People look out over the Mall from the Lincoln Memorial during a snowstorm early last month. (Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A few years ago around Presidents’ Day, I explored an idea that’s interesting to me: Which presidents were alive during another’s lifetime? There have been weird moments of synchronicity in the lives of our presidents, such as the fact that there is a photograph of a 6-year-old Teddy Roosevelt watching Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession in New York in 1865. But generally speaking, we forget that familiar time spans intersect in weird ways, such as how Betty White and Alexander Graham Bell were alive at the same time (albeit for only a few months in 1922).

I made this chart, now updated with our current president. A block on the intersection of two lines indicates that the two presidents’ lives overlapped to some extent.


One takeaway from that chart is that we’re just four presidential lives away from the Founding Fathers. John Adams — or Thomas Jefferson, if you want to talk about an author of the Declaration of Independence — was alive at the same time as Andrew Johnson. Johnson was alive at the same time as Herbert Hoover. Hoover was still alive when Trump was born.


But as a commenter noted after that original article, we can collapse American history even further. When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, Martin Van Buren was 6 years old. He died when William Howard Taft was 4. Taft died when George H.W. Bush was 6.


Or, to visualize that another way, using the inauguration of our first president, George Washington, as a benchmark, we can view the age of the United States like this.


(We’ll note that neither Bush nor the United States will necessarily cease to exist in 2018.)

Bush was born when Calvin Coolidge was president, who was born when Ulysses Grant was president, who was born when James Monroe was president, who was born when the United States was a British colony. (At that point, Britain was led by George III, who was born when George II was king, who was born when George I was king.)

On Presidents’ Day, then, a reminder: America is only three presidents old.