Heights of presidents and presidential candidates of the United States

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Presidents, like the U.S. population, have grown taller over time.

A record of the heights of the Presidents of the United States and presidential candidates is useful for evaluating what role, if any, height plays in presidential elections. Some observers have noted that the taller of the two major-party candidates tends to prevail, and argue this is due to the public's preference for taller candidates.[1]

The tallest U.S. Presidents were Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson at 6 ft 4 in (193 cm), while the shortest was James Madison at 5 ft 4 in (163 cm).

Barack Obama, the current President, is 6 ft 1 in (185 cm),[2][3] and Joe Biden, the current Vice-President, is 6 ft 0 in (183 cm).[4] Mitt Romney, Obama's opponent in the 2012 presidential election, is 6 ft 2 in (188 cm).[5]


U.S. Presidents by height order

Abraham Lincoln tied Lyndon B. Johnson as the tallest president at 6 ft 4 in (193 cm)
Lyndon B. Johnson tied Abraham Lincoln as the tallest president at 6 ft 4 in (193 cm).

James Madison, the shortest President, was 5 ft 4 in (163 cm).
RankNoPresidentHeightHeight (cm)refs
116Abraham Lincoln6 ft 4 in193 cm[6][7]
136Lyndon B. Johnson6 ft 4 in193 cm[7]
33Thomas Jefferson6 ft 2 12 in189 cm[7][8]
432Franklin D. Roosevelt6 ft 2 in188 cm[7]
441George H. W. Bush6 ft 2 in188 cm[7][9]
442Bill Clinton6 ft 2 in188 cm[7][9][10][11][12][13]
71George Washington6 ft 1 12 in187 cm[14]
87Andrew Jackson6 ft 1 in185 cm[7][15]
840Ronald Reagan6 ft 1 in185 cm[7]
844Barack Obama6 ft 1 in185 cm[2][3]
115James Monroe6 ft 0 in183 cm[7][16]
1110John Tyler6 ft 0 in183 cm[7]
1115James Buchanan6 ft 0 in183 cm[7]
1120James A. Garfield6 ft 0 in183 cm[7]
1121Chester A. Arthur6 ft 0 in183 cm[7]
1129Warren G. Harding6 ft 0 in183 cm[7]
1135John F. Kennedy6 ft 0 in183 cm[7]
1138Gerald Ford6 ft 0 in183 cm[7][17]
1927William Howard Taft5 ft 11 12 in182 cm[18]
1931Herbert Hoover5 ft 11 12 in182 cm[19]
1937Richard Nixon5 ft 11 12 in182 cm[7][17]
1943George W. Bush5 ft 11 12 in182 cm[20][21][22][23]
2322Grover Cleveland5 ft 11 in180 cm[7]
2328Woodrow Wilson5 ft 11 in180 cm[7][24]
2534Dwight D. Eisenhower5 ft 10 12 in179 cm[7]
2614Franklin Pierce5 ft 10 in178 cm[7]
2617Andrew Johnson5 ft 10 in178 cm[7]
2626Theodore Roosevelt5 ft 10 in178 cm[7][16]
2630Calvin Coolidge5 ft 10 in178 cm[7]
3039Jimmy Carter5 ft 9 12 in177 cm[7][17]
3113Millard Fillmore5 ft 9 in175 cm[7]
3133Harry S Truman5 ft 9 in175 cm[7]
3319Rutherford B. Hayes5 ft 8 12 in174 cm[7][25]
349William Henry Harrison5 ft 8 in173 cm[7]
3411James K. Polk5 ft 8 in173 cm[7][26]
3412Zachary Taylor5 ft 8 in173 cm[7][16]
3418Ulysses S. Grant5 ft 8 in173 cm[27]
386John Quincy Adams5 ft 7 12 in171 cm[28]
392John Adams5 ft 7 in170 cm[7][29]
3925William McKinley5 ft 7 in170 cm[7]
4123Benjamin Harrison5 ft 6 in168 cm[30]
418Martin Van Buren5 ft 6 in168 cm[31]
434James Madison5 ft 4 in163 cm[7][32]


The average height of the 43 men who have been President is 70.8 inches (180 cm). Over time there has been a slightly rising trend in this average, reflecting the increased height of the general U.S. population, although some of the tallest Presidents are from early United States history. The average height of male Americans nationwide in 2005 was 5 ft 9.2 in (69.2 in; 175.8 cm).[33]

Electoral success as a function of height

Graph of winner v. loser heights in Presidential elections from 1789 - 2004. (Click to enlarge)

Various folk wisdoms about U.S. presidential politics put forward the view that the taller of the two major-party candidates always wins or almost always wins since the advent of the televised presidential debate. A study of the numbers reveals these claims are exaggerated at best.

