US Senators And The Presidency

In recent days, we have looked at the record of Presidents who had been members of the House of Representatives and those who had been state Governors.

Now, we will examine those Presidents who served in the US Senate.

The record shows 16 US Senators who went on to become President, as compared to 19 who served in the House of Representatives and 17 who served as Governors of their states.

The majority of these 16 Senators served before the 20th century, and only three, all since 1900, were directly elected to the Presidency.

The list is as follows:

James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Andrew Johnson
Benjamin Harrison
Warren G. Harding
Harry Truman
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Barack Obama.

Warren G. Harding, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama were the three Senators elected directly to the Presidency, and only three others—Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon were elected by the people under the 17th Amendment, which was added to the Constitution in 1913.

John Tyler and Andrew Johnson succeeded to the Presidency upon the deaths of William Henry Harrison and Abraham Lincoln, and were not elected President, while Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, and then were elected to a full term of their own.

Andrew Johnson served in the Senate from Tennessee from 1857-1862, became President from 1865-1869, and then was elected again in 1875, serving a few months before his death, and is the only person who served in the Senate after being President.

Andrew Jackson served two separate times in the Senate, the second period ending in 1825, after he had won the popular vote, but would lose the Presidency in the House of Representatives to John Quincy Adams, part of the tumultuous Presidential Election of 1824.

Benjamin Harrison is the only other President before the 20th century to be a Senator close to the time when he became President, serving from 1881-1887, and being elected President in 1888, and serving from 1889-1893.

Only a few of these Presidents served for a long time in the Senate–Lyndon B. Johnson for 12 years; James Buchanan for 11 years; Harry Truman for 10 years; and John Tyler for 9 years.