Mark O. Hatfield, with the Senate Historical Office,
Vice Presidents of the United States, 1789-1993,
Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997, pp. xiii-xxiii.)
Holding the least understood, most ridiculed, and most often ignored constitutional office in the federal government, American vice presidents have included some remarkable individuals. Fourteen of the forty-four former vice presidents became president of the United States — more than half of them after a president had died. One defeated the sitting president with whom he served. One murdered a man and became a fugitive. One joined the Confederate army and led an invasion of Washington, D.C. One was the wealthiest banker of his era. One received the Nobel Peace Prize and composed a popular melody. One served as a corporal in the Coast Guard while vice president. One had cities in Oregon and Texas named after him. Two resigned the office. Two were never elected by the people. One was the target of a failed assassination plot. One was mobbed in his car while on a goodwill mission. Seven died in office — one in his room in the U.S. Capitol and two fatally stricken while on their way to preside over the Senate. And one piano-playing vice president suffered political repercussions from a photograph showing him playing that instrument while famous movie actress Lauren Bacall posed seductively on top of it.
I have encountered these and many other stories over the past four years in the course of my inquiry into the history of the American vice-presidency. As is apparent from such examples, the men who served as vice president of the United States varied greatly in their talents and aptitude for the post. What they generally had in common was political ambition and experience in public office. Most hoped the position would prove a stepping stone to the presidency, but some — old and tired near the close of their careers — simply hoped that it would offer a quiet refuge from political pressures and turmoil.
The stories of these diverse individuals attempt to sketch the development of the vice-presidency itself - that colorful, important, and routinely disparaged American political institution.
Constitutional Origins and Structural Changes of the Vice Presidency
Our Constitution's framers created the vice-presidency almost as an afterthought. In setting up a system for electing presidents, they devised an electoral college and provided that each of its members was to vote for two persons, "of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves." In those days when loyalty to one's state was stronger than to the new nation, the framers recognized that individual electors might be inclined to choose a leader from their own immediate political circle, creating the danger of a crippling deadlock, as no one candidate would win a plurality of all votes cast. By being required to select one candidate from outside their own states, electors would be compelled to look for individuals of national stature. Under the system the framers created, the candidate receiving the most electoral votes would be president. The one coming in second would be vice president.
In the election of 1800, however, the constitutional system for electing presidents broke down, as both Jefferson and Aaron Burr received the same number of electoral votes. This impasse threw the contest into the House of Representatives, where for thirty-five separate ballots, neither candidate was able to gain a majority. When the stalemate was finally broken, the House elected Jefferson president, thus making Aaron Burr our third vice president. Within four years of this deadlocked election, Congress had passed, and the necessary number of states had ratified, the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, instituting the present system wherein electors cast separate ballots for president and for vice president.
Although the office of vice president did not exist under the Continental Congresses or the Articles of Confederation, the concept of a concurrently elected successor to the executive was not without precedent for the framers of the Constitution in 1787. Prior to the Revolution, lieutenant governors presided over the governors' councils of the royal colonies — which, in their legislative capacities, functioned as upper houses. John Adams was certainly familiar with this arrangement, since the lieutenant governor presided over the upper house in his own state of Massachusetts. After the states declared their independence, they adopted new constitutions, retaining, in some instances, earlier forms recast to meet current needs. As Alexander Hamilton noted in The Federalist No. 68, New York's 1777 constitution provided for "a Lieutenant Governor chosen by the people at large, who presides in the senate, and is the constitutional substitute for the Governor in casualties similar to those, which would authorise the vice-president to exercise the authorities and discharge the duties of the president." The Constitution established the office of vice president primarily to provide a successor in the event of the president's death, disability, or resignation.