As the chart below shows, in the 28 presidential elections between 1900 and 2011, 18 of the winning candidates have been taller than their opponents, while 8 have been shorter, and 2 have been of the same height. The claims about taller candidates winning almost all modern presidential elections is still pervasive, however. Examples of such views include:

A comparison of the heights of the winning presidential candidate with the losing candidate from each election since 1789 is provided below to evaluate such views.

Comparative table of heights of United States presidential candidates

  Tallest candidate was inaugurated   Tallest candidate was not inaugurated 
  Winner and tallest opponent were of the same height  Comparison data unavailable 
in Electoral College
HeightMain opponent(s)
during election
2008Barack Obama6 ft 1 in185 cmJohn McCain[41]5 ft 9 in175 cm4 in10 cm
2004George W. Bush5 ft 11 12 in182 cmJohn Kerry[17]6 ft 4 in193 cm4½ in11 cm
2000George W. Bush5 ft 11 12 in182 cmAl Gore*[9][42]6 ft 1 in185 cm1½ in3 cm
1996Bill Clinton6 ft 2 in188 cmBob Dole[43]6 ft 1 12 in187 cm½ in1 cm
1992Bill Clinton6 ft 2 in188 cmGeorge H.W. Bush6 ft 2 in188 cm0 in0 cm
1988George H.W. Bush6 ft 2 in188 cmMichael Dukakis[44]5 ft 8 in173 cm6 in15 cm
1984Ronald Reagan6 ft 1 in185 cmWalter Mondale[9]5 ft 11 in180 cm2 in5 cm
1980Ronald Reagan6 ft 1 in185 cmJimmy Carter5 ft 9 12 in177 cm3½ in8 cm
1976Jimmy Carter5 ft 9 12 in177 cmGerald Ford6 ft 0 in183 cm2½ in6 cm
1972Richard Nixon5 ft 11 12 in182 cmGeorge McGovern[17][45]6 ft 1 in185 cm1½ in3 cm
1968Richard Nixon5 ft 11 12 in182 cmHubert Humphrey[45]5 ft 11 in180 cm½ in2 cm
1964Lyndon B. Johnson6 ft 4 in193 cmBarry Goldwater[45]5 ft 11 in180 cm5 in13 cm
1960John F. Kennedy6 ft 0 in183 cmRichard Nixon5 ft 11 12 in182 cm½ in1 cm
1956Dwight D. Eisenhower5 ft 10 12 in179 cmAdlai Stevenson II[45]5 ft 10 in178 cm½ in1 cm
1952Dwight D. Eisenhower5 ft 10 12 in179 cmAdlai Stevenson II5 ft 10 in178 cm½ in1 cm
1948Harry S. Truman5 ft 9 in175 cmThomas Dewey[44][45]5 ft 8 in173 cm1 in2 cm
1944Franklin D. Roosevelt6 ft 2 in188 cmThomas Dewey5 ft 8 in173 cm6 in15 cm
1940Franklin D. Roosevelt6 ft 2 in188 cmWendell Willkie[45][46]6 ft 2 in188 cm0 in0 cm
1936Franklin D. Roosevelt6 ft 2 in188 cmAlfred Landon[45]5 ft 11 in180 cm3 in8 cm
1932Franklin D. Roosevelt6 ft 2 in188 cmHerbert Hoover5 ft 11 12 in182 cm2½ in6 cm
1928Herbert Hoover5 ft 11 12 in182 cmAl Smith[45]5 ft 11 in180 cm½ in2 cm
1924Calvin Coolidge5 ft 10 in178 cmJohn W. Davis[45]5 ft 11 in180 cm1 in2 cm
1920Warren G. Harding6 ft 0 in183 cmJames M. Cox[47]5 ft 6 in168 cm6 in15 cm
1916Woodrow Wilson5 ft 11 in180 cmCharles Evans Hughes[45]5 ft 10 in178 cm1 in2 cm
