Earliest serving United States Senator

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This page contains a list of the earliest serving United States Senators among those currently living (sitting or former) and a list of the individuals who, at the time of their deaths, had served at the earliest date in the United States Senate among those current or former senators then living. Of those living, the earliest-serving Senator is Birch Bayh. He was sworn in as a Senator on January 3, 1963.

Earliest serving Senators (historic)[edit]

This is a list of the senators who were, while in office or after, the earliest-serving living before they died.

Begin Date End Date Senator State 1st Entered Senate
March 4, 1789 November 14, 1832 Tie between the 21 original members
of the 1st United States Senate while alive.
March 4, 1789
November 14, 1832 March 7, 1838 Paine Wingate New Hampshire
March 7, 1838 February 23, 1840 John Rutherfurd New Jersey March 4, 1791
February 23, 1840 August 12, 1849 Albert Gallatin Pennsylvania December 2, 1793
August 12, 1849 December 22, 1850 William Plumer New Hampshire June 17, 1802
December 22, 1850 June 29, 1852 Henry Clay Kentucky November 19, 1806
June 29, 1852 October 14, 1853 Elisha Mathewson Rhode Island October 26, 1807
October 14, 1853 November 5, 1857 Alexander Campbell Ohio December 11, 1809
November 5, 1857 April 14, 1859 George M. Bibb Kentucky March 4, 1811
April 14, 1859 July 26, 1863 John J. Crittenden Kentucky March 4, 1817
July 26, 1863 September 4, 1864 Henry Johnson Louisiana January 12, 1818
September 4, 1864 December 14, 1868 Walter Lowrie Pennsylvania March 4, 1819
December 14, 1868 October 13, 1880 Peleg Sprague Massachusetts March 4, 1829
October 13, 1880 March 19, 1888 John P. King Georgia November 21, 1833
March 19, 1888 May 11, 1889 Henry A. Foster New York November 30, 1844
May 11, 1889 June 26, 1889 Simon Cameron Pennsylvania March 13, 1845
June 26, 1889 June 13, 1896 Alpheus Felch Michigan March 4, 1847
January 6, 1901 James Bradbury Maine
January 6, 1901 April 12, 1913 John B. Henderson Missouri January 17, 1862
April 12, 1913 September 11, 1915 William Sprague Rhode Island March 4, 1863
September 11, 1915 February 27, 1919 George F. Edmunds Vermont April 3, 1866
February 27, 1919 November 3, 1924 Cornelius Cole California March 4, 1867
November 3, 1924 April 12, 1933 Adelbert Ames Mississippi February 23, 1870
April 12, 1933 November 16, 1933 Henry C. Hansbrough North Dakota March 4, 1891
November 16, 1933 November 18, 1934 Lee Mantle Montana January 16, 1895
November 18, 1934 June 3, 1938 Marion Butler North Carolina March 4, 1895
June 3, 1938 October 21, 1938 Henry Heitfeld Idaho March 4, 1897
October 21, 1938 April 30, 1940 Furnifold Simmons North Carolina March 4, 1901
April 30, 1940 February 9, 1941 Reed Smoot Utah March 4, 1903
February 9, 1941 March 13, 1945 Charles W. F. Dick Ohio March 23, 1904
March 13, 1945 January 5, 1960 Norris Brown Nebraska March 4, 1907
January 5, 1960 May 31, 1962 Henry F. Ashurst Arizona March 27, 1912
January 5, 1960 December 28, 1972 John Heiskell Arkansas January 6, 1913
December 28, 1972 January 6, 1975 Burton K. Wheeler Montana March 4, 1923
January 14, 1978 Clarence Dill Washington
January 14, 1978 August 16, 1979 F. Ryan Duffy Wisconsin March 4, 1933
August 16, 1979 March 13, 1985 Elmer Austin Benson Minnesota December 27, 1935
March 13, 1985 May 30, 1989 Claude Pepper Florida November 4, 1936
May 30, 1989 September 22, 1990 John A. Danaher Connecticut January 3, 1939
September 22, 1990 June 15, 1991 Happy Chandler Kentucky October 10, 1939
June 15, 1991 December 18, 1993 Joseph H. Ball Minnesota October 14, 1940
December 18, 1993 January 21, 1999 Berkeley L. Bunker Nevada November 27, 1940
January 21, 1999 May 9, 2003 Russell B. Long Louisiana December 31, 1948
May 9, 2003 January 20, 2007 George Smathers Florida January 3, 1951
January 20, 2007 June 28, 2010 Robert Byrd[1] West Virginia January 3, 1959
June 28, 2010 October 21, 2012 George McGovern South Dakota January 3, 1963
December 17, 2012 Daniel Inouye[1] Hawaii
present Birch Bayh Indiana

Earliest serving Senators currently living[edit]

This is a list of the 30 earliest-serving senators,[2] current or former, currently living.

