Incomplete Presidential Terms


A couple of years ago, I did a post on the eight Presidents who died in office and the Curse of Tippecanoe. This got me thinking about which Presidents did not complete their terms. There were, of course, the eight who died, plus one more, Richard Nixon, who resigned from office in 1974 facing impeachment and removal related to his role in the Watergate scandal.

The list of uncompleted Presidencies is below. The shocking thing is how often Presidents don’t complete their terms. We did well between Washington and William Henry Harrison, who was the ninth President in the 14th term. After that, it falls apart.

Incomplete Presidencies

PresidentElectedTermCause of DeathPresident NumberDeath Term Number
William Henry Harrison18401841Pneumonia914
Zachary Taylor18481849-1850Stomach Illness1216
Abraham Lincoln18601861-1865Assassinated1620
James A. Garfield18801881Assassinated2024
William McKinley19001897-1901Assassinated2529
Warren G. Harding19201921-1923Heart Attack2934
Franklin D. Roosevelt19401933-1945Stroke3240
John F. Kennedy19601961-1963Assassinated3544
Richard Nixon19691969-1974Resigned3747

Then, we went just two terms until Zachary Taylor died in the 16th term, and then only four more terms until Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in the 20th terms.This pattern of three to six terms until the next incomplete Presidency continued until Nixon, who resigned in the 47th term.

It is interesting to note that we are long overdue for a President to fail to complete his term, as Donald Trump is the 45th President, serving the 58th term — a gap of 11 terms since Nixon resigned.

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