of the 45 men to serve as president, he is only the twelfth to live that long. Six of those were thrown out of the office by the voters (as was Martin Van Buren, who died just short of 80), perhaps suggesting that defeat is less stressful than serving two terms; among the six presidents to reach age 90, the only one who didn’t lose his reelection bid was Ronald Reagan.
Jimmy Carter, at 98 and counting, is the longest-lived president. Britain, by contrast, has had three prime ministers serve past age 80, all of them long-tenured giants of the office: Lord Palmerston died in office at 84 in 1865, William Gladstone served until he was 84 in 1894, and Winston Churchill stepped down at 80 in 1955, after struggling through his final two years in office following a debilitating stroke. All three men gradually lost their grip on international events in their final years
Biden was elected to the United States Senate the year Richard Nixon was reelected, while the Vietnam War was still ongoing and the average price of a gallon of gas in the United States was 36 cents. He turned 40 years old in 1982, and his first presidential campaign collapsed in 1987. He was 49 when the Soviet Union dissolved, 50 when Bill Clinton was inaugurated, 57 for Y2K, 65 when he was elected vice president at the end of the George W. Bush presidency.