Rank Senator Date of birth Entered Senate Left Senate State served Party Time since entry
1 Birch Bayh January 22, 1928 January 3, 1963 January 3, 1981 Indiana Democrat 51 years, 271 days
2 Fred R. Harris November 13, 1930 November 4, 1964 January 3, 1973 Oklahoma Democrat 49 years, 331 days
3 Walter Mondale January 5, 1928 December 30, 1964 December 30, 1976 Minnesota Democrat 49 years, 275 days
4 Joseph Tydings May 4, 1928 January 3, 1965 January 3, 1971 Maryland Democrat 49 years, 271 days
5 Robert P. Griffin November 6, 1923 May 11, 1966 January 2, 1979 Michigan Republican 48 years, 143 days
6 Ernest Hollings January 1, 1922 November 9, 1966 January 3, 2005 South Carolina Democrat 47 years, 326 days
7 Edward Brooke October 26, 1919 January 3, 1967 January 3, 1979 Massachusetts Republican 47 years, 271 days
8 Marlow Cook July 27, 1926 December 17, 1968 December 27, 1974 Kentucky Republican 45 years, 288 days
9 Bob Dole July 22, 1923 January 3, 1969 June 1, 1996 Kansas Republican 45 years, 271 days
Mike Gravel May 13, 1930 January 3, 1981 Alaska Democrat
Bob Packwood September 11, 1932 October 1, 1995 Oregon Republican
Richard Schweiker June 1, 1926 January 3, 1981 Pennsylvania Republican
13 Adlai Stevenson III October 10, 1930 November 17, 1970 January 3, 1981 Illinois Democrat 43 years, 318 days
14 John V. Tunney June 26, 1934 January 2, 1971 January 1, 1977 California Democrat 43 years, 272 days
15 Bill Brock November 23, 1930 January 3, 1971 January 3, 1977 Tennessee Republican 43 years, 271 days
James L. Buckley March 9, 1923 January 3, 1977 New York Conservative
Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. May 16, 1931 January 3, 1989 Connecticut Republican
18 David H. Gambrell December 20, 1929 February 1, 1971 November 8, 1972 Georgia Democrat 43 years, 242 days
19 Elaine S. Edwards March 8, 1929 August 1, 1972 November 13, 1972 Louisiana Democrat 42 years, 61 days
20 Sam Nunn September 8, 1938 November 8, 1972 January 3, 1997 Georgia Democrat 41 years, 327 days
21 Bennett Johnston Jr. June 10, 1932 November 13, 1972 January 3, 1997 Louisiana Democrat 41 years, 322 days
22 James Abourezk February 24, 1931 January 3, 1973 January 3, 1979 South Dakota Democrat 41 years, 271 days
Joe Biden November 20, 1942 January 15, 2009 Delaware Democrat
Dick Clark September 14, 1928 January 3, 1979 Iowa Democrat
Pete Domenici May 7, 1932 January 3, 2009 New Mexico Republican
Walter Huddleston April 15, 1926 January 3, 1985 Kentucky Democrat
27 Paul Laxalt August 2, 1922 December 18, 1974 January 3, 1987 Nevada Republican 39 years, 287 days
28 Jake Garn October 12, 1932 December 21, 1974 January 3, 1993 Utah Republican 39 years, 284 days
29 John Glenn July 18, 1921 December 24, 1974 January 3, 1999 Ohio Democrat 39 years, 281 days
30 Wendell H. Ford September 8, 1924 December 28, 1974 January 3, 1999 Kentucky Democrat 39 years, 277 days

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Attained most Senior Senator status while serving uninterrupted terms.
  2. ^ Source: US Senate Historical Office's "Senators, 1789 to Present."