The Youngest Senators in the United States

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Young senators are bringing a new and different perspective to the United States Senate. Their perspectives on issues such as public lands, criminal justice reform, health care, and campaign finance all bring a breath of fresh air to Washington.

As is always the case when people get involved in politics at an early age, it is important for them not to lose their sense of self in the pursuit of a career in public service.

It takes a very special person to run for public office, and it is always best when someone is driven by an internal desire to change the world rather than by dreams of personal glory.

Let’s take a look at the youngest senators that are currently in office.

Youngest Sitting Senator

Ben Lujan (D-NM)49 years old 

Top House Democrat Ben Ray Luján announces Senate campaign. Source: cnn.com

Ben Lujan, a Democrat from New Mexico, is one of the youngest senators in American history at 49 years old. He was elected to the Senate in 2008, after serving two terms in the House of Representatives. In addition to Lujan, other young senators include Cory Booker (D-NJ), who was elected at age 44, and Marco Rubio (R-FL), who was elected at age 41.

Next steps:

Todd Young (R-IN)49 years old

Indiana Democrats Challenge Todd Young’s Ballot Petitions. Source: wfyi.org

Todd Young is a Republican Senator from Indiana who was elected to serve as Senator in 2014, and was re-elected in 2016. He is currently serving his first term as Chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee. Young is also a member of Senate committees on agriculture, budget, and health care.

“Indiana and the World” with Senator Todd Young

Next steps:

Brian Schatz (D-HI)49 years old

Meet the Democrat who plans to unite the party. Source: politico.com

Brian Schatz was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2012 and took office on January 3, 2013. He became the second youngest member of Congress at age 49, following Hawaii’s Daniel Akaka who was elected at age 45 in 1990.

Sen. Brian Schatz says Trump defenders are ‘afraid of this House of Cards falling all the way down’

Next steps:

Alex Padilla (D-CA)48 years old

California’s First Latino Senator Wants Immigration Overhaul Now. Source: nytimes.com

He was born in San Fernando Valley and attended both San Fernando High School and CSUN. From there he went on to work at the Los Angeles City Council, where he served as Speaker Pro Tempore. He then served as Chief Deputy Secretary of State. Padilla has been serving California in the Senate since 2014.

Next steps:

Chris Murphy (D-CT)48 years old

Sen. Chris Murphy On The Race For The Senate. Source: wbur.org

Chris Murphy, the senator from Connecticut who has been in office since 2013. Murphy is a strong supporter of gun control and has spoken out against the National Rifle Association numerous times. He is also a proponent of renewable energy and was one of the architects of the Green New Deal.

Murphy Asks Questions at Senate Foreign Relations Hearing on AUMF

Next steps:

Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)45 years old

Kyrsten Sinema Just Killed the Democrats’ Last, Best Chance to Protect Voting Rights. Source: motherjones.com

Kyrsten Sinema is a United States Senator from the state of Arizona. She is a member of the Democratic Party, and took office on January 3, 2019. Sinema previously served in the House of Representatives, also from Arizona, from 2013 to 2019.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Representing Arizona and Friendship with Meghan McCain | The View

Next steps:

Tom Cotton (R-AR)44 years old

Tom Cotton is the ultimate product of today’s hard-edged, ideologically driven Republican Party. Source: theatlantic.com

Tom Cotton is a junior United States Senator from Arkansas. He was born on May 13, 1977, in Dardanelle, Arkansas. At the age of 26, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making him the youngest member of Congress at the time. He was reelected in 2008 and 2010. 

In February 2015, he announced his candidacy for the United States Senate, and he won the election later that year.

July 29, 2021: Senator Cotton Joins Fox News To Talk About the Democrats’ Infrastructure Bill

Next steps:

Josh Hawley (R-MO)41 years old

Hawley vows to challenge Biden electors, forcing a vote McConnell hoped to avoid. Source: politico.com

Josh Hawley is a young Republican senator from Missouri. At 41 years old, he’s one of the youngest members of the Senate. He’s also a staunch conservative and has been an outspoken critic of the current administration. 

While some are surprised that Hawley is even considering a presidential run, his choice to forgo reelection in order to focus on the presidency seems to indicate he’s all-in.

Senator Hawley votes against infrastructure bill, Biden’s woke agenda

Next steps:

Jon Ossoff (D-GA)34 years old

Jon Ossoff runs for Senate in Georgia. Source: politico.com

Jon Ossoff is a 34-year-old representative for the state of Georgia. The Democrat Jon Ossoff has won his Senate runoff election in Georgia against the Republican Sen.

He is campaigning to fill the vacant seat in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. The seat was left open when Tom Price, who is now the secretary of Health and Human Services, resigned from his post. 

Also note that the Democrat Jon Ossoff was running in a district that has been held by Republicans for almost 40 years. In spite of this, he is still considered to be a strong contender in the race. And eventually won.

