Top 5 Political Whippersnappers

PHOTO: Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., is interviewed by Roll Call in his Longworth office, Feb. 2, 2012.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Politics is usually the vocation of those who can tout lengthy experience in civic responsibility. But then there's some who've found their way into politics before they were even old enough to vote.

Legislative wunderkinds currently include 30-year-old Aaron Schock, R-Ill., the youngest member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and 39-year-old Mike Lee, R-Utah, the youngest U.S. senator.

This year's youngest mayor is 23-year-old Alex Morse, who runs Holyoke, Mass., which has a population of about 40,000.

While President Obama, now 50, might have seemed young when he was inaugurated at the tender age of 47, he was actually five years older than the youngest U.S. president ever to get elected.

ABC News has compiled a list of the Top Five youngest political whippersnappers in U.S. history -- who range from a U.S. president to a small-town honorary mayor. Read about them here:

PHOTO: Teddy Roosevelt
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Youngest U.S. President: Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt: Inaugurated at Age 42

Born Oct. 27, 1858, Teddy Roosevelt took the bully pulpit on Sept. 14, 1901, at the ripe young age of 42, making him ABC's No. 1 presidential whippersnapper. John F. Kennedy, inaugurated at the age of 43, just missed the mark.

Roosevelt was vice president when President William McKinley was assassinated, and so became president without having been elected president, technically making Kennedy the youngest president ever to get elected.

Three years after the end of his first term as president, Roosevelt ran again from the Progressive Party -- not from the Republican Party to which he'd previously belonged.

While Roosevelt struggled with poor health early in his life, he is known for having said during his campaign for another presidential term that he felt fit as a "bull moose," the nickname of the Progressive Party.

As if to prove it, Roosevelt undertook several daredevil adventures in his life, working on his ranch in the Badlands of North Dakota, going on multiple safaris in South Africa and leading the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry in the Cuban War of Independence, the Rough Riders.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that candidates for president be at least 35 years old, a natural-born citizen and a permanent resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years.

PHOTO: Willaim Charles Claiborne
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Youngest U.S. Senator: Armistead Thomson Mason – From Virginia: Sworn in at Age 28

Legally, the minimum age for a U.S. senator is 30 years old. But there was once a day when birth certificate records were not kept quite as assiduously as they are today, and some senators fudged the age requirement a little.

One such case was that of senatorial whippersnapper Armistead Thomson Mason, sworn into office as a U.S. senator for Virginia in 1816, when he was about 28.

Mason was elected to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Sen. William B. Giles.

More recently, another senatorial whippersnapper filled the vacancy of a previous senator. In 2010, 36-year-old Carte Goodwin, D-W. Va., succeeded Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who died at the age of 92. At the time, the New York Times reported that stand-in senators (with no plans to run for re-election) Roland Burris, D-Ill.; George LeMieux, R-Fla.; and Goodwin considered forming a short-timers caucus.

PHOTO: Armistead Thomson Mason
United States Congress
Youngest U.S. Congressman: William C. Claiborne From Tennessee: Sworn in Between Age 22-26

William C. Claiborne succeeded Andrew Jackson in the U.S. House of Representatives for Tennessee in 1797 and became the youngest congressman in U.S. history.

Like Mason, Claiborne somewhat smoothed over the age issue. The U.S. Constitution requires that members of the House of Representatives be at least 25 years old, but different accounts show that Claiborne's age could have been anywhere from 22 to 26 by the time he entered office.

The date of birth indicated on his gravestone shows that he would have been 23 at the time he entered office.

PHOTO: Newly-elected Hillsdale Mayor Michael Sessions,18, waves goodbye to a television news crew as they leave his home in Hillsdale, Mich., Nov. 9, 2005.
Brandy Baker/the News/AP Photo
Youngest Mayor: Michael Sessions: Inaugurated at Age 18, Hillsdale, Mich.; Population: 8,233

With $700 in his war chest from a summer job, Michael Sessions launched a successful write-in campaign to become mayor of his Michigan town in 2005.

When he registered to appear on the ballot in the fall election, Sessions had not yet turned 18 and was still too young to vote. Nevertheless, in a town with a population of about 8,000, he barely hedged out the incumbent, 51-year-old Douglas Ingles.

Preliminary results reported by the Hillsdale Daily News showed Sessions won 732 votes to Ingles' 668. But Ingles requested a recount, which revealed a much closer margin of two votes – 670 to 668.

In an interview with MSNBC at the time, Keith Olbermann asked Sessions if he believed the two crucial votes could have been the ones cast by his mother and father.

"Most definitely. It had to have been," Sessions said.

PHOTO: The Lone Star Kid, movie poster is seen here.
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Youngest Honorary Mayor: Brian Zimmerman – Appointed at Age 11; Crabb, Texas; Population: 225

Brian Zimmerman became the honorary mayor of Crabb, a community of about 200, in 1983 at age 11.

He won the position when he received 23 out of 30 votes in an unofficial election held at his aunt's grocery store.

Zimmerman, called "the Boy Mayor," garnered international attention for his role in the community, and in 1985 PBS created the movie "Lone Star Kid," which was about Zimmerman and his mayorship.

The boy could become mayor at age 11 because at the time, his small community was unincorporated, meaning it was not governed by a local municipality. This was also why he received the title "honorary mayor" and why he wasn't paid.

Officially putting Crabb on the map through incorporation was one of Zimmerman's goals when he assumed office, but that would have forced him out of office because people under 18 could not serve as mayors in the state of Texas.

At the time, Honorary Mayor Zimmerman argued that incorporating the community would have protected it from annexation by neighboring counties. But it also would have forced the community to face local, in addition to state and federal, taxes.

Zimmerman never succeeded in incorporating the town but said he paved the road while serving. He still remains the youngest person ever to get elected mayor, albeit an honorary mayor.

He died at the age of 24 from a heart attack.

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