Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
Posts tagged "Vice Presidents"
Asker emt4com Asks:
Thanks for the rankings! I'm sure you know the time & effort you put into all this are appreciated by a great number of people. My request is always for more info as I wonder about some detail, go to look that up, that takes me to another area, and a few hours later, I get back to the original article I was reading. I guess that's great. Hey! Sometime when you have nothing to do, ha ha, a ranking of the VPs.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Thank you. The problem with the Vice Presidents is that the position was nothing more than a backup heartbeat with so little Constitutional responsibility that few of them actually lived in Washington, those who did rarely presided over the Senate and didn’t have a place in the Executive Branch until the middle of the 20th Century. Even then, no Vice President had an office in the White House until Mondale in 1977 — nearly 200 years after John Adams was sworn in as the first Vice President. The Vice Presidency of the United States has existed for 225 years, and it was of such little importance for a major part of that history that it has been vacant for 37 years, 290 days of that 225 years — nearly 16% of the time!

In other words, there’s no way to rank the Vice Presidents because the job wasn’t really even a job for most of our history, for a big part of that time, nobody actually held the job, and, in my opinion, only 9 out of 47 Vice Presidents have either had some influence within the Administration they served in or had responsibilities as VP that might be considered notable —Hobart, Nixon, LBJ, Mondale, Bush 41, Quayle, Gore, Cheney, and Biden. And even then, Nixon, LBJ, Bush 41, and Quayle had limited roles, and all of those Vice Presidents, with the exception of Garret Hobart (who served as President McKinley’s VP from 1897 until dying in office in 1899) were born in the 20th Century or served after 1953.

I’m all for helping to advance some knowledge, but there’s nothing to be gained by ranking the VPs. However, I do get asked about the VPs a lot, so maybe I will just do short profiles on each of the Vice Presidents featuring information like each of the entries of the Presidential Rankings contained — biographical data, a short synopsis of who they were, what they did before being elected Vice President, and what they did afterward, if anything.

I don’t know if that sounds interesting to anyone else. Would anybody be interested in Vice Presidential Profiles?

Asker kray814 Asks:
I know this not going to happen but let's say hypothetically when Hilary runs in 2016, will she able to select Bill Clinton to be her VP? I know the 12th amendment says he can't be VP but the 22nd amendment kind of contradicts that.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I don’t believe that the 22nd Amendment contradicts the 12th Amendment at all. The 22nd Amendment instituted term limits while the 12th Amendment defined the eligibility requirements for the Presidency and the Vice Presidency, noting that “no person Constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States.”

There are some who argue that the 22nd Amendment only means that someone who has served two-terms as President can’t be elected President, but that it doesn’t prohibit a former two-term President from assuming the Presidency another way, such as succession via the Vice Presidency. Perhaps the literal meaning of the 22nd Amendment can be interpreted as only restricting a former two-term President from being elected President again, but that doesn’t abrogate the 12th Amendment.

For someone who has served two-terms as President to even become Vice President and possibly succeed to the Presidency (as those who believe it is possible suggest), that former President would have to either be elected to the Vice Presidency or appointed to the Vice Presidency in the case of a vacancy in the office. Well, the 12th Amendment pretty clearly states (in my opinion) that anyone Constitutionally ineligible to be President (such as someone who has already served two terms) is ineligible to be Vice President. So, that person is prohibited from being elected Vice President, too.

So, what about a term-limited President being appointed to fill a vacancy in the Vice Presidency? First of all, that nominee would have to be confirmed by a majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, so that’s an obstacle for someone whose eligibility is supposedly up-in-the-air Constitutionally. Secondly, the last sentence of the 12th Amendment — the one dealing with this aspect of Presidential eligibility only says, "But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States."

Those who argue that the 22nd Amendment leaves an opening for a term-limited President to possibly become President through succession are relying on a strictly literal interpretation of the 22nd Amendment. If that is how they interpret the Constitution, the 12th Amendment would also have to be interpreted just as strictly, and it would not only restrict a term-limited President from being elected as Vice President, but it would prohibit that former President from becoming Vice President through any means that anybody could come up with. Take a look at that sentence from the 12th Amendment in boldface print above. If we use that strict interpretation of it and define it literally, word-for-word, it says nothing about “election” or “appointment” or “service”. It flat-out says, in language that has much more clarity than just about anything else in the Constitution, that nobody can be Vice President if they are ineligible to be President.

