Hannibal Hamlin

Three “Unknown” Potential Presidents In Two Assassination Incidents: Abraham Lincoln And William McKinley

As discussed in my new book, ASSASSINATIONS, THREATS, AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY: FROM ANDREW JACKSON TO BARACK OBAMA, in two of our tragic assassinations of American Presidents,  there are three, relatively unknown, potential Presidents who could have emerged.

Two of these individuals are relevant to the Abraham Lincoln Assassination–President Pro Tempore, Senator Lafayette Foster, of Connecticut; and Vice President Hannibal Hamlin.

IF Vice President Andrew Johnson had been killed when Lincoln was, on April 14, 1865, as he was supposed to be under the John Wilkes Booth plot against the US Government, the next in line under the Presidential Succession Act of 1792 would have been Lafayette Foster, an obscure member of the Senate.

IF Lincoln had not replaced first time Vice President Hannibal Hamlin with Andrew Johnson, Hamlin would have become President, instead of Johnson.

Also, when William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, only six months in office, succeeded him, but IF first term Vice President Garret Hobart had not died in office of heart disease in 1899, it is likely he would have been Vice President in the second term, and would, therefore, have become President.  We might not even know who Theodore Roosevelt was, as simply a New York Governor, but not of national significance, other than his role in the Spanish American War as a “Rough Rider” in Cuba.

So these three “unknown” potential Presidents–Lafayette Foster, Hannibal Hamlin, and Garret Hobart—remain in relative obscurity in history, and Andrew Johnson and Theodore Roosevelt became famous!

Presidents Who Had More Than One Vice President While In Office, And Two Presidents Who Shared A Vice President With Another President

America has had 43 Presidents, with Grover Cleveland having two non consecutive terms in office, being the 22nd and 24th Presidents, therefore making Barack Obama President Number 44.

At the same time, we have had 47 Vice Presidents, with two serving under two Presidents, and a total of nine Presidents who had more than one Vice President while in office.

George Clinton served as the second Vice President under Thomas Jefferson and the first term Vice President under James Madison.

John C. Calhoun served as the Vice President under John Quincy Adams and the first term Vice President under Adams’ successor in the Presidency, Andrew Jackson.

Thomas Jefferson had two Vice Presidents, Aaron Burr and George Clinton.

James Madison had two Vice Presidents, George Clinton and Elbridge Gerry.

Andrew Jackson had two Vice Presidents, John C. Calhoun and Martin Van Buren.

Abraham Lincoln had two Vice Presidents, Hannibal Hamlin and Andrew Johnson.

Ulysses S. Grant had two Vice Presidents, Schuyler Colfax and Henry Wilson.

Grover Cleveland had two Vice Presidents, Thomas A. Hendricks, and Adlai Stevenson I.

William McKinley had two Vice Presidents, Garret Hobart and Theodore Roosevelt.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had three Vice Presidents in his four terms of office—John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, and Harry S. Truman.

Finally, Richard Nixon had two Vice Presidents, Spiro T. Agnew and Gerald R. Ford.

Historic Leaders Of The Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is one of the most important of all committees in the history of that body, having begun as early as 1816.

It is one of the most significant committees, with many future potential Presidential seekers wishing to be seen as “experts” on American foreign policy.

It is a committee often in conflict with the President of the United States on strategy and policy toward other nations.

There have been many colorful leaders of the committee, both Democrats and Republicans, who have become famed or notorious for their principles and impact on American foreign policy.

The committee again has become focused on as part of the heated debate over the Iran nuclear deal, and its recent former Chairman, John Kerry, is now the Secretary of State, charged with gaining the support of the committee, which, clearly, however, under Republican control, is a lost cause.

Among its leaders have been Presidential nominees Rufus King, Henry Clay, and John Kerry; President James Buchanan; and Vice Presidents Hannibal Hamlin and Joe Biden.

