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

Updated September 2, 2020 35.3k votes 5.3k voters 397.3k 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:
  • The Great Depression was not so great for Herbert Hoover, who rapidly became a gray-haired president. You can almost watch Hoover's downward spiral, in terms of aging, in correlation with the downward spiral of the economy he was presiding over.
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  • LBJ looked considerably older after the Vietnam War was underway. Of course, President Johnson came into a very stressful office, considering JFK's assassination.

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  • Ronald Reagan was always the oldest president, but his transition to the absolute oldest-looking president is startling. The Iran-Contra affair took a toll on the President, as the picture on the right clearly reveals.
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