We’re used to seeing a president and a vice president, but more than a dozen times throughout American history, there hasn’t been a sitting VP.
In 1967, the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution established the procedures for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President. Before that, however, there was no standard procedure for selecting or electing a new Vice President in the event that something happened to the President while in office. In fact, the office of the Vice President has been left vacant 16 times over the course of American history. Seven of those vacancies occurred when Vice Presidents became Presidents, unexpectedly (when the Presidents died in office). One Vice President, John C. Calhoun, resigned from the position. Other Presidents simply didn’t have Vice Presidents to begin with!
The first American president to spend part of his time in office without a #2 was James Madison who was savvy enough to win two terms in office. One thing he wasn’t good at? Choosing his vice presidents apparently. Both men he chose for his first and second terms died part of the way through them, so he simply finished his terms without a veep!
The situation arose again for a longer period of time in 1841 when John Tyler left his spot as the vice president to become the president (his president, William Henry Harrison, died after just a month in office). Tyler served the entirety of his term without a vp. A similar situation occurred with Millard Fillmore who became president after his #1 died as well.
Consequently, if the president died and the vice president became president or the vice-president died in office, there was no vice-president until the next presidential election. Those presidents, such as Andrew Johnson and Chester A. Arthur, who were never elected as president, therefore never had a vice-president.
Luckily Richard Nixon had the good sense to appoint a second vice president after his first (Spiro Agnew) resigned when caught taking bribes. Well, good sense, plus the 25th Amendment (ratified in 1967) which required a Vice President at all times. When Nixon himself resigned in disgrace, his second vice president, Gerald Ford, became president. And thus ended the tradition of leaving the vice presidential slot empty: America has never been without a vice president since.
- Nixon was caught on tape saying of his dying troops in Vietnam: “Screw em”
- The 9th US President Died of a Cold… Which he May Have Caught at His Own Inauguration Ceremony
- Nixon Had a Speech Prepared In Case the Apollo 11 Astronauts Were Stranded in Space
- President Harry S Truman Didn’t Actually Have a Middle Name
- Members of the Electoral College Have Voted Their Own Way 158 Times