Of the 44 men who have served as President, less than a third, or only 31% of them have served a full two terms.  Here’s a list of the 14 Presidents who have served two terms:

  • George Washington
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • James Monroe
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Ulysses Grant
  • Grover Cleveland
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Franklin Roosevelt
  • Dwight Eisenhower
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Bill Clinton
  • George W. Bush
  • Barack Obama

Notes on 2 term presidents:

  • George Washington:  Washington’s term was actually short of two full terms since his inauguration didn’t occur until April 30, 1789, instead of March 4, which was the beginning of all presidential terms of office until it was changed by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution to January 20 for Franklin Roosevelt’s second inauguration in 1937.
  • Grover Cleveland:  Cleveland’s two full terms were served non-consecutively.  He was first elected in 1884, but was defeated by Benjamin Harrison in the Electoral College (but not the popular vote) in the election of 1888.  Cleveland came back in 1892 to defeat Harrison and serve a second term, the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms.
  • Woodrow Wilson:  Wilson’s last year and a half as President were marred by his incapacitation due to a massive stroke he suffered in the fall of 1919.  During this time, his wife, Edith controlled access to the President, and many argue was essentially running the government.

Almost 2 terms:  Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman, who both succeeded to the presidency upon the death of the president, each served almost a full two terms.  Roosevelt’s presidency was about six months short of two full terms, and Truman’s was a little less than three months short of two full terms.

Elected to 2 terms, but didn’t serve:  Three Presidents were elected to two terms, but didn’t serve for two full terms:  Abraham Lincoln (assassinated), William McKinley (assassinated), and Richard Nixon (resigned).

Mike Purdy’s Presidential History Blog 
© 2013 by Michael E. Purdy