Such prominent political figures, other than those mentioned above, who served as Chairman of the committee include: Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Sumner, John Sherman, Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., William Borah, Arthur Vandenberg, J. William Fulbright, Frank Church, Charles Percy, Richard Lugar, Claiborne Pell, Jesse Helms, and present Chairman Bob Corker, with Fulbright serving the longest as Chairman, 16 years from 1959-1975.

Those who made the most news included Lodge fighting Woodrow Wilson on the Versailles Treaty and League of Nations; Vandenberg playing a crucial role in backing the containment policy of President Harry Truman, despite them being from different parties; Fulbright fighting against the Vietnam War under Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon; and Helms being a major problem for Bill Clinton on many foreign policy issues.

Presidents Replacing Their Vice Presidents: Not Very Productive

The new book, DOUBLE DOWN: GAME CHANGE 2012, states that Barack Obama’s campaign seriously considered dumping Vice President Joe Biden for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a rumor long believed and promoted.

Would such a change have brought about a different election result? Hardly so, and Obama came to realize that his Vice President was an asset, and that it was best to leave well enough alone.

When one looks at history, it is clear that “dumping” a Vice President is not a good idea, although there have been cases of such situations sometimes being necessary.

This is true of Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, with Burr having tried to take the Presidency away from Jefferson in the Presidential Election of 1800.

It is also true of Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun, who were at tremendous odds over the protective tariff in 1832, with Calhoun finally resigning the Vice Presidency with three months left in the term, before being replaced by Martin Van Buren for Jackson’s second term.

Abraham Lincoln’s decision to dump Hannibal Hamlin for Andrew Johnson in 1864 is seen as a mistake, as Johnson ended up being impeached, although not convicted, by Congress when he became President.

Ulysses S. Grant’s first term Vice President, Schuyler Colfax, being involved in scandal, was replaced by Henry Wilson for the second term, a necessary action, due to the Credit Mobilier Scandal revelations.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had three Vice Presidents in his four terms, with John Nance Garner refusing to run with FDR when he went for his third term. But Henry A. Wallace was replaced with Harry Truman for the fourth term, due to opposition from Southerners and conservatives who worried about Wallace on the issue of race relations, and his views of the Soviet Union during World War II. Looking back, it was better that Truman, rather than Wallace, became President upon FDR’s death in April 1945.

Gerald Ford is the last President to replace his Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller, with the choice of Bob Dole, but that helped to defeat him in a close race with Jimmy Carter.

Overall, it is best for a President to stick with his Vice President when running for a second term, unless there are extenuating circumstances as with Jefferson, Jackson, Grant and FDR.

The “What Ifs” Of The Vice Presidency And Succession To The Presidency!

The “What If”s of history are a topic that continues to fascinate, such as Jeff Greenfield’s new book on a second term in the Presidency of John F. Kennedy, had he not been assassinated.

There are so many examples of situations where a Vice President could have become President, and the fortunes of history did not make that work out. And twice, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate could have become President, as next in line, and with no Vice President at the time of the situation!

A total of 15 circumstances could have occurred, as follows:

John Tyler came close to being killed on the USS Princeton on a Potomac River trip on February 28, 1844, when an explosion occurred, killing the Secretary of State and Secretary of the Navy, but Tyler was unhurt. Had he died, and with no Vice President, as Tyler had succeeded William Henry Harrison in 1841, the President of the United States Senate would have been President Pro Tempore Senator Willie P. Mangum of North Carolina, a Whig Party member..

James K. Polk had constant intestinal ailments during his one term in office from 1845-1849, and chose not to run again, and died 103 days after his Presidency. Had he died during the term, Vice President George M. Dallas would have been President.

If Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated in his first term, rather than his second, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin would have been President, and Andrew Johnson would not have been President.

If Andrew Johnson had been convicted on impeachment charges in 1868, President Pro Tempore Benjamin Wade, Senator from Ohio, would have been President.

If Grover Cleveland, who had surgery for jaw cancer in 1893, had died, Vice President Adlai Stevenson I, the grandfather of the two time Democratic nominee for President in 1952 and 1956, would have been President.

