Presidents Who Died in Office (Video)

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Since the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, and the inauguration of our first president in 1789, the U.S. has had 45 presidents, eight have died while serving as president. Four of natural causes, and four through assassination. Below is list of those eight presidents who died in office.

William Henry Harrison -The 9th President, who died on April 4, 1841 of pneumonia and pleurisy. Harrison’s term is the shortest in history, clocking in at one month. Harrison was the son of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the grandfather of a future president, Benjamin Harrison. William Henry Harrison was succeeded by Vice-President John Tyler.

Zachary Taylor –The 12th President, who died on July 9, 1850 of bilious fever, typhoid fever, and cholera morbus, following a heat stroke. Modern doctors believe the cause of death is what is now known as acute gastroenteritis and the general incompetence of Taylor’s medical care. Taylor was succeeded by Vice-President Millard Fillmore.

Abraham Lincoln–The 16th President, was assassinated in 1865. Lincoln was the first of four presidents to be assassinated. Lincoln was the first Republican president, and of course, the president who preserved the Union in the Civil War and who created the Emancipation Proclamation. He was killed by John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor and known Confederate sympathizer. He was shot in the head while attending a play at Ford’s Theater in the evening of April 14, 1865, and died the next morning, on April 15, 1865. Lincoln was succeeded by Vice-President Andrew Johnson.

James Garfield–The 20th President, who was assassinated in 1881. Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau, a disgruntled office seeker, at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C. on July 2, 1881.

Guiteau had supported Garfield in the election, and he believed that his work in the campaign justified him being appointed as American consul in Paris, France. This despite the fact that he was unqualified for the job and did not speak French. Guiteau convinced himself that he was turned down because he was a member of the faction of the Republican Party known as the Stalwarts, and that Garfield had betrayed him because for political reasons.

After shooting Garfield, Guiteau was taken into custody and readily admitted and detailed his whole assassination plot and reasoning for killing Garfield. The president lingered on for twelve weeks, finally dying of his wounds on September 19, 1881. Modern doctors believe that had Garfield’s doctors had access to modern medical procedures and equipment, he likely would have survived his wounds. Garfield was succeeded by Vice-President Chester Arthur.

William McKinley–The 25th President, who was assassinated 1901. McKinley was visiting the the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York on September 6, 1901 when he was shot twice in the abdomen by Leon Frank Czolgosz, an avowed Anarchist. Believing that the poor and the working class were being kept down by the existing political and economic system, Czolgosz believed that killing the president would advance the causes of socialism and anarchism. He was inspired by the recent assassination of Italy’s King, Umberto I, who was also killed by an anarchist.

McKinley died several days later of his wounds, on September 14, 1901. He was succeeded by Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt.
Warren G. Harding –The 29th President, who died on August 2, 1923 of a suspected heart attack while touring the western United States. He was succeeded by Vice-President Calvin Coolidge.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt –The 32nd President, who died on April 12, 1945, of a cerebral hemorrhage. Roosevelt had been in ill health for some time, and his selection of Harry Truman (or, more correctly, his dumping of sitting Vice-President Henry Wallace) has been seen as an insurance policy of sorts in case his health deteriorated. Harry Truman succeeded Roosevelt.

John F. Kennedy-The 35th President, who was assassinated on November 22, 1963. He was shot and killed while in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. His assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald, a known sympathizer of the communist regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba. Kennedy was succeeded by Vice-President Lyndon Johnson.

While Kennedy is the last president to die in office, both Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan almost died in office. Eisenhower had two heart attacks, and Reagan was shot in the chest in an assassination attempt, but both survived to serve two full terms.

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