Politics

Which US President Served for the Longest Time?

Elected 4 times, FDR is unprecedented in his term length, followed by an 11-way tie for second.

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The President of the United States holds one of the most powerful political positions in the world. Although presidents are currently limited to two terms of service only, this was not always the case. Below is a list of the longest serving presidents. 

Presidents Who Spent the Longest Time in Office

12. George W. Bush (2001-2009)

During George W. Bush's time in office, he signed the Medicare drug benefit into law, which was the biggest expansion of an entitlement program since the 1960's. He also imposed the biggest tax cut on income tax. Mr. Bush did lead America into a costly war with Iraq, which destroyed the country's surplus. America's economic performance was weak during his presidency. He also received both the highest and lowest approval rating ever for a president (90% and 25%), He is only the 4th president to win a general election without a majority of the popular vote (J.Q. Adams, Hayes, B. Harrison).

11. Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

During his time in office, Bill Clinton helped the economy have a record 115 months of economic expansion. He is also credited with having created 22 million new jobs during his administration. Mr. Clinton presided over the largest period of peacetime economic expansion in US history. Mr. Clinton did become only the second president to be impeached due to sexual misconduct allegations. The number of federal prisoners doubled under Clinton, and he failed to do anything to stop the genocide in Rwanda. Mr. Clinton is the second youngest president to be elected. He is the only U.S. President to have been born in Arkansas. He is the only president who was also a Rhodes Scholar.

10. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)

During his time in office, Reagan helped to end the Cold War by reversing the detente policy of easing tensions and standing firm against the Soviet Union. He helped to revitalize the Republican party following the Watergate scandal. Reagan also played a significant role in the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. The national debt did triple during Reagan's time in office and the Iran-Contra affair, secretly selling weapons to Iran, also took place while he served in the presidential office.

9. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

During his time in office, Mr. Eisenhower sponsored and signed the Federal Highway Act of 1956 which gave birth to America's modern day highway system. He launched NASA and signed civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960. Eisenhower also ended the Korean War. He did, however, fail to denounce Senator Joseph McCarthy in his witch-hunt like Communist investigations and he was unable to defuse the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Despite being in the military for 35 years, Mr. Eisenhower never saw active combat. He is one of four presidents who never held any elected office before becoming president

8. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)

Woodrow Wilson successfully guided America through World War I. Under Wilson, the Federal Reserve Act was created. The 20th amendment was signed by Wilson, which granted women the right to vote. Mr. Wilson failed to muster enough support to get Congress to ratify the Treaty of Versailles and join the League of Nations following the end of World War I. Mr. Wilson was president of Princeton University. He also made the first live remote national radio broadcast. He is also the only president to be buried in Washington, D.C.

7. Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897)

Grover Cleveland signed an act to create the Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate railroads. Cleveland also sent warships to Venezuela to help to mediate a border dispute with Britain and enforce the Monroe Doctrine. Mr. Cleveland was unable to manage the Panic of 1893 and the resulting depression that followed. He became unpopular with organized labor when he used federal troops to squash the Pullman railroad strike in 1894. Cleveland is the only president whose wedding ceremony was conducted in the White House.

6. Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)

Ulysses S. Grant encouraged passage of the 15th amendment and signed the Civil Rights Acts of 1870 and 1875 guaranteeing the protection of voting rights and equal rights to African-Americans. Grant also presided over the Panic of 1873, which caused the country to fall into deep recession. 

5. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)

Andrew Jackson is the forefather of the modern Democratic party. Jackson also strengthened the power of the presidency and was the first and only president to pay off the entire national debt. He also negotiated an exchange of shipping rights with the British West Indies in 1830. Mr. Jackson did violate the Supreme Court's ruling and went ahead with the Indian Removal Act, which forcibly removed many Native American peoples from their homes and resulted in the Trail of Tears. Mr. Jackson was the first target of the first attempted presidential assassination. Both of the assassin's guns misfired, and Jackson then beat him with a cane. He is also the only president to have been a former prisoner of war.

4. James Monroe (1817-1825)

Mr. Monroe established the Monroe Doctrine which announced United States' opposition to European involvement in the Americas. The country expanded to the Pacific under Mr. Monroe, and Florida was purchased from Spain. Mr. Monroe dealt with the issue of slavery during the Missouri compromise of 1820 and started the standard for having slave states and free states that would not be resolved until the Civil War. Mr. Monroe was the first president to travel by steamboat. He is the only person to have held two cabinet positions at the same time (Secretary of State and Secretary of War).

3. James Madison (1809-1817)

Mr. Madison led the nation through the War of 1812 and repelled the British Invasion of the United States. Mr. Madison signed Macon's Bill No. 2, which allowed English and French goods on American ships as long as trade rights were respected. Mr. Madison did fail to purchase West Florida from Spain and failed to gain any Canadian territory during the War of 1812 from Britain. Mr. Madison is the shortest US President ever at five foot four. He was a second cousin of future President Zachary Taylor.

2. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)

Mr. Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, doubling the size of the United States overnight. Mr. Jefferson also launched the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the rest of the continent. Mr. Jefferson also led America to victory in the First Barbary War (1801-05) against the Barbary States. Mr. Jefferson did fail to advocate for ending the institution of slavery and the Embargo Act of 1807 crippled the Southern economy. Mr. Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819, and he also sold his personal collection of thousands of books to the Library of Congress.

1. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945)

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the longest serving president in US history, having served from 1933 to 1945. Mr. Roosevelt guided America through the Great Depression and into and through most of World War II. He established the Social Security Act and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Mr. Roosevelt decreased unemployment from 25% to 2% over his tenure and developed the Good Neighbor Policy with Latin America to respect their sovereignty more. Mr. Roosevelt relocated Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War Two which is now considered a source of shame and a failure on his part. Mr. Roosevelt appointed the first woman, Frances Perkins, to a position in the Cabinet as the Secretary of Labor.

The Legacy of The Presidents

Being president for such a long time means that one has more time to cement their legacy and accomplish a "great thing." However, it also means more chances to slip up and tarnish that legacy. Being in a position of power for so long can take its toll on a person, mentally and physically. Thus, all the men mentioned above must have been possessors of unique quality to be the head of one of the most powerful nations of the world over an extended period and deserve recognition for the same.

Who Was the Longest-Serving President in US History?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President of the United States between 1933 and 1945, giving him the record for the longest term served of all American presidents.

Longest Serving United States Presidents

RankPresidentTime In Office
1Franklin Delano Roosevelt4,422 Days
2Thomas Jefferson2,922 Days
3James Madison2,922 Days
4James Monroe2,922 Days
5Andrew Jackson2,922 Days
6Ulysses S. Grant2,922 Days
7Grover Cleveland2,922 Days
8Woodrow Wilson2,922 Days
9Dwight D. Eisenhower2,922 Days
10Ronald Reagan2,922 Days
11Bill Clinton2,922 Days
12George W. Bush2,922 Days

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