The document, however, was vague about the way the presidential succession would work, stating only that, in cases of presidential death or disability, the "Powers and Duties of the said Office . . . shall devolve on the Vice President" (Article II, section 1). What did "devolve" mean? Would the vice president become acting president until another was chosen, or would he become president in his own right? A half-century would pass before the nation would have to address that murky constitutional language. Although the Constitution's framers kept their intentions about presidential succession shrouded in ambiguity, they left no doubt about vice-presidential succession. There was to be none. "[I]n the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of the President of the United States" the Senate would simply choose a president pro tempore.
The framers' failure to provide a method for filling a vice-presidential vacancy continued to plague the nation. In 1792 Congress made a first stab at addressing the problem by adopting the Presidential Succession Act, providing that, if a president should die when there was no vice president, the Senate president pro tempore and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in that order, would succeed to the office. In 1886, responding to a concern that few presidents pro tempore had executive branch experience, Congress altered the line of succession to substitute for the congressional officials cabinet officers in order of rank, starting with the secretary of state. In 1947, after the vice-presidency had been vacant for most of a presidential term, Congress again changed the line of succession. Concerned that cabinet officers had not been elected, it named the House Speaker as the first official to succeed if a president died during a vacancy in the vice-presidency, followed by the president pro tempore.
Finally, after the death of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the resulting vice-presidential vacancy, Congress debated what became the second constitutional amendment related to the structure of the vice-presidency. In 1967, the Twenty-fifth Amendment, addressing presidential vacancy and disability, became part of our Constitution. The absence of any provision for filling a vice-presidential vacancy had become intolerable in the nuclear age. Added impetus for the change came from a growing public concern at the time about the advanced ages of President pro tempore Carl Hayden, who was eighty, and House Speaker John W. McCormack, who was seventy-six. The amendment states that the president may appoint a vice president to fill a vacancy in that office, subject to approval by both houses of Congress. Before a decade had passed, the provision was used twice, first in 1973 when President Nixon appointed Gerald R. Ford to replace Spiro Agnew, who had resigned, and again in 1974, with the appointment of Nelson Rockefeller after Nixon himself resigned and Ford became president. The amendment also sets forth very specifically the steps that would permit the vice president to serve as acting president if a president becomes "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." Each of these changes further reflected the increased importance of the office.
The framers also devoted scant attention to the vice president's duties, providing only that he "shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be evenly divided" (Article I, section 3). In practice, the number of times vice presidents have exercised this right has varied greatly. More than half the total number of 233 tie-breaking votes occurred before 1850, with John Adams holding the record at 29 votes, followed closely by John C. Calhoun with 28. Since the 1870s, no vice president has cast as many as 10 tie-breaking votes. While vice presidents have used their votes chiefly on legislative issues, they have also broken ties on the election of Senate officers, as well as on the appointment of committees in 1881 when the parties were evenly represented in the Senate.
The vice president's other constitutionally mandated duty was to receive from the states the tally of electoral ballots cast for president and vice president and to open the certificates "in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives," so that the total votes could be counted (Article II, section 1). Only a few happy vice presidents — John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, and George Bush — had the pleasure of announcing their own election as president. Many more were chagrined to announce the choice of some rival for the office.
Several framers ultimately refused to sign the Constitution, in part because they viewed the vice president's legislative role as a violation of the separation of powers doctrine. Elbridge Gerry, who would later serve as vice president, declared that the framers "might as well put the President himself as head of the legislature." Others thought the office unnecessary but agreed with Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman that "if the vice-President were not to be President of the Senate, he would be without employment, and some member [of the Senate, acting as presiding officer] must be deprived of his vote."
Under the original code of Senate rules, the presiding officer exercised great power over the conduct of the body's proceedings. Rule XVI provided that "every question of order shall be decided by the President [of the Senate], without debate; but if there be a doubt in his mind, he may call for a sense of the Senate." Thus, contrary to later practice, the presiding officer was the sole judge of proper procedure and his rulings could not be turned aside by the full Senate without his assent.