Secretary Pete joins Senators Jon Ossoff & Raphael Warnock in Georgia | Secretary Pete Buttigieg

Next steps:

Youngest U.S. Senators in History

10. Samuel White (December 1770 – November 4, 1809)

Samuel White was a little-known senator who did not accomplish much during his term in the Senate because he died rather young. After Dr. Henry Latimer resigned in 1801, White was appointed as a U.S. Senator at the age of just 30 years old and was subsequently reelected for full terms in 1802 and 1808. He

Thomas White, father of Samuel White and judge in the colonial Maryland legislature, the Delaware House of Assembly, and the Chief Justice of the Kent County Court of Common Pleas, was also a delegate to both state constitutional conventions in 1776 and 1792.

9. Russell Long (November 3, 1918 – May 9, 2003)

Another politician who began his career at a young age and continued for several decades in government posts is Russell Long. Long had received his law degree, but he joined the US Navy Reserve in 1942 while serving in the military during World War II. Long did not return from the war until 1947, and he intended to resume practicing law after returning.  

A year later, Russell Long was elected to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy created by the death of John Overton. Long served as a senator until 1987 and he held the position of Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Majority Whip.

8. Joe Biden (November 20, 1942 – Present)

Joe Biden wants to revoke Section 230. Source: theverge.com

Joe Biden was one of the oldest man to ever serve as President of the United States, in addition to being the youngest member of Congress. Unlike most other senators on this list, Biden did not previously serve in government before being elected to the Senate from Delaware in 1972 at the age of 29. Before he was elected to the Senate from Delaware in 1972, Biden worked as a lawyer.

Biden served in the United States Senate for 36 years, from 1972 until 2009, when he was elected vice president. Biden then worked as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania before resuming his political career in 2019.

Fun fact: Joe Biden has run for president twice before, in 1987 and 2008; he first sought the White House in 1987 and once again in 2008.

7. William H. Wells (January 7, 1769 – March 11, 1829)

William H. Wells began his political career in the Delaware General Assembly, where he represented Sussex County for a number of years. In 1799, Wells was elected to the U.S. Senate as a Republican to fill the vacancy caused by Joshua Clayton’s death. He served until 1804 and was re-elected in 1813. In 1820, after serving one last session in the Delaware House of Representatives, he retired from politics.

Wells was a lawyer before he became a politician. While in politics, Wells continued to practice law and resumed his legal career after leaving office.

Fun fact: Orson Welles, actor, playwright, and director, was a great-great-grandson of William H. Wells.

6. Rush Holt Sr. (June 19, 1905 – February 8, 1955)

Dr. Holt was a highly regarded physician who served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He was one of the youngest U.S. senators in modern history, having been elected when he was only 29 years old in 1934. 

Because Dr. Holt did not meet the constitutional age requirements for a senator, he wasn’t sworn into office until after his 30th birthday, June 1935, which made him the youngest person ever to be elected to the Senate. Holt was the first person to be democratically elected to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate.

As a congressman, Holt was an adamant isolationist who regularly backed anti-war efforts. Because of his opinions, Holt was unpopular among his constituents and was not re-elected to the Senate. Holt served in the West Virginia House of Delegates before being elected to the Senate. Following his term in the Senate, Holt returned to the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Fun fact: After the death of Rush Holt Sr. in 1955, Helen F. Holt completed his unfinished term in the West Virginia House of Delegates. She was then named Secretary of State, becoming the state’s first female to hold a high position.

5. Henry Clay (April 12, 1777 – June 29, 1852)

Despite never becoming president, Henry Clay is remembered for his illustrious political career. As a youngster, Clay worked as a clerk at the Virginia Court of Chancery, where he was noticed by George Wythe, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who was also Jefferson’s mentor and judge on the State High Court of Chancery. Using connections with Wythe, Clay became a lawyer before moving into politics.

Clay began his political career in the Kentucky state legislature in 1803. His power in Kentucky politics was so great that when he was just 29, the Kentucky legislature elected him to the United States Senate.

Clay served three additional terms as a U.S. Senator, the second of which lasted for four years before he was elected speaker of the House and secretary of state in 1836. Clay was also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and served as the seventh House Speaker as well as the ninth Secretary of State during his career in politics. Although Clay received electoral votes for president in 1824, 1832, and 1844, he never received enough support to be nominated by his party.

Fun fact: One of the two corrupt bargains in American political history has been dubbed “Henry Clay.” Because there was no clear victor in the 1824 presidential election, Clay – who was a candidate and speaker of the House at the time – gave his backing to John Quincy Adams, who won and then picked him as Secretary of State.

4. Thomas Worthington (July 16, 1773 – June 20, 1827)

Thomas Worthington began his career in politics in his mid-twenties, serving as a member of the Territorial House of Representatives. Before Ohio became a fully fledged state, Worthington was dispatched to the State Constitutional Convention in 1802, which gave it statehood. The following year, at the age of 29, he was elected one of the initial US senators from Ohio.