If William McKinley’s first term Vice President, Garret Hobart, had not died in 1899, he likely would have been Vice President in the second term, when McKinley was assassinated in 1901, and Hobart would have been President, and Theodore Roosevelt would not have been President.

If Woodrow Wilson, having suffered a paralytic stroke which limited his ability to do his job for the last 18 months of his Presidency, had either died or resigned, Vice President Thomas Marshall would have been President.

If Franklin D. Roosevelt had been killed in an assassination attempt 17 days before his Presidency began, John Nance Garner would have been President.

If Franklin D. Roosevelt had not “dumped” Vice President Henry A. Wallace for his fourth term, Wallace would have been President, and not Harry Truman.

If Harry Truman had been successfully assassinated in a 1950 attempt, Vice President Alben Barkley would have been President.

If Gerald Ford had been a victim in either assassination attempt against him in September 1975, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller would have been President.

If Jimmy Carter had been the victim of John Hinckley, who stalked him at a campaign event in October 1980, the same person who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan less than six months later, Vice President Walter Mondale would have been President.

If George H. W. Bush had died of an atrial fibrillation during his term, Vice President Dan Quayle would have been President.

If Bill Clinton had been removed on impeachment charges or resigned during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Vice President Al Gore would have been President.

And if George W. Bush had been shot down by terrorists on September 11, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney would have been President

Try to imagine Andrew Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman NOT being Presidents!

And imagine Presidents Willie P. Mangum, George M. Dallas, Hannibal Hamlin, Benjamin Wade, Adlai Stevenson I, Garret Hobart, Thomas Marshall, John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, Alben Barkley, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Mondale, Dan Quayle, Al Gore and Dick Cheney as Presidents of the United States, which would have meant, instead of nine Vice Presidents succeeding to the Presidency during a term, it could have been 19 Vice Presidents out of 44, nearly half (leaving out Vice Presidents Andrew Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman from the list of 47 Vice Presidents)! Plus two Presidents Pro Tempore of the Senate would have been President!

The US Senate: Grooming Ground For The Presidency And Vice Presidency!

It has been said that the US Senate, the greatest deliberative legislative body in the world, is the grooming ground for the Presidency and Vice Presidency.

So therefore, it is worth a look at the facts regarding this statement.

So which Presidents had served in the US Senate, in chronological order: (a total of 16 Presidents)

James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Andrew Johnson
Benjamin Harrison
Warren G. Harding
Harry Truman
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Barack Obama

However, and this is stunning, only THREE of these Presidents were directly elected from the US Senate to the White House—Harding, Kennedy, and Obama.

And four of these Presidents who served in the Senate were not originally elected, but succeeded a President who had died in office—Tyler, Andrew Johnson, Truman, and Lyndon Johnson.

And notice 10 of these 16 Presidents who had served in the US Senate did so in the 19th century, and
except for Harding in the early 1920s, while four others were President between 1945 and 1974, with Obama the 16th and most recent example, but really a fluke as only the third elected directly from the Senate.

When we examine which Senators became Vice President of the United States, we discover the following in chronological order: (a total of 22 Vice Presidents)

Aaron Burr
Martin Van Buren
Richard Mentor Johnson
John Tyler
George M. Dallas
William R. King
John C. Breckinridge
Hannibal Hamlin
Andrew Johnson
Henry Wilson
Thomas A. Hendricks
Charles W. Fairbanks
Charles Curtis
Harry Truman
Alben Barkley
Richard Nixon
Lyndon B. Johnson
Hubert H. Humphrey
Walter Mondale
Dan Quayle
Al Gore
Joe Biden

Of this list of 22 Vice Presidents who had served in the Senate, six became President–Van Buren, Tyler, Andrew Johnson, Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Nixon.

So the Senate gave us about 40 percent of our Presidents, and about 50 percent of our Vice Presidents.