Listen, I’d love more than anything to see Bill Clinton back in the White House, and not just as First Gentleman, but I don’t see any possible way that the 12th Amendment or 22nd Amendment should or could be interpreted to allow a term-limited President to become Vice President in any manner whatsoever. Nothing in the 22nd Amendment abrogates the 12th, contradicts anything in the 12th, or gives any aspect of the 12th a new or different meaning.

Incidentally, if Hillary could appoint Bill as her Vice President, there would be a habitation clause issue that could either challenge their eligibility or cause easily avoidable problems in the Electoral College. Every Electoral vote counts and no candidate wants to risk giving up any more Electoral votes than they need to. If Hillary was allowed to name Bill as her running mate — and, again, she totally can’t, no matter what some people argue — electors from New York wouldn’t be able to cast Electoral ballots for both Hillary and Bill. The 12th Amendment prohibits Presidential electors to cast both of their votes (one for President and one for Vice President) for candidates who have the same state residency. While the electors of the other 49 states could cast both ballots for Hillary and Bill, the New York electors would have their votes disqualified for violating the 12th Amendment if they did so. No party, ticket, campaign, or candidate is going to risk losing a single Electoral vote, especially when it’s 100% unavoidable such as in this case, and New York has 29 Electoral votes in play during a Presidential election.

And, even if they overcame all of these Constitutional obstacles — which they couldn’t because I’m not the smartest guy in the world, I’ve never studied law, and I’m not exactly a Constitutional scholar, but even I am not confused by the wording or clarity of these guidelines — they have one more roadblock. In 1961, John F. Kennedy appointed his brother, Bobby Kennedy, to serve as his Attorney General and as a member of his Cabinet, which led to claims of nepotism. In 1967, a law was passed that states:

A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official. An individual may not be appointed, employed, promoted, or advanced in or to a civilian position in an agency if such appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement has been advocated by a public official, serving in or exercising jurisdiction or control over the agency, who is a relative of the individual.

And defined a “relative” as:

“relative” means, with respect to a public official, an individual who is related to the public official as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister.

Now, this law is a bit more vague than the 12th Amendment and 22nd Amendment because it’s not clear whether “a public official” includes a major party nominee for the President who has not yet been elected or whether selecting a running mate would be considered appointing, employing, promoting, advancing, or advocating for appointment, employment, promoting, or advancement, but it sounds like it would be a struggle. And, guess what? Even if they still overcame all of the Constitutional questions and Electoral College issues and potential problems with the nepotism law, there would still be a Joint Session of Congress in which the Electoral College results would need to be certified and that would present yet another opportunity for their eligibility to be challenged, which I imagine it most certainly would be since, as I’ve mentioned a few times in this post, Bill Clinton would definitely be Constitutionally ineligible to be elected Vice President, be appointed Vice President, serve as President, or even sneak into the Vice President’s office sit down at the VP’s desk and pretend to be Vice President.

So, no, it couldn’t happen, and even if it could there would be so many potential roadblocks — not even Constitutionally, but just politically — that they would be dumb to even attempt it.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Why doesn't the Vice President have to resign their office in order to run for President?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Because there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits an incumbent Vice President from running for another office.  Even if a Vice President ran for President and won, he or she wouldn’t have to resign to assume office because the terms of the President and Vice President run concurrently and he or she would be able to just step from one office into the other as the old term ends and the new term begins.

Another reason is that we need a Vice President and the actual day-to-day Constitutionally-required responsibilities of a VP aren’t so pressing that campaigning for office would be impossible.  The VP is the President of the Senate but almost never actually presides over the Senate and is needed to cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate, something that also rarely happens.  The resignation of the Vice President would force the President to appoint a new VP and once a nominee is fully vetted and decided upon, it requires confirmation by both chambers of Congress (usually following hearings) before the new VP could be sworn in.  That would take up so much time and energy that it doesn’t really make sense for a Vice President to resign their office in order to run for President, especially when a campaign doesn’t seriously impede their Constitutional responsibilities.   

