Billy Graham at 99: A Look Back at the Evangelist and the Presidents (From Truman to Trump)

Evangelist Billy Graham turns 99 years old today.

One fascinating part of Graham’s life is his interactions with the presidents of the United States. He has personally met with 13 of the nation’s 45 presidents—nearly 1 out of 3—dating back to 1950. In other words, he has personally interacted with (and usually prayed with) all of the presidents following World War II—from Truman to Trump.

For information on each relationship, see the book by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House. (And by the way, if you want to read the definitive biography of Graham, wait until March of 2018 and get the updated edition of William Martin’s magisterial biography, A Prophet with Honor.)

I won’t make comments on Graham and each president, except for the first and the last, since they are both somewhat unusual.

On July 14, 1950, when the evangelist was just 31 years old, he had his first meeting in the White House with a president: Harry Truman. Graham was joined by his three associates, Jerry Beavan, Cliff Barrows, and Grady Wilson.

Afterward, as the four men stepped out on the White House lawn, they were met with reporters, who suggested they pause, pose, and pray before the cameras. The men took a knee and prayed for Truman to have the Lord’s guidance in his handling of the Korean crisis. Truman took the action as grandstanding and was not impressed.

No picture exists of Graham meeting with Truman in the White House. Seventeen years later, however, Truman welcomed Graham to his home in Independence, Missouri.

In November 2013, Graham met Donald Trump, who was a guest at the evangelist’s 95th birthday party. Seventeen months later, Trump announced his candidacy for president of the United States. So though Graham has not met with President Trump in office, he has still met every president dating back to 1950.

The following is a photograph of Graham with each president.

#33. Harry Truman (1884–1972) | Democrat | 1945–1953

Billy Graham on white house lawn 1950

Graham later met Truman in 1967:

Billy Graham and Harry Truman

#34. Dwight Eisenhower (1890–1969) | Republican | 1953–1961

Dwight Eisenhower

#35. John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) | Democrat | 1961–1963

Billy Graham and John F Kennedy

#36. Lyndon Johnson (1908–1973) | Democrat | 1963–1969

Billy Graham and Lyndon Johnson

#37. Richard Nixon (1913–1994) | Republican | 1969–1974

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#38. Gerald Ford (1913–2006) | Republican | 1974–1977

Billy Graham and Gerald Ford

#39. Jimmy Carter (1924– ) | Democrat | 1977–1981

Billly Graham and Jimmy Carter

#40. Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) | Republican | 1981–1989

Billy Graham and Ronald Reagan

#41. George H. W. Bush (1924– ) | Republican | 1989–1993

Billy Graham and George HW Bush

#42. Bill Clinton (1946– ) | Democrat | 1993–2001

Billy Graham and Bill Clinton

#43. George W. Bush (1946– ) | Republican | 2001–2009

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#44. Barack Obama (1961– ) | Democrat | 2009–2017

Billy Graham and Barack Obama

#45. Donald Trump (1946– ) | Republican | 2017–

Graham and Trump