Presidential-Vice Presidential Relationships Rarely Warm

When one looks at the relationships between Presidents and Vice Presidents historically, it is clear that most Presidents look at their Vice Presidents and see their own mortality; often see the Vice President as a rival; often have disdain for the Vice President; and often do not support the Vice President in his Presidential ambitions to follow the President in office.

Examples of the above abound:

George Washington ignored John Adams, and Adams lamented that he was in an office that had no influence or respect.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were at constant odds, being of different political parties, and elected together by the early quirks of the Electoral College, later resolved by the 12th Amendment to the Constitution in 1804.

Thomas Jefferson literally refused to recognize Aaron Burr, after Burr tried to steal the Presidency from him in 1800, with Burr’s contention that he and Jefferson had ended up in a “tie” vote in the Electoral College, forcing Alexander Hamilton, a rival of both Jefferson and Burr to intervene and call for support of Jefferson, which led to the gun duel between Hamilton and Burr in 1804, and Hamilton’s tragic death.

John Quincy Adams discovered that John C. Calhoun was undermining him, and Calhoun switched sides and ran with Andrew Jackson in 1828.

However, Jackson and Calhoun became bitter rivals, and the Nullification Crisis over the protective tariff, with Calhoun enunciating the doctrine of states rights, nullification, interposition, and secession almost led to civil war, prevented by the intervention of Henry Clay, but only after Jackson threatened to hang Calhoun, a threat that could not be ignored, since Jackson had killed several opponents in gun duels.

Abraham Lincoln hardly dealt with his first term Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin, and then “dumped” him, for Andrew Johnson, someone he hardly knew.

When Theodore Roosevelt decided not to run for another term in 1908, he ignored his own Vice President, Charles Fairbanks, and backed his Secretary of War, William Howard Taft.

Woodrow Wilson gave little concern to the role of his Vice President, Thomas Marshall, and when Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919, he did not intervene to prevent his wife from preventing Marshall from visiting him, and ascertaining the state of his health, or allow him to take over Presidential authority.

Franklin D. Roosevelt ignored his three Vice Presidents—John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, and Harry Truman. This led Garner to say the Vice Presidency was not worth a pitcher of “warm spit”. Wallace was allowed to “hang in the wind” over his public statements on civil rights, and be “dumped” on the demand of Southern Democrats in 1944. Harry Truman was not informed of anything, including the atomic bomb project, in his brief Vice Presidency.

Dwight D. Eisenhower had a strong dislike for his Vice President, Richard Nixon, as shown by his original plan to “dump” Nixon in 1956; his lukewarm support of Nixon in 1960; and his having problems remembering Nixon as a potential future nominee in 1964. At the end, however, Ike witnessed his grandson, David, marry Nixon’s younger daughter, Julie, and was supportive of Nixon in his last year of life, the first year of the Nixon Presidency.

John F. Kennedy failed to use the talents of Lyndon B. Johnson, his Vice President, to a great extent due to the hatred of his brother, Robert Kennedy, for LBJ. Robert Kennedy went out of his way to embarrass and humiliate Johnson in every way possible.

Johnson abused his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, once he realized that Humphrey was critical of his Vietnam War policies. He threatened to leave Humphrey out of his cabinet meetings, and forced him to speak up for the war, which undermined Humphrey’s own Presidential campaign in 1968. And secretly, because Humphrey started to veer from support of the administration policies late in the campaign, Johnson hoped for a victory of Richard Nixon.

Richard Nixon utilized his Vice President, Spiro Agnew for political gain, but showed little respect for him, and let him “hang in the wind” when Agnew was forced out of the Vice Presidency in 1973. And Nixon picked Gerald Ford as his successor Vice President under the 25th Amendment, thinking that this insured that Nixon would not be impeached and be removed from office.

Gerald Ford had a strong respect for Nelson Rockefeller, who he selected as his Vice President, but yet “dumped” him for Bob Dole in the 1976 Presidential race.

