How Old Was the Youngest Congressman?

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, at age 29. How old was the youngest man ever elected to the House of Representatives, when he was elected? Recall that the constitutional minimum is 25 ("No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years ….").


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  1. Depends on how they self-identify. And when. If, say, AOC were to self-identify as a man, right now, would that restart her age clock? What if she self-identified as a 25 year old man?

    1. If Occluded-Cortex self-identified as a man, would that render her too young to be a congressman since she would be but a few hours old?

      1. Please, her self-discovery as a man would relate back to the time of her birth, don’t you know *anything*?

      2. would that render HIM too young to be a congressman since HE would be but a few hours old?

        1. Disregard the flag. I just clicked on it to figure out what it was/did.
          (My nom de comment says it all, I guess.)

  2. William Claiborne was apparently a congressman at 22-24, notwithstanding the age restrictions. It was at a time when these things were not strictly monitored.

    1. Fascinating! I’ll guess that when not everybody knew their exact birth date, it was not worth arguing about. But he voted in the Presidential election when the Electoral College was tied; it took the House 36 ballots to pick Jefferson, and I wonder if anyone thought of contesting his age.

      Claiborne served in the House through 1801. The United States presidential election of 1800 was decided in the House of Representatives, due to a tie in the Electoral College, by which time Claiborne had already turned 25 years old.

      1. But he voted in the Presidential election when the Electoral College was tied; it took the House 36 ballots to pick Jefferson, and I wonder if anyone thought of contesting his age.

        That’s truly amazing. If you can imagine such a scenario occuring now (and you really can’t)- of course he would be challenged in court immediately upon winning, and if he cast a vote in a Presidential election throwing it to one candidate or the other, the losing candidate would bring another such court challenge.

        1. I can imagine it. That’s the story I told my boss on Election Day 2016 – there might be enough Johnson votes to throw the decision to the House, which would invariably deadlock resulting in a Ryan Presidency.

          I got her to vote Libertarian for the first time in her life with that hope 🙂

          1. I voted libertarian in 2016. So long as I’m a resident of DC, I always vote for the highest polling 3rd party in the hopes of their getting matching funds the next cycle.

            Otherwise my vote is more irrelevant than most.

            Though I may move to VA soon; that’ll make things matter.

      2. Because of the change in the calendar used, we’re not even sure exactly how old George Washington was when elected….

        1. Most people who are aware of the 11 (?) day jump forward are not aware that they changed the first of the year from March 25 to January 1, so George Washington (and a lot of other people) suddenly got a year older.

    2. I think that is correct.

      1. I should note, as Aaron Clements noted on our Facebook page, that there’s some doubt about whether Claiborne was 22, 23, or 24 when he was elected, though when I looked into it in 2010 ( it looked to me like the dominant view was that he was 22.

    3. Produce his long-form birth certificate!

      1. Yeah. Those redacted Certifications of Live Birth are not real Birth Certificates.

    4. Claiborne certainly seemed like a political go-getter in the fullest sense of the word.

      Tennessee Supreme Court Justice at age ~23
      US Congressman at ~24
      2nd Governor of Mississippi at ~28
      1st Governor of Louisiana at ~30
      before briefly becoming one of the state’s first US Senators at ~42 and dying less than a year into his term.

      Guess he shouldn’t have worked so hard.

  3. If the criteria were age equivalency by mental capacity I’d say Hank Johnson or Alan Grayson.

    1. You must be fun at parties.

    2. Conservatives are getting better at comedy, and it’s making lefties nervous

  4. Would you also accept Richard Aldrich, the precocious Congressman elected at age 10?

    (He was, of course, born on February 29).

    1. You forget that 1900 wasn’t a leap year. Aldrich was born in 1884 and took his seat in 1923, before his 9th birthday.

  5. An out-of-left-field reference to a clinger bogeywoman on the second day of the impeachment proceeding?

    A federal court nomination may be imminent. Hard-earned, if it develops.

    1. I actually learned something from this post.

      1. Same here. Arthur, you are way off.

        1. You are welcome to gauge the Conspirators’ motivation and performance in this context as you wish, to the point of concluding that the Conspirators are not ducking natural issues of the day with vivid cowardice or attempting to distract from those issues for shabby partisan and personal purpose.

          1. If it was someone other than Eugene, I might agree, but he likes posting random trivia like this all the time.

            1. True about the trivia. But there really is a dearth of impeachment stuff. And also a surprising missed opportunity on the 1A/2A front. Last Tuesday the NYT and NPR reported that SCOTUS gave the go-ahead for Sandy Hook parents to sue Remington over its marketing, but nothing showed up here. What’s wrong? Mainstream media not worth following?

            2. May the better ideas prevail.

  6. I’ve read that Henry Clay first entered the Senate at age 29 (below the constitutionally mandated 30). Not sure if he counts as the youngest senator though.

    1. @ThomasW: According to Wikipedia, Clay was born in 1777. The Senator from Kentucky, John Adair, resigned after losing reelection in Dec 1806, and the legislature picked Clay to fill out the remainder of his term. So Clay was a Senator at age 29 for a few weeks.

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