Asker Anonymous Asks:
George W Bush considers himself a Texan even though he wasn't born there. Do presidents have to declare exactly what state that they are from when they are running? are there other presidents besides W who claimed a different state than where they were born?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Good question!

First of all, let me set the table a bit.  The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, which sets forth the process for the election of the President and Vice President (and attempts to explain the Electoral College), instructs Presidential Electors to cast a separate ballot for the President and Vice President and prohibits Electors from casting both votes for candidates who reside in the same state as the Elector.  To break that down, basically, that means that if I was an Elector, I couldn’t cast my ballot for a President and Vice President who, like me, live in California.  At least one of my votes would have to go to someone residing in a different state.

Some take that to mean that the President and Vice President can’t be elected if their official residency is the same state.  In actuality, they can reside in the same state, but Electoral votes are the ticket to the White House, so nobody wants to even risk the possibility of having even just one or two Electoral votes disqualified, which is what would happen if an Elector did cast ballots for a President and Vice President who both resided in the Electors state.  In 2000, Dick Cheney established Wyoming as his official residency once he was named as George W. Bush’s running mate. Although Bush and Cheney both lived in Texas at the time, Cheney had a home in Wyoming, had represented Wyoming in Congress, and establishing official residences in different states protected them from any possible complications in the Electoral College.

Anyway, back to the main point of your question, yes, Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates declare their official state of residency when they seek election.  I’m not positive when or how they do it — it could be when they file their paperwork to run, it could be as simple as it being where they are registered to vote.  I’m not sure about the particulars.  But there have been plenty of Presidents whose official state of residency was different from their state of birth.

And, since I’m here to give you as much information, as possible, whether you specifically ask for it or not, here are those Presidents:

Andrew Jackson: Born in South Carolina; Represented Tennessee throughout his political career and is buried there.
William Henry Harrison: Born in Virginia; Appointed to territorial government positions in the Northwest Territory and Indiana Territory early in his political career; Represented Ohio during the last half of his political career and at the time of his election as President; Buried in Ohio
James K. Polk: Born in North Carolina; Represented Tennessee throughout his political career; Buried in Tennessee
Zachary Taylor: Born in Virginia; Stationed throughout the country during his long military career; Officially resided in Louisiana at the time of his election as President; Buried in Kentucky
Abraham Lincoln: Born in Kentucky; Represented Illinois throughout his political career; Buried in Illinois
Jefferson Davis (Confederate President): Born in Kentucky; Represented Mississippi throughout his political career; Buried in Virginia 
Andrew Johnson: Born in North Carolina; Represented Tennessee throughout his political career; Buried in Tennessee
Ulysses S. Grant: Born in Ohio; Officially resided in Illinois at the time of his Presidential election; Buried in New York
Chester A. Arthur: Born in Vermont; Spent nearly his entire adult life working and living in New York which was his official state of residency when he was elected Vice President and succeeded to the Presidency upon Garfield’s assassination; Buried in New York
Grover Cleveland: Born in New Jersey; Represented New York throughout his political career; Buried in New Jersey
Benjamin Harrison: Born in Ohio; Represented Indiana throughout his political career; Buried in Indiana
Woodrow Wilson: Born in Virginia and raised in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina; Represented New Jersey when elected to the only two political positions he ever campaigned for; Buried in Washington, D.C.
Calvin Coolidge: Born in Vermont; Represented Massachusetts throughout his political career; Buried in Vermont
Herbert Hoover: Born in Iowa and grew up there and in Oregon; Spent nearly a quarter-century working as a mining engineer and then relief organizer around the world; Officially resided in California at the time of his election as President; Buried in Iowa
Dwight D. Eisenhower: Born in Texas and raised in Kansas; Stationed all over the country and, later, around the world during his military career; Resident of New York at the time of his first election as President in 1952, but established Kansas as his official residence at the time of the 1956 Presidential election; Buried in Kansas
Richard Nixon: Born and raised in California; Represented California for the first half of his political career but moved to New York to join a law firm after losing the 1962 California gubernatorial campaign; New York was his official place of residence when elected President in 1968; Re-established California — the location of his “Western White House” — as his place of residency by the time of his re-election as President in 1972; Buried in California
Gerald Ford: Born in Nebraska and raised in Michigan; Represented Michigan throughout his political career; Buried in Michigan
Ronald Reagan: Born in Illinois; Represented California throughout his political career; Buried in California
George H.W. Bush: Born in Massachusetts; Represented Texas throughout his political career; Has arranged to be buried in Texas upon his death
George W. Bush: Born in Connecticut; Represented Texas throughout his political career; Planning to be buried in Texas upon his death
Barack Obama: Born in Hawaii; Represented Illinois throughout his political career

