Most Common Presidential Maladies

Langston Jones: Kid Historian
4 min readSep 10, 2020

I really found the research I did for my presidential octogenarian blog post so interesting that I made health flash cards and decided to write a new blog post about the most common maladies.

George Washington Dying of Pneumonia
  1. Pneumonia — Pneumonia is a swelling of the lungs caused by bacteria or virus. To prevent from getting it, don’t smoke and wash your hands a lot. There have been 10 presidents known to have pneumonia. Only four of them died of it: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, William Henry Harrison, and Benjamin Harrison.
Franklin Pierce as a Soldier

2. Depression — Of course, it’s impossible to die of depression, but there was a president who died of problems he got from alcohol, and he drank alcohol because of depression. It was Franklin Pierce who really died of stomach inflammation. He had depression because his first wife and all his children died before he was president. Eight presidents are known to have had depression. I was surprised to read Thomas Jefferson had depression. I was not surprised by John Adams or Abraham Lincoln.

John Quincy Adams Having a Stroke (he looks young here, but he is actually 80)

3. Stroke — Woodrow Wilson had a very big stroke in 1918 or 1919 and lived several years before he died of the same stroke in 1924. But Wilson wasn’t the only president who died of a stroke. A total of nine presidents had strokes. John Quincy Adams actually died of a stroke in the U.S. Capital building. FDR was the only president to die of a stroke while in office.

Teddy Roosevelt in the Amazon, where he Caught Malaria

4. Malaria — A long time ago, more people in the U.S. had malaria. I found more presidents who had it a long time ago than in around the last 100 years. Seven presidents had malaria, including George Washington, James Monroe, and Andy Jackson.

Harding’s Last Words: “That’s good. Go on, read some more.”

5. Heart Attack — Warren Harding was the only president believed to have died of a heart attack while in office. But he may have died of a stroke or been poisoned by his wife. Six other presidents are known to have had heart attacks.

Coolidge Dies of Heart Problems

6. Heart Failure — Look at the newspaper headline above. That president next to Harding (Coolidge) also died of heart problems — not heart attack but heart failure. It’s more likely to die of heart failure if you’re overweight or obese. But President Coolidge wasn’t overweight. In fact, he was one of the skinniest presidents. A total of six presidents are known to have had heart failure. Martin Van Buren survived heart failure.

Germ of Dysentery

7. Dysentery — A total of six president had dysentery. One president who had dysentery was the main writer of The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. (Never Google the term “dysentery toilet,” or you’ll find gross pictures, like we did.)

Grant Writing his Memoirs while he Dies of Throat Cancer

8. Cancer — Even the longest living president, Jimmy Carter, had cancer. He had skin cancer and recovered at age 91. Ulysses Grant smoked and drank a lot and ended up dying of throat cancer. A total of six presidents had cancer, including Lincoln.

Taft — This might be after he lost weight because to me he doesn’t look like he has a BMI over 40. In fact, he doesn’t even look obese.

9. Obesity — At least six presidents were obese. Because of their obesity, both Taft and Cleveland had sleep apnea and heart problems. Taft also had lower back pain. Cleveland didn’t die of his heart problems; Taft did. After leaving office, Taft lost 80 pounds, bringing him to 260 pounds, which made him skinnier than Cleveland had been.


Originally published at on September 10, 2020.



Langston Jones: Kid Historian

I am an eight year old who’s interested in presidents and history. I’m posting some of my favorite lists for you!