The first two vice presidents, Adams and Jefferson, did much to shape the nature of the office, setting precedents that were followed by others. During most of the nineteenth century, the degree of influence and the role played within the Senate depended chiefly on the personality and inclinations of the individual involved. Some had great parliamentary skill and presided well, while others found the task boring, were incapable of maintaining order, or chose to spend most of their time away from Washington, leaving the duty to a president pro tempore. Some made an effort to preside fairly, while others used their position to promote the political agenda of the administration.
During the twentieth century, the role of the vice president has evolved into more of an executive branch position. Now, the vice president is usually seen as an integral part of a president's administration and presides over the Senate only on ceremonial occasions or when a tie-breaking vote may be needed. Yet, even though the nature of the job has changed, it is still greatly affected by the personality and skills of the individual incumbent.
Most of our former vice presidents have brought to that office significant public service experience. Thirty-one of the forty-four served in Congress, and fifteen had been state or territorial governors. Five — Schuyler Colfax, Charles Curtis, John Garner, Alben Barkley, and Lyndon Johnson — gave up powerful congressional leadership posts to run for that much-derided office. Another, House Minority Leader Gerald Ford, observed that he had been trying for twenty-five years to become Speaker of the House. "Suddenly, I am a candidate for the President of the Senate, where I can hardly ever vote, and where I will never get a chance to speak."
Nineteen former vice presidents came to their role as president of the Senate already familiar with the body, having served as U.S. senators. Several vice presidents later returned to serve again in the Senate, among them former President Andrew Johnson. Nine vice presidents won renomination and election to a second term. Two of these, George Clinton and John C. Calhoun, held the office under two different presidents.
Of the fourteen vice presidents who fulfilled their ambition by achieving the presidency, eight succeeded to the office on the death of a president. Three of these and six other former vice presidents were later elected president. Four former vice presidents ran unsuccessfully for president. Two unlucky vice presidents, Hannibal Hamlin and Henry Wallace, were dropped from the ticket after their first term, only to see their successors become president months after taking office, when the assassination of Abraham Lincoln made Andrew Johnson president and the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt raised Harry Truman to the presidency. Similarly, when Spiro Agnew resigned, he was replaced under the Twenty-fifth Amendment by Gerald R. Ford, who became president when Richard M. Nixon resigned less than a year later.
The vice-presidency was generally held by men of mature years — thirty-two of them were in their fifties or sixties when they took office — but ten were in their forties, and the youngest, John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, was thirty-six at the beginning of his term. At seventy-two, Alben Barkley, another Kentuckian, was the oldest when his term began.
The Earliest Vice Presidents: Adams and Jefferson
The nation's first vice presidents were men of extraordinary ability. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson gained the office as runners-up in presidential contests, with the support of those who believed they were amply qualified to hold the top office. Each recognized, in assuming this new and as yet loosely defined position, that his actions would set precedents for future vice presidents. But one precedent established by Adams and Jefferson would not be repeated for over three decades; although both men won election as president immediately following their terms as vice president, no sitting vice president would repeat this pattern until 1836, when Martin Van Buren succeeded Andrew Jackson. (The gap thereafter was even longer. More than 150 years elapsed before George Bush won the presidency in 1988 at the conclusion of his eight years as Ronald Reagan's vice president.)
During his two vice-presidential terms, Adams maintained a cordial, but distant, relationship with the president, who sought his advice only occasionally. In the Senate, Adams played a more active role, particularly during his first term. On at least one occasion, he persuaded senators to vote against legislation he opposed, and he frequently lectured the body on procedural and policy matters. He supported Washington's policies by casting the twenty-nine tie-breaking votes that no successor has equalled.