1912Woodrow Wilson5 ft 11 in180 cmWilliam Howard Taft5 ft 11 12 in182 cm½ in2 cm
Theodore Roosevelt5 ft 10 in178 cm1 in2 cm
1908William Howard Taft5 ft 11 12 in182 cmWilliam Jennings Bryan[48][49][50][51]5 ft 11 in180 cm½ in2 cm
1904Theodore Roosevelt5 ft 10 in178 cmAlton B. Parker[45]5 ft 9 in175 cm1 in3 cm
1900William McKinley5 ft 7 in170 cmWilliam Jennings Bryan5 ft 11 in180 cm4 in10 cm
1896William McKinley5 ft 7 in170 cmWilliam Jennings Bryan5 ft 11 in180 cm4 in10 cm
1892Grover Cleveland5 ft 11 in180 cmBenjamin Harrison5 ft 6 in168 cm5 in12 cm
1888Benjamin Harrison5 ft 6 in168 cmGrover Cleveland*5 ft 11 in180 cm5 in12 cm
1884Grover Cleveland5 ft 11 in180 cmJames G. Blaine[52]5 ft 11 in180 cm0 in0 cm
1880James A. Garfield6 ft 0 in183 cmWinfield Hancock[53]6 ft 1 12 in187 cm1½ in4 cm
1876Rutherford B. Hayes5 ft 8 12 in174 cmSamuel Tilden*[54]5 ft 10 in178 cm1½ in4 cm
1872Ulysses S. Grant5 ft 8 in173 cmHorace Greeley[55]5 ft 10 in178 cm2 in5 cm
1868Ulysses S. Grant5 ft 8 in173 cmHoratio Seymour   
1864Abraham Lincoln6 ft 4 in193 cmGeorge B. McClellan[56]5 ft 8 in173 cm8 in20 cm
1860Abraham Lincoln6 ft 4 in193 cmJohn C. Breckinridge[57]
Stephen A. Douglas[58]
6 ft 2 in
5 ft 4 in
188 cm
163 cm
2 in
12 in
5 cm
30 cm
1856James Buchanan72 in6 ft 0 in183 cmMillard Fillmore
John C. Frémont[59]
69 in5 ft 9 in
5 ft 9 in
175 cm
175 cm
3 in
3 in
8 cm
8 cm
1852Franklin Pierce5 ft 10 in178 cmWinfield Scott[60]6 ft 5 in196 cm7 in18 cm
1848Zachary Taylor5 ft 8 in173 cmLewis Cass[61]5 ft 8 12 in174 cm½ in1 cm
1844James K. Polk5 ft 8 in173 cmHenry Clay[62]6 ft 1 in185 cm5 in13 cm
1840William Henry Harrison5 ft 8 in173 cmMartin Van Buren5 ft 6 in168 cm2 in5 cm
1836Martin Van Buren66 in5 ft 6 in168 cmHugh Lawson White[63]
William Henry Harrison
5 ft 11 in
68 in5 ft 8 in
180 cm
173 cm
5 in
2 in
12 cm
5 cm
1832Andrew Jackson6 ft 1 in185 cmHenry Clay6 ft 1 in185 cm0 in0 cm
1828Andrew Jackson6 ft 1 in185 cmJohn Quincy Adams5 ft 7 12 in171 cm5½ in14 cm
1824John Quincy Adams5 ft 7 12 in171 cmWilliam H. Crawford[64][65]
Andrew Jackson*
Henry Clay
6 ft 3 in
73 in6 ft 1 in
73 in6 ft 1 in
191 cm
185 cm
185 cm
7½ in
5½ in
5½ in
20 cm
14 cm
14 cm
1820James Monroe6 ft 0 in183 cm     
1816James Monroe6 ft 0 in183 cmRufus King    
1812James Madison5 ft 4 in163 cmDe Witt Clinton[66]6 ft 3 in191 cm11 in28 cm
1808James Madison5 ft 4 in163 cmCharles C. Pinckney    
1804Thomas Jefferson74.5 in6 ft 2½ in189 cmCharles C. Pinckney    
1800Thomas Jefferson6 ft 2 12 in189 cmJohn Adams5 ft 7 in170 cm7½ in19 cm
1796John Adams5 ft 7 in170 cmThomas Jefferson6 ft 2 12 in189 cm7½ in19 cm
1792George Washington6 ft 1 12 in187 cm     
1789George Washington6 ft 1 12 in187 cm     