Levi P. Morton (who was Benjamin Harrison’s Vice President) did indeed live a long life — he was exactly 96 years old when he passed away because he actually died on his birthday. Morton lived longer than any VP in history except for John Nance Garner — ol’ “Cacus Jack” — who famously said that the Vice Presidency was “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” Despite that opinion of the job, Garner actually sought it out and gave up his vastly more powerful position as Speaker of the House to become Franklin D. Roosevelt’s running mate in 1932. Garner badly wanted to be President — so badly, in fact, that he actually spent eight years in that “bucket of warm piss”. Although he almost certainly wouldn’t have been a serious contender for many reasons (especially because he was from the South at a time when Southerners still could not gain enough national appeal to even risk nominating for President), Garner felt betrayed by Roosevelt when FDR ran for an unprecedented third term in 1940. Garner retired to Texas and lived until the late-60s, dying two weeks before his 99th birthday in 1967. On the day that JFK was assassinated, one of his final phone calls was to John Nance Garner wishing him happy birthday.

As for your question, the longest amount of time between the death of a President and his Vice President was 28 years, 254 days for the Hoover/Curtis ticket. Here are the top five (which does include Washington/Adams):

1. Herbert Hoover & Charles Curtis: 28 years, 254 days
Vice President Curtis died February 8, 1936; President Hoover died October 20, 1964
2. Gerald Ford & Nelson Rockefeller: 27 years, 334 days
Vice President Rockefeller died January 26, 1979; President Ford died December 26, 2006
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt & Harry Truman: 27 years, 258 days
President Roosevelt died April 12, 1945; Vice President Truman died December 26, 1972
4. George Washington & John Adams: 26 years, 202 days
President Washington died December 14, 1799; Vice President Adams died July 4, 1826
5. Abraham Lincoln & Hannibal Hamlin: 26 years, 50 days
President Lincoln died April 15, 1865; Vice President Hamlin died July 4, 1891

And, of course, the shortest amount of time between the deaths of a President and his Vice President is about 6 hours as former President John Adams died just a few hours after his former Vice President Thomas Jefferson on July 4, 1826.

With his 90th birthday, George Herbert Walker Bush has become the fifth President in American History to reach the age of 90 years old (Jimmy Carter will turn 90 later this year). Bush has been the oldest living President since the death of Gerald Ford in December 2006, is currently in fifth place on the list of longest-living American Presidents of all-time, and he will rise to third place on that list by his next birthday.

Longest-Living Presidents
1. Ford: 93 years, 165 days
2. Reagan: 93 years, 120 days
3. J. Adams: 90 years, 247 days
4. Hoover: 90 years, 71 days
5. G.H.W. Bush: 90 years, 0 days (Turned 90 years old today)
6. Carter: 89 years+ (Turns 90 years old on October 1st)
7. Truman: 88 years, 232 days
8. Madison: 85 years, 104 days
9. Jefferson: 83 years, 82 days
10. Davis (CSA): 81 years, 186 days

Bush is also currently the fifth longest-living Vice President in American history:

Longest-Living Vice Presidents
1. Garner: 98 years, 351 days
2. Morton: 96 years
3. Ford: 93 years, 165 days
4. J. Adams: 90 years, 247 days
5. G.H.W. Bush: 90 years, 0 days
6. Truman: 88 years, 232 days
7. Mondale: 86 years+ (Turns 87 on January 5, 2015)
8. Dawes: 85 years, 239 days
9. Jefferson: 83 years, 82 days
10. Hamlin: 81 years, 311 days

Former President Bush’s long life has also included a lengthy and well-deserved retirement. Bush is in the top ten of the rankings of the longest lives lived by Presidents after leaving office, as well as the longest post-Vice Presidencies.

