Youngest State Boasts a Nation's President on Its 50th Birthday

Youngest member of the union among few president-bearing states.

August 20, 2009, 3:21 PM

Aug. 21, 2009— -- Had President Barack Obama been born two years earlier, his eligibility for the presidency may have been an actual problem for him.

Instead, as the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's statehood takes place today, a Hawaiian sits in the White House.

Hawaiians voted to enter the union with an overwhelming 95 percent in 1959.

Obama spent the majority of his childhood growing up on the island paradise, where his parents had met as students at the University of Hawaii. The state proudly boasts the president as "kamaaina," or Hawaiian native, on its official Web site.

The commander in chief, 48, was born in the youngest member of the union, making it one of only 21 states that can make a similar claim through 44 presidencies. Although Hawaii can now market itself as a presidential birthplace, eastern states have long been graced with such honors.

President-Bearing States

The state producing the most presidents also happens to be the birthplace of the first president. Virginia holds top honors with eight presidents coming from the commonwealth, with Ohio following close behind with seven former leaders of the free world. Massachusetts and New York tie for third, with four presidents.

Only seven presidents have been born west of the Mississippi River.

The simple explanation for many of the 29 states that can't brag may be that because they came to the union later, they missed out on more than 100 years of chances. But Hawaii proves to be an exception.

There is another possible explanation: Education.

Educational Advantage

With the majority of president-bearing states located in the Northeast, presidents-to-be have been exposed to more of the resources they need to succeed. Of the eight Ivy League schools, none is located any further south than Philadelphia.

The 44th president also had the privilege of private education before his college education. As a teenager, he attended the Punahou School, a private Hawaiian institution boasting alumni such as actress Kelly Preston, golfer Michelle Wie and AOL founder Steve Case.

The Punahou School, originally called Oahu College, also boasts another famous leader: The Chinese revolutionary Sun Yet Sen, who founded the Republic of China.

Elite, private schools, though not non-existent in the West, are less plentiful. Although Obama graduated from Columbia, he first attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, and is one of only three presidents to have attended a West Coast school at all.

The only two presidents who received a full college education in the West were Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon.

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