* Lost the Electoral Vote, but received more popular votes.

† Ran unopposed

Statistical breakdown

For the 49 contested elections in which the heights of all the major-party candidates are known, the tallest candidate won 26 times (about 53 percent of the elections), a shorter candidate won 19 times (about 39 percent of the elections), and the winning candidate and tallest opponent were of the same height four times (about eight percent of the elections).

The tallest candidate has won 19 of 28 elections since 1900 but, conversely, between the 1789 and 1924 elections, shorter candidates won 15 elections while the tallest candidates won only 11.

One important point to note is that there have been three cases where the tallest candidate received more popular votes than the shorter, winning candidate but lost the election at the electoral college. This occurred in the 1876, 1888 and 2000 elections; the tallest candidate still did not receive the most votes in the other election where an opponent won more votes than the winner (1824). This means that the tallest candidate has won the majority of popular votes 29 times (about 59 percent) and a shorter candidate has done this only 16 times (about 33 percent).

These figures lend some support to the belief that the taller candidate prevails in presidential elections, but the win-loss margin is smaller than what has been suggested in the above-mentioned sources.

OutcomeElectoral vote winnerPopular vote winner
Tallest candidate among the major parties wins53 percent of the time59 percent of the time
A shorter candidate wins39 percent of the time33 percent of the time
Winner and tallest opponent same height8 percent of the time8 percent of the time


The tallest President elected to office was Abraham Lincoln (6 ft 4 in or 193 cm); the tallest President to originally enter the office by means other than election was Lyndon B. Johnson (6 ft 4 in or 193 cm). The shortest President elected to office was James Madison (5 ft 4 in or 163 cm); the shortest President to originally enter the office by means other than election is tied between Millard Fillmore and Harry S. Truman (both were 5 ft 9 in or 175 cm).

The tallest unsuccessful presidential candidate (who is also the tallest of all presidential candidates) is Winfield Scott, who stood at 6 ft 5 in (196 cm) and lost the 1852 election to Franklin Pierce, who stood at 5 ft 10 in (178 cm). The second tallest unsuccessful candidate is John Kerry, at 6 ft 4 in (193 cm). The shortest unsuccessful presidential candidate is Stephen A. Douglas, at 5 ft 4 in (163 cm). The next shortest is tied between two sitting Presidents, Martin Van Buren and Benjamin Harrison, who lost their respective elections in 1840 and 1892 and were both 5 ft 6 in (168 cm).

The largest height difference between two presidential candidates (out of the candidates whose heights are known) was in the 1860 election, when Abraham Lincoln stood 12 inches (30 cm) taller than opponent Stephen A. Douglas. The second-largest difference was in the 1812 election, with De Witt Clinton standing 11 inches (28 cm) taller than incumbent James Madison.


  1. ^ As some examples,USA TODAY listed height among six criteria for predicting who would win the 2004 election; a Washington Post blog noted the significance of height in physical appearance and its effect on voters. See the discussion of this phenomenon later in the article for further examples.
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  43. ^ The Washington Post listed Dole at 6'2"/1.88 m, USA TODAY listed him at 6'1"/1.85 m
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  48. ^ Gillis, Too Tall, Too Small, p. 20. Lists his height as 5 ft 10 in (178 cm).
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  52. ^ Records of his height have been difficult to obtain. In one biography, he was described as "just under six feet in height". While not a definitive record of his height, this description does allow us to presume he was at least comparable in height to Cleveland. See Crawford, Thomas Clark (1893). James G. Blaine: A Study of his Life and Career, from the Standpoint of a Personal Witness of the Principal Events in his History. Edgewood Publishing Co.. p. 26. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=8T8OAAAAIAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s&pgis=1. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
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  58. ^ Johanssen, Robert W. (1973). Stephen A. Douglas. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 4. 
  59. ^ Life of John Charles Fremont. New York: Greeley & McElrath. 1856. p. 31. http://www.archive.org/details/lifeofjohncharle00greerich. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  60. ^ Heidler, David Stephen (2004). Encyclopedia of the War of 1812. Naval Institute Press. p. 464. ISBN 1-59114-362-4. http://books.google.com/books?id=_c09EJgek50C&pg=PA465&lpg=PA465&dq=winfield+scott+height&source=bl&ots=MAagZuJady&sig=93MlE859Ya4rzFDYxqWg2LIA3HE&hl=en&ei=QegPSurGHcKHkAWly_muBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9#PPA464,M1. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  61. ^ According to Cass's biography, he was "about five foot eight or nine inches". See Woodford, Frank B. (1950). Lewis Cass: The Last Jeffersonian. New Brunswick and New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. p. 32. 
  62. ^ Seymour, Chas C. B. (1858). Self-made men. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 137. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=PaH8F0-HeToC&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  63. ^ Scott, Nancy N. (1856). A Memoir of Hugh Lawson White, Judge of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, Member of the Senate of the United States, etc., etc.. Michigan: J. B. Lippincott & Co.. p. 243. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=0CbKkRjp7_4C&dq=hugh+lawson+white&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  64. ^ Mooney, Chase Curran (1974). William H. Crawford, 1772-1834. Michigan: University of Kentucky Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-8131-1270-2. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=XS13AAAAMAAJ&q=william+h.+crawford&dq=william+h.+crawford&pgis=1. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  65. ^ One biography of Crawford describes his stature as being "considerably over six feet". See Butler, Benjamin F. (1824). Sketches of the Life and Character of William H. Crawford. Albany: Packard and Benthuysen. p. 35. 
  66. ^ Cornog, Evan, The Birth of Empire: DeWitt Clinton and the American Experience, 1769-1828, ISBN 0-19-514051-6


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