Ronald Reagan was never close to George H. W. Bush, who had been his chief rival for the 1980 Presidential nomination, and never invited the Bushes to a private dinner at the White House, although he utilized Bush’s expertise in foreign policy and intelligence, as Bush had been head of the CIA.

Bush did not care for Dan Quayle very much, and considered “dumping” him in 1992 over Quayle’s embarrassing flubs. Quayle was given less involvement in the administration than his recent predecessors, and when he tried for the Presidential nomination in 1996, Bush did not back him in any way.

Bill Clinton was closer to Al Gore, but their friendship and collaboration suffered greatly during the scandal over Monica Lewinsky, and the pursuant impeachment trial. Gore decided not to ask Clinton, who remained popular, to work for him in the last days of the 2000 Presidential campaign. After his defeat, there were recriminations between Gore and Clinton over who had been responsible for Gore’s defeat.

George W. Bush relied on his Vice President, Dick Cheney, a lot in the first term, but became estranged from Cheney in the second term over the Scooter Libby scandal and in other ways, as Bush asserted himself much more, making clear he did not need Cheney as much as in the first term.

With all of the above examples of estrangement, or lack of closeness of Presidents with their Vice Presidents, there are two shining examples of very close, warm relationships between two Presidents and their Vice Presidents.

These would be Jimmy Carter with Walter Mondale, and Barack Obama with Joe Biden.

Carter and Mondale were the closest team in American history, with Carter allowing Mondale to share just about every decision in a way no Vice President, before or since, was able to do, and they remained close personal friends, for what is now the all time record of 32 PLUS years out of the Presidency, the longest lasting team in American history, with Carter now 88 plus and Mondale just passing 85, and both still in good health. No sense of any rift has ever existed between the two men, and their relationship was the smoothest ever, a lot of it due to Carter’s lack of insecurity about his Vice President, a testimonial to the former President!

Also, every indication is that Obama and Biden have as close a relationship, but with Biden nearly a generation older, while Carter and Mondale are less than four years apart in age. It seems as if there might be some issues between Obama and Biden, but that will have to be left to the future to find out. Also, a question arises as to how Obama will handle a possible competition for the next Presidential nomination between Biden and Hillary Clinton, both of whom have been crucial to his Presidency’s success so far.

So the Presidential-Vice Presidential relationships have been almost always far from warm and close, with only the two exceptions mentioned above.

This would be an excellent topic for a future scholarly study!

Unpleasant Presidential-Vice Presidential Ties Throughout American History

It has become evident that in many cases, no love is lost between sitting Presidents and Vice Presidents, who often link up for electoral reasons, but often have poor chemistry in working together. And many times, a President has wished to “dump” his Vice President, when running for another term in office, and a few times has done so.

Examples of unpleasant Presidential-Vice Presidential relationships include:

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, with Jefferson, the opponent in the 1796 Presidential election, becoming Vice President, but leading to the 12th Amendment in 1804, to prevent any future such combination. The two men fought each other bitterly, and opposed each other again in 1800.

Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, “tied” in electoral votes in 1800, forcing the election to the House of Representatives, leading to Alexander Hamilton’s endorsement of Jefferson and trashing of Burr, and causing Hamilton’s death in a gun duel with Burr in 1804. Jefferson had no relationship with Burr, after Burr tried to “steal” the election, and he was “dumped” in 1804.

John Quincy Adams and John C Calhoun, who were rivals in 1824, had totally different views of the protective tariff, with Calhoun switching to support of Andrew Jackson and running with Jackson in 1828.

Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun were elected together in 1828, but Calhoun broke with Jackson over the protective tariff, resigning, and creating a potential threat of civil war, with the Nullification Crisis of 1833, resolved by a compromise devised by Henry Clay. Jackson even threatened to kill Calhoun if he promoted secession of South Carolina from the Union.

William Henry Harrison, elected with John Tyler in 1840, had totally divergent views since Tyler was a Democrat running on the Whig Party line, and Tyler succeeded to the Presidency when Harrison died after one month in office in 1841, and the Whigs made Tyler’s life miserable.