Length of Post-Presidency
1. Carter: 33 years+ (Still living/Left office Jan. 20, 1981)
2. Hoover: 31 years, 231 days (1933-1964)
3. Ford: 29 years, 340 days (1977-2006)
4. J. Adams: 25 years, 122 days (1801-1826)
5. Davis (CSA): 24 years, 210 days (1865-1889)
6. Van Buren: 21 years, 142 days (1841-1862)
7. G.H.W. Bush: 21 years+ (Still living/Left office Jan. 20, 1993)
8. Fillmore: 21 years, 4 days (1853-1874)
9. Truman: 19 years, 340 days (1953-1972)
10. Nixon: 19 years, 256 days (1974-1994)

Length of Post-Vice Presidency
1. Mondale: 33 years+ (Still living/Left VP office Jan. 20, 1981)
2. Nixon: 33 years, 92 days (1961-1994)
3. Ford: 32 years, 139 days (1974-2006)
4. Burr: 31 years, 71 days (1805-1836)
5. J. Adams: 29 years, 122 days (1797-1826)
6. Truman: 27 years, 258 days (1945-1972)
7. Morton: 27 years, 73 days (1893-1920)
8. Garner: 26 years, 291 days (1941-1967)
9. Hamlin: 26 years, 122 days (1865-1891)
10. G.H.W. Bush: 25 years+ (Left VP office Jan. 20, 1989)

There are several other age-related longevity records that Bush 41 has either set, broken, or is approaching. No President/Vice President team has lived longer than the Ronald Reagan/George H.W. Bush (93 and 90 years old respectively) team. The combination of Jimmy Carter (turning 90 in October) and Walter Mondale (a few months away from his 87th birthday) is the closest to Reagan/Bush, and both Carter and Mondale are still living. Interestingly, those two combinations were also the opposing tickets in the 1980 election. Although Bob Dole, who is nearly a year older than Bush (born on July 22, 1923), is the oldest living Presidential or Vice Presidential nominee from either party, Bush is the oldest living successful Presidential and Vice Presidential nominee. Dole was the Republican Presidential nominee in 1996 (losing to Bill Clinton) and the unsuccessful Vice Presidential nominee in 1976 as Gerald Ford’s running mate; Bush was elected VP alongside Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, and was successful against Michael Dukakis in the 1988 Presidential election.

Even the marriage of George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush is a record-breaker. Only two First Couples in American History have been married for longer than 60 years, and they are BOTH still going strong — George and Barbara Bush will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on January 6, 2015 and the 68th anniversary of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s wedding is next month.

Longest Presidential Marriages
1. G.H.W. Bush: 69 years+ (70th anniversary on Jan. 6, 2015)
2. Carter: 67 years+ (68th anniversary on July 7th)
3. Ford: 58 years, 72 days
4. J. Adams: 54 years, 3 days
5. Truman: 53 years, 281 days
6. Nixon: 53 years, 1 day
7. Eisenhower: 52 years, 270 days
8. Reagan (2nd marriage): 52 years, 93 days
9. J.Q. Adams: 50 years, 212 days
10. A. Johnson: 48 years, 75 days

With the Bushes and Carters still happily married and living seemingly healthy lives, both former First Couples have a chance of becoming the longest-living President/First Lady combination as well as adding to their record of longest marriage.

