Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #46 - "Sherman's Death 101"

The first time a vice president died in office was in the year 1812 and the last time a vice president died in office was in 1912.

James S. Sherman of New York, 27th VPOTUS.

In the 1912 presidential election, the Republicans renominated President William Howard Taft and Vice President James S. Sherman that summer. It was the first time in 84 years that a vice president was being considered for reelection.

That moment 84 years ago was Vice President John C. Calhoun's reelection in 1828 with Andrew Jackson. Four years prior to the 1828 election Calhoun was the running mate for both Jackson and John Quincy Adams. While neither of those candidates secured a majority in the Electoral College, Calhoun did. JQA won the election in the House of Representatives and was defeated in '28. So, Calhoun's reelection was with a different president.

Daniel Tompkins of New York, 6th VPOTUS.

The last time a vice president was reelected with the same president was in 1820 when James Monroe and Daniel Tompkins cruised to victory in the Electoral College without much competition.

Death and the vice presidency seems more rampant than in the presidency. Not including assassinations, there have been 4 presidents that have died of natural cause: William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren Harding and Franklin Roosevelt. In the vice presidency there have been 7 deaths. The first death in the vice presidency was when the 4th VPOTUS, George Clinton died on April 20, 1812. Vice President Clinton, no relation to the presidential Clinton, was the first to be elected and serve with 2 different presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Clinton's successor won election with President Madison in the fall of 1812, but like Clinton Vice President Elbridge Gerry, the 5th VPOTUS, would not live out the term becoming the second vice president to die in office. Madison and his dying vice presidents.

William R. King of Alabama, 13th VPOTUS.
The next VPOTUS to die in office would be in 1853 with the lucky 13th vice president, William R. King. Vice President King was the first and only VPOTUS to be sworn in on foreign soil, Cuba. King won election in 1852 with Franklin Pierce. Pierce's presidency started with the death of his son on the train ride from New Hampshire to Washington, while just a little over a month in to the new administration and Vice President King died.

President Ulysses S. Grant's second vice president, Henry Wilson, the 18th VPOTUS, would join the list in 1875. Ten years later in 1885, Thomas A. Hendricks, the 21st VPOTUS, died less than a year into the first term of the new administration headed by Grover Cleveland. Before the 19th Century ended in 1899, one more VPOTUS passed away. President William McKinley's first vice president, Garret Hobart, the 24th VPOTUS, died leaving the office vacant until Theodore Roosevelt was nominated in 1900 to shut him up.

TR would of course get the nomination and be sworn in as the 25th VPOTUS in March of 1901, however he would become the 26th POTUS six months later. It's during the 1912 election that a former President Roosevelt is seeking a third, non-consecutive, term. With the Republican Party split between Progressives and Conservatives, the Democratic ticket with Woodrow Wilson at the top of it won the election. Roosevelt 26's Progressive Party, or Bull Moose Party, did what no 3rd Party has done before or since, placing 2nd in the popular and electoral votes. So the ticket of Taft/Sherman placed 3rd, but had they won the Republican Party designated Nicholas M. Butler to receive the electoral votes that would've gone to Sherman. In the end the office remained vacant until Thomas Marshall was sworn-in on March 4, 1913. Vice President Marshall would become the first VPOTUS to win reelection with the same POTUS, Wilson, since Monroe/Tompkins.

Thomas Marshall of Indiana, 28th VPOTUS.

As the 20th Century moved on there would be no more deaths in the vice presidency. There would be more renominations of vice presidents and the occasional moving on (FDR in 1940, 1944 and Gerald Ford in 1976). While the office remained vacant whenever there was a death, in either the presidency or the vice presidency, it wouldn't be until 1967 when the Constitution provided a way to fill the vacancy. The sign now outside the Vice President's office reads: "101 Years Without a Death".

Joe Biden of Delaware, 47th VPOTUS.

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