Abraham Lincoln and his first Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin, elected in 1860, hardly knew each other, and the indications are that Hamlin had no major role in the administration, and was replaced by Andrew Johnson on the ticket for 1864 for political reasons.

Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, elected together in 1864, with Lincoln picking Democrat Johnson to help win support in the North, then was assassinated, and succeeded by Johnson after six weeks of the second term in 1865.

James Garfield and Chester Alan Arthur were elected together in 1880, from different factions of the Republican Party, and when Garfield died from assassination wounds six months into office, Arthur finished up the rest of the term from 1881-1885.

Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Marshall were elected together in 1912, but Marshall was “kept out of the loop”, and when Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919, was denied access to the President by Mrs. Wilson, never knowing the extent of Wilson’s incapacity for the rest of the term to 1921.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and his first Vice President, John Nance Garner were elected to two terms together in 1932 and 1936, with Garner unhappy with the New Deal programs, and wanting to succeed FDR in 1940, and alienated when FDR ran for a third term in 1940.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and his second Vice President, Henry A. Wallace were elected together in 1940, but Wallace was “dumped” by FDR in 1944, to please Southern Democrats unhappy with Wallace’s advocacy of civil rights for African Americans, and his backing of close relations with the Soviet Union.

Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon were elected together in 1952 and 1956, but Ike wished to “dump” Nixon in 1956 although that did not happen, and he was less than supportive of Nixon in 1960 and 1968.

John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, elected together in 1960, were never close, having been rivals for the Presidential nomination, with LBJ feeling slighted by Robert F. Kennedy, the Attorney General and brother of the President, and rumors swirling that he would be “dumped” in 1964, if Kennedy had lived.

Lyndon B. Johnson and Hubert H. Humphrey were elected together in 1964, but with Humphrey feeling mistreated by LBJ, and unhappy as Vice President, seeing himself trapped, and being undermined when he was the Presidential nominee in 1968, and LBJ working against him when Humphrey ran against Richard Nixon.

Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were elected together in 1968 and 1972, with Agnew feeling “used” by Nixon to do his “dirty work” against the news media, and gaining no support from Nixon when in legal trouble over accepting bribes, leading to his resignation in 1973. Agnew refused to speak ever again to his former boss.

Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush were never close, and the Bushes were never invited to the White House by the Reagans, after their two victories in elections in 1980 and 1984.

George H. W. Bush and Dan Quayle were elected together in 1988, with obvious discomfort by Bush as to Quayle’s performance in his term of office as Vice President, and considered “dumping” him in 1992, but not done in that losing re-election effort.

Bill Clinton and Al Gore, elected together in 1992 and 1996, got along well, but after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a growing divide occurred between the two men, and Gore decided not to have Clinton help him in the Presidential campaign of 2000, and then the two men had angry words in a confrontation in the Oval Office after the defeat.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, elected together in 2000 and 2004, originally worked well together, but Bush then ignored Cheney’s advice often in the second term, and refused Cheney’s request that Scooter Libby be given a pardon. Cheney, in his memoir, made clear that his relationship with Bush had cooled.

So often, the relationship between President and Vice President has been a very difficult one, an interesting aspect of American history!

Exceptions to this were the close relationship of Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller between 1974 and 1977, although Rockefeller was “dumped” from the ticket in 1976 for Bob Dole, a move that Ford later said he did for political reasons, and greatly regretted; the extremely close ties between Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale between 1977-1981, with Mondale practically a “Co President”; and the present relationship between Barack Obama and Joe Biden since 2009.

Vice Presidents Who Just Missed The Presidency: Hannibal Hamlin, Garret Hobart, John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, Spiro Agnew, Nelson Rockefeller

American history records that we have had 43 Presidents of the United States.

What is often NOT recorded is how six Vice Presidents came so close to the Presidency, but circumstances prevented them from doing so.