Longest-Living First Couples (Age at Death or Current Age)
1. Gerald Ford (93 years, 165 days)/Betty Ford (93 years, 91 days)
2. Ronald Reagan (93 years, 120 days)/Nancy Reagan (Still living/Turns 93 years old on July 6th)
3. Harry S. Truman (88 years, 232 days)/Bess Truman (97 years, 247 day — longest-living President or First Lady in history)
4. George H.W. Bush (90 years, 0 days)/Barbara Bush (89 years, 4 days) [Both still living]
5. Jimmy Carter (Turns 90 years old on October 1st)/Rosalynn Carter (Turns 87 years old on August 18th) [Both still living]

McKinley has no more backbone than a chocolate eclair.

Theodore Roosevelt on new President William McKinley, 1897.

In 1900, Roosevelt was elected as McKinley’s running mate, replacing Vice President Garret A. Hobart who had died in office in 1899

Both of James Madison’s Vice Presidents died in office. During his eight years in the White House, President Madison had a Vice President for barely half of that time.

Madison’s first Vice President, George Clinton, also served as the Vice President during Thomas Jefferson’s second term from 1805-1809. When Madison was elected in 1808, the new President and Clinton found themselves at odds on numerous issues. After seven years in office (four as Jefferson’s VP; three as Madison’s), Clinton died on April 20, 1812 of a heart attack.

There was no protocol in place to fill a Vice Presidential vacancy until 1967, but because Clinton died during an election year, the Vice Presidency was not vacant for long in 1812. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts became the 5th Vice President of the United States when he took office on March 4, 1813. His term was short-lived, however, and Gerry died in Washington on November 23, 1814.

Besides Clinton and Gerry, five other Vice Presidents have died in office: William Rufus DeVane King (Franklin Pierce’s VP) in 1853, Henry Wilson (Ulysses S. Grant’s second term VP) in 1875, Thomas Andrews Hendricks (Grover Cleveland’s first term VP) in 1885, Garret Augustus Hobart (William McKinley’s first term VP) in 1899, and James Schoolcraft Sherman (William Howard Taft’s VP) in 1912.

In addition, two Vice Presidents resigned from office. John Caldwell Calhoun served as Vice President under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, but resigned in 1832 due to a feud with President Jackson and the urge to run for a vacancy in the United States Senate in his native South Carolina. Richard Nixon’s first Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned in disgrace in 1973 while he was being investigated for criminal wrongdoing in a bribery scandal.

Shortly after midnight on August 3, 1923, John Coolidge was awakened by three men who knocked at the door of his home in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. Mr. Coolidge lived in a simple home and did not have a telephone, so the three men drove to the house from Bridgewater, a town about 15 miles away. They had urgent news to deliver and passed it to Mr. Coolidge who immediately walked upstairs and called for his son, Calvin Coolidge, the Vice President of the United States, who had been sleeping and was visiting his father while on vacation.

The Coolidge family never wasted words. John Coolidge simply notified his son that President Warren G. Harding had died in San Francisco a few hours earlier. Calvin Coolidge calmly got dressed and walked across the street to a general store where he contacted Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes by telephone, drank a Moxie beverage, and left a nickel to pay for it. Coolidge then walked back across the street to his father’s home.

On the advice of Secretary Hughes, Calvin Coolidge prepared to be inaugurated as President as quickly as possible. John Coolidge was a justice of the peace and notary public, and in that capacity the father administered the Presidential Oath of Office to his son at 2:47 AM on August 3, 1923. The Oath was administered in the sitting room of his father’s simple Vermont home. Just minutes after he officially became President, Calvin Coolidge went right back to bed and enjoyed a full night of sleep. The next morning, President Coolidge prepared to return to Washington. Despite the gravity of the situation, he only had a parting sentence for his father. As he left John Coolidge’s home, President Coolidge stumbled on a loose step in the front yard, turned to his father and simply said, “Better get that fixed” and headed to the White House.

A few years, President Coolidge sat for a portrait being painted of him in the White House. At one point, the painter brought up the calm demeanor that Coolidge was said to possess when learning of President Harding’s death and realizing that he was now President. The artist was fascinated by the simplicity of the ceremony and asked the President, “What were you thinking?”. Coolidge replied, “I thought I could swing it.”