In 1810, Worthington ran for the U.S. Senate again and served until 1814, when he was elected Ohio’s sixth governor. From 1818 until his death in 1827, Worthington worked as a canal commissioner after serving as a governor.

3. John Crittenden (September 10, 1787 – July 26, 1863)

Former United States Attorney General. Source: history.com

John Crittenden served in Congress for many years, beginning in 1817 when he was only 29 years old and elected to the United States Senate. Over the following several decades, Crittenden held a number of important posts. He was well-known and frequently mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. 

Crittenden never agreed to seek election for president, however.

Crittenden was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, served as United States Attorney General twice, and was Kentucky’s 17th governor. Crittenden changed political parties many times throughout his life. 

He was a Democratic-Republican at first, then a National Republican, Whig, Know Nothing, and Unionist before becoming a Democrat in 1869.

2. Armistead Mason (August 4, 1787 – February 6, 1819)

Armistead Thomson Mason was the Former U.S. senator. Source: loc.gov

Another historical U.S. Senator who was younger than the age requirement was Armistead Mason, who was 28 years old when he entered Congress in 1815. Mason was a day younger than John Eaton, the youngest U.S. Senator ever elected; both were 28 when they were chosen to serve in the Senate.

Mason started his career as an agriculturist but joined the Virginia Volunteers during the War of 1812 and rose to the rank of brigadier general in charge of the militia forces in Virginia.

Following the death of William Branch Giles, John Mason McCarty was chosen to finish his term. Despite his desire to continue in politics, Mason lost reelection bid in 1817. Mason’s campaign was a long and difficult battle that eventually resulted in many duels. Unfortunately, Mason was a duelist by nature, and he died fighting his second cousin John Mason McCarty during the election campaign of 1820.

1. John Eaton (June 18, 1790 – November 17, 1856)

Eaton was 28 years, 4 months, 29 days old when he was first elected to the Senate, making him the youngest ever. Eaton grew up in a family that was active in politics and the military and wanted to follow in their footsteps from an early age. Eaton eventually made his career as a lawyer and rose through the ranks of captain to major in the Tennessee militia. Eaton got close with Andrew Jackson during both conflicts, assisting him as a volunteer.

Eaton served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1815 until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1818 and resigned in 1829 to accept the position of Secretary of War under Andrew Jackson’s administration. Eaton also held several other posts, including Governor of Florida Territory and U.S. Minister to Spain.

Fun fact: Although the Constitution mandates that all senators be at least 30 years old, John Eaton’s young age was overlooked, which was typical in the early days after the United States’ inception.

Q&A

Who is the youngest Senator?

Browsing West Virginia History OnView | WVU Libraries

Rush Holt, Sr. was the youngest popularly elected Senator at 29 years and 4 months in November 1934. 

Who is the youngest Democrat elected?

Jon Ossoff is the youngest Democrat elected; Credit: Bloomberg

Jon Ossoff becomes the youngest Democrat elected to the Senate since Joe Biden in 1973 By 

Can you be a senator at 18?

To be a Senator, a person must be aged 30 or over. To be a Representative, a person must be aged 25 or older.

Can you run for Congress at 18?

“No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.”

What the constitutional minimum age?

The Constitution requires that Members of the House be at least 25 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and live in the state they represent (though not necessarily the same district). – U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 2, clause 2

Who is the first first Hispanic youngest member of the U.S. House?

Otero. But at that time New Mexico was not yet a state and Otero was a non-voting U.S. Delegate.

Who is the oldest youngest Senator?

Russell Long served the longest uninterrupted tenure as the youngest U.S. Senator at 8 years and 3 days. | Wikipedia

Russell Long served the longest period uninterrupted at 8 years and 3 days. Sen. Mark Pryor set the record as the oldest youngest Senator in the body’s history at 46 years until the swearing-in of Michael Bennet (Democrat, Colorado) in January 2009. 

Who is the youngest incumbent senator?

The youngest incumbent senator had been Sen. Josh Hawley, a 41-year-old Missouri Republican. 

This is also the answer to the youngest sitting US senator. 

Who is the youngest person ever elected to the Senate?

The youngest person ever elected to the Senate was John Henry Eaton, who was 28 when he was elected to represent Tennessee in November 1818 . 

Eaton was elected and served in the US Senate while under the Constitutional age requirement of 30.

Who was the youngest known member of Congress to die?

Thomas Noell. He died in office at 28 while holding the youngest title.

Who is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress and the first Hispanic female to hold the title of youngest member. 

Who is the first Black youngest member of the U.S. House?

Josiah Walls was the first Black youngest member of the U.S. House. 


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Editor
Sabrina is a former campaign manager who has decided to focus her effort to help people contact senators and get help. She leads our Editorial Team with Ronald and Lawrence to curate content and resources that help us navigate the system.

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