The Vice Presidency — By the Numbers

By
Thursday, October 02, 2008 at 8:14 am
John Nance Garner (Wikimedia Commons)

John Nance Garner (Wikimedia Commons)

Despite Vice President John Nance Garner’s notorious description that the vice-presidency as not worth a pitcher of warm spit,” the fact is that the office, and who holds it, matter enormously.

That was true in Garner’s time and even more so today. Nine vice-presidents before him had advanced to the presidency, six by succeeding a deceased president.

Five more men have been added to that list since Garner’s day, three because of the death or resignation of the elected president.

And recent vice-presidents have been granted considerably greater responsibilities than their predecessors while holding the No. 2 office. Consider, for example, Lyndon B. Johnson and the space program; Al Gore and environmental policy, or Dick Cheney and national security.

Warm spit indeed.

What follows is a capsule account of the 46 vice presidents.

* Total number of presidential terms since 1789: 55

* Number of persons who have served as president: 43 (Grover Cleveland is usually counted twice — as both the 22nd and 24th president — so the actual number is 42)

* Presidents who died of natural causes in office: 4 (William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt)
their average age at death: 63
average length of elected term before death: 12 months

* Presidents assassinated: 4 (Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, John F. Kennedy)
their average age at death: 52
average length of elected term before death: 12 months

John Tyler (Wikimedia Commons)

John Tyler (Wikimedia Commons)

*President who resigned: 1 (Richard M. Nixon)
age at leaving office: 61
length of elected term served before resignation: 20 months

*Political party of presidents who died in office or resigned: Whigs: 2; Democrats: 2; Republicans: 5

*Average age on leaving office of all presidents who died or resigned: 58

*Average length of elected term served before death or departure: 13 months

*Percentage of elected terms interrupted by death from natural causes: 7.3 percent (4/55)

*Percentage of elected terms interrupted by assassination: 7.3 percent (4/55)

*Percentage of all presidential terms served in part by vice presidents: 16.4 percent (9/55)

*Number of persons who have served as vice president: 46

*Number of vice presidents who became president: 14 (John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler, Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, George H.W. Bush)

*Percentage of vice presidents who became president: 30.4 percent (14/46)

*Average length of term served by vice president who assumed office on death or departure of the president: 35 months

*Number of vice presidents who completed the term of a departed president and were later nominated in their own right for the presidency: 5 (Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford)

*Number of vice presidents who completed the term of a departed president and were later nominated for the presidency and won: 4 (all but Gerald Ford)

Chester Arthur (Wikimedia Commons)

Chester Arthur (Wikimedia Commons)

*Number of vice presidents who completed the term of a departed president and were not nominated by their party for a full presidential term: 4 (John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur)

*Number of vice presidents who assumed the presidency on death or resignation of the president, and their highest office achieved prior to vice presidency: 9

o John Tyler: U.S. senator and governor of Virginia

o Millard Fillmore: congressman (chairman of Committee on Ways and Means)

o Andrew Johnson: U.S. senator and governor of Tennessee

o Chester Arthur: Collector of New York customhouse

o Theodore Roosevelt: governor of New York

o Calvin Coolidge: governor of Massachusetts

o Harry Truman: U.S. senator

o Lyndon Johnson: U.S. senator (Senate Majority Leader)

o Gerald Ford: congressman (House Minority Leader)

*Percentage of terms of persons elected originally to the presidency not served by those so elected: 17.6 percent (9/51)

*Percentage of vice presidents who became president due to departure of originally elected president: 19.6 percent (9/46)

David M. Kennedy is Donald J. McLachlan professor of history at Stanford University. His book, “Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945,” won the Pulitzer Prize for history. Sarah Anzia is a doctoral candidate in political science at Stanford.

Comments

6 Comments

James Kilbourne
Comment posted October 2, 2008 @ 10:40 am

It was a pitcher of warm piss, actually.


williambanzai7
Comment posted October 2, 2008 @ 11:55 am

MAMA MOOSE SHOOTER
(to Barracuda, Heart)
WilliamBanzai7

So this ain't the end – I saw you again today
Had to turn my high powered rifle away
You smiled in the sun – Moose steaks for everyone
and tails – it never fails!

You lying so low in the skunk weeds
Bet you gonna ambush me
You'd have me down on my knees
Wouldn't you, MAMA Moose Shooter?

Back over time when I was just trying to be Aunt Bea
John McCain proposed to appoint me VP
No right no wrong “you're selling a product” – its just a name
game “MaMa Palin and Old Numbnuts”

Since the real thing won't do the trick
You better come up with some cheap campaign tricks
Cause you gonna burn out your short redneck wick
aren't you, MaMa Moose Shooter?

“Sell me sell you” the the old man said
Dive down deep to bring me back from the dead
You… I think you come from the shallow GOP zoo.
Everyone knows that every GOP Freak wants a gun toting VeeP

All that night and all the next
Swam the Bering Strait without coming up for air
Swim moose swim, here comes MaMa Moose Shooter!


Ralph P Dickerson
Comment posted February 11, 2009 @ 12:09 am

your blog is great!


Jeffrey Rainer
Comment posted February 16, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

the article is awsome


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Comment posted October 6, 2009 @ 9:16 am

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