Three situations involved the timing of the death of the President; while two involved the fortune of two attempted Presidential assassinations failing to succeed; and one involved a Vice President being forced from office before the President in office resigned in disgrace.

Imagine if any of the following Vice Presidents had become President, how it would have changed history!

Hannibal Hamlin was the first term Vice President under Abraham Lincoln from 1861-1865, and then was replaced on the electoral ticket by Andrew Johnson. Six weeks after Hamlin left the Vice Presidency, Johnson became President, upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and is seen by many as a true disaster, possibly the worst President in American history, and in any case facing an unsuccessful impeachment in office which he survived. One might imagine that Hamlin, a former Senator from Maine, would have, somehow, avoided the fate of Andrew Johnson and dealt with Southern Reconstruction in a different way that would have affected the nation long term.

Garret Hobart was Vice President in the first term of William McKInley, but died in office in November 1899, after about two years, eight and a half months in office. He had been a leader in the New Jersey state legislature, and was considered to have added to the Vice Presidency by his regular presiding of the US Senate, his being considered a Presidential adviser, and his being often called an “assistant President”, a new term at the time. Had he not died in office, he would have been on the ticket with President McKinley in 1900, and would have succeeded McKinley as President when McKinley was assassinated in September 1901. Instead, Theodore Roosevelt became President, and changed the course of American history in massive ways, and ushered in the Progressive Era!

John Nance Garner had had a long career in the US House of Representatives, and was Speaker of the House, when chosen by Franklin D. Roosevelt to be his Vice President in the 1932 Presidential Election. As President-Elect, FDR was subjected to an assassination attempt in Miami, Florida, on February 15, 1933, just 17 days before the inauguration. Fortunately, the assassin’s bullets did not hit FDR, but instead Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, and FDR was spared. Otherwise, Garner would have become President on March 4, 1933, but with his conservative and southern (Texas) heritage, it is highly doubtful that the New Deal would have occurred, denying us the most important and greatest President of the 20th century, and making one wonder how America would have dealt with the Great Depression.

During FDR’s third term as President, Henry A. Wallace, formerly Secretary of Agriculure, became his Vice President, and actively pursued the issue of civil rights, and also the issue of relations with our World War II ally, the Soviet Union. He alienated conservatives and Southerners in the Democratic Party, and when FDR decided to run for a fourth term, he replaced Wallace with Harry Truman, who became President 82 days after the fourth term began with FDR’s death, and changed the course of history. One has to wonder how Wallace would have conducted himself as President, particularly since he was highly critical of Truman’s Cold War policy toward the Soviet Union after World War II.

Spiro Agnew was Vice President for four and a half years under Richard Nixon from 1969-1973, and was loyal to Nixon, making himself controversial as he attacked liberals and the news media in Nixon’s behalf. But Agnew was forced out by personal financial corruption in the office of the Vice Presidency, as well as revelations about earlier such corruption in the office of the Maryland Governor and Baltimore County Executive in his years in public office before the Vice Presidency. Nixon, himself under attack in the Watergate scandal, did nothing to support Agnew, and Agnew resigned. Had this corruption not been revealed, Agnew would have become President upon the resignation of Richard Nixon on August 9, 1974. Instead, we had the Presidency of Gerald Ford for two years, five and a half months, after Ford had been a member of the US House of Representatives from Michigan, and Minority Leader of the House for almost nine years, with only a goal of someday being Speaker of the House.

When Gerald Ford was President, he chose Nelson Rockefeller , former Governor of New York and three time Presidential aspirant, as his appointed Vice President under the 25th Amendment. Then, Ford was subjected to TWO assassination attempts in Sacramento and San Francisco, California, seventeen days apart in September 1975. Both assassins missed the President, but had either been successful, Rockefeller would finally have achieved what he wanted the most, the Presidency of the United States.

So imagine how Hamlin, Hobart, Garner, Wallace, Agnew and Rockefeller MIGHT have changed the course of American history has they become President–instead of Andrew Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Gerald Ford!