Asker kaiyves Asks:
Re: The telling-people-in-1937-that-JFK-would-become-president question-- would most people have been surprised to hear that a Catholic would be elected President given how big of a deal was made over it in the 1960 election?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Yes, I think it would have been surprising to people in 1937 because the first Catholic to be nominated for President by a major party — Al Smith — had only been nominated a few years earlier, in 1928.  Smith lost the 1928 election badly to Herbert Hoover (Popular vote margin: 58%-41%; Electoral vote margin: 444-87).  Smith’s loss to Hoover wasn’t solely because of his Catholic faith, but it certainly played a part in his defeat, especially in parts of the South, which was solidly Democratic at the time.  In 1928, Smith had to battle claims that he would be a pawn of the Pope and rule with the Vatican’s guidance — allegations which Kennedy had to face to lesser extent (but still had to face) in 1960.

The Catholic issue doesn’t seem like as big of an issue to us today until we look at the fact that a Catholic wasn’t nominated for President by a major party until Smith in 1928 and that only one Catholic (JFK) has ever been elected President.  And Joe Biden is the first Catholic Vice President in American history. 

Asker veraslonim Asks:
Have there ever been any Native American candidates for president (or vice president)? Considering how much everyone called President Obama's election a historic moment, do you think there would ever be the same kind of hoopla over a major Native American candidate?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Vice President Charles Curtis (Herbert Hoover’s VP from 1929-1933) was 1/4 Kaw Indian, so we had a President or Vice President of Native American ancestry before we had one who was Catholic, female, black, etc.

William Rufus DeVane King of Alabama was one of the few people in American History who openly sought the Vice Presidency of the United States and when Franklin Pierce was elected President in November 1852, King finally had the opportunity to become the presiding officer of the United States Senate.

Within days of the 1852 election, King found a nagging illness to be worsening.  As the date of his inauguration as Vice President came closer, King developed a vicious cough and lost so much weight that he was almost unrecognizable to friends and colleagues.  The Vice Presidency was finally near his grasp, so King left the cold of a Washington, D.C. winter to attempt to recover his health in the tropical climate of Cuba.

In Cuba, King’s health did not improve.  Though he was supposed to be sworn in on March 4, 1853 in Washington, King found that he didn’t have the strength to even leave the island.  As a tribute to King’s long service, Congress decided to give special authorization for the most unlikely inauguration for any government official in American History.  Twenty days after Franklin Pierce became President, a representative of the United States government met an emaciated William Rufus DeVane King in the small seaside village of Matanzas, Cuba.  King couldn’t stand under his own power, so he as he was helped to his feet and steadied, he took the oath of office as the 13th Vice President of the United States.  King is the only President or Vice President to be inaugurated in a foreign country.

Vice President King never made it back to Washington, D.C.  Determined to return to his country, he made a arduous journey back to his plantation in Cahaba, Alabama.  By the time he arrived in Alabama, King was completely weakened by tuberculosis and near death.  On April 18, 1853, William Rufus DeVane King died at his home at the age of 67.  King served only 45 days as Vice President, a shorter term than all but two Vice Presidents — John Tyler and Andrew Johnson — who served brief terms before succeeding to the Presidency upon the deaths of William Henry Harrison and Abraham Lincoln respectively.

Today, if King is remembered at all, it is not for his brief term as Vice President or the fact that he was inaugurated in Cuba.  What King is most well-known for is probably the long-standing rumor that he and James Buchanan, the 15th President, may have been involved in a homosexual relationship.  Nothing is certain and the rumors can never be proven true, but I’ve written about the allegations before.  What is a fact is that Buchanan and King were incredibly close, lived together for 15 years, were widely considered to be lovers by their contemporaries, wrote long and loving letters to one another (most of which were later destroyed by Buchanan prior to his death, and were the only President and Vice President respectively to remain lifelong bachelors.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Do you have to be 35 years old to be VP too?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Yes.  The Constitutional eligibility requirements for Vice President are exactly the same as the requirements for President.  That’s why a term-limited former President (Bill Clinton, for example) could not be elected Vice President.