Weird History
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U.S. Presidents Before and After Major Historical Events

Updated September 2, 2020 35.0k votes 5.3k voters 395.9k views11 items

This list of US presidents before and after major historical events gives visual insight into the presidential aging process. The ways in which big decisions, political scandals, and international warfare take a toll on a president becomes abundantly clear with the photographs below. See the ways in which World War II affected the Commander in Chief or the drastic difference between a pre-Iran-Contra Ronald Reagan and a post-Iran-Contra Ronald Reagan.

From FDR to LBJ, these presidential before and after photos are astounding. This job comes with gray hairs and wrinkles, as President Bill Clinton learned the hard way, given this appearance once impeachment was on the table. Speaking of impeachment, Richard Nixon got even saggier after the Watergate scandal, just as George W. Bush became far crustier once he was knee deep in the Iraq War. Even President Barack Obama shows intense aging after Benghazi and HealthCare.gov.

Which historical events took the biggest toll on sitting US presidents? Upvote the photos below that show the most drastic difference between the appearance of these US political leaders early in their terms, and later on, after the realities of politics and government affairs wore them down.

Photo:
  • Bill Clinton's wrinkles decided to show up after a woman named Monica Lewinsky entered his life -- or perhaps a man named Kenneth Starr. President Clinton's impeachment trials were evidently quite stressful.

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  • Jimmy Carter was changed by the Iran hostage crisis, as were international relations overall. For Carter, you can see it in his face.

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  • Harry Truman wasn't exactly a young man when he entered the Oval Office. However, these two photos show the distinction between his first years as president and the years towards the end. On the right, you can see President Truman has aged considerably after making the call to drop the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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  • Even once Richard Nixon committed the Watergate crimes, he did not look terribly aged. His rapid aging was a result of the scandal actually breaking, as you can see a bespectacled President Nixon saying farewell to his job.
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