Thomas Jefferson, learning in 1797 that he had been elected vice president, and always happy to return to his beloved Monticello, expressed his pleasure. "A more tranquil and unoffending station could not have been found for me. It will give me philosophical evenings in the winter [while at the Senate] and rural days in the summer [at Monticello]." Unlike Adams, who shared the political beliefs of the president with whom he served, Jefferson and his president belonged to different political parties. Although two later vice presidents, George Clinton and John C. Calhoun, joined with anti-administration forces in their efforts to prevent the reelection of the presidents with whom they served, Jefferson's situation would prove to be unique in all the nation's history. No one expected Jefferson to be President Adams' principal assistant. Instead he devoted his four-year term to preparing himself for the next presidential election and to drafting a guidebook on legislative procedure. Jefferson hoped that his Manual of Parliamentary Practice would allow him and his successors to preside over the Senate with fairness, intelligence, and consistency. That classic guide has retained its usefulness to both the Senate and the House of Representatives through the intervening two centuries.
Nineteenth-Century Vice Presidents
Adoption of the Twelfth Amendment, together with the strategy employed by the Republicans in their successful effort to capture the presidency in 1800 - and to retain it for the next quarter century — proved to have a serious impact on the overall quality of individuals drawn to the vice-presidency.
Aaron Burr, whose refusal to defer to Jefferson had precipitated the electoral crisis of 1800, became one of the most maligned and mistrusted figures of his era and, without question, the most controversial vice president of the early republic. He was also a man of extraordinary ability, and a key player in New York politics — a consideration of overriding importance for Republicans, given the fact that New York's electoral votes accounted for over 15 percent of the total needed to achieve an electoral majority. Burr was the first of a series of vice presidents who hailed from the northern states, chosen more for their ability to bring geographical balance to presidential tickets headed by Virginia Republicans than for their capacity to serve as president. During the quarter century that the "Virginia dynasty" presidents (Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe) held sway, the vice-presidency was the province of men widely regarded as party hacks or men in the twilight of illustrious careers. Much of the scholarship on the vice-presidency makes but passing mention of these individuals, or focuses on their obvious shortcomings. But these vice presidents (Burr, George Clinton, Elbridge Gerry, and Daniel D. Tompkins) — all of them New Yorkers, with the single exception of Elbridge Gerry, a Massachusetts man — helped cement the "Virginia-New York" alliance that enabled the Republicans to control the presidency for six consecutive terms. Their ties to local and state party organizations, which they maintained during their vice-presidential terms, helped ensure the continued allegiance of northern Republicans. For the most part, these vice presidents presided over the Senate with an easy or indifferent hand, while a series of presidents pro tempore attended to administrative matters at the beginning and end of each legislative session.
John C. Calhoun's vice-presidency stands in vivid contrast to the experience of his immediate predecessors. He accepted the second office, under John Quincy Adams, after his 1824 presidential bid failed, offering himself as Andrew Jackson's running mate four years later in hopes of eventually succeeding Jackson. A man of formidable intellect and energy, Calhoun approached his legislative duties with a gravity, dedication, and concern for maintaining order not seen since the time of Adams and Jefferson. A scrupulous guardian of the Senate's written rules, he disdained its unwritten customs and practices. After a quarter century of ineffective or incapacitated vice presidents, the Senate chafed under Calhoun's tutelage and began a lengthy examination of the role of its presiding officer. Calhoun's endorsement of nullification effectively killed his chances of becoming president. In 1836, his successor and rival, Martin Van Buren, became the first vice president since Jefferson to win the presidency.
Richard Mentor Johnson, Martin Van Buren's vice president, came to the office along a unique path not yet followed by any subsequent vice president. The Twelfth Amendment provides that if no vice-presidential candidate receives a majority, the Senate shall decide between the two highest vote getters. A controversial figure who had openly acknowledged his slave mistress and mulatto daughters and devoted himself more to the customers of his tavern than to his Senate duties, Johnson received one electoral vote less than the majority needed to elect. The Senate therefore met on February 8, 1837, and elected Johnson by a vote of 33 to 16 over the runner-up.
Johnson's successor, John Tyler, wrote an important chapter in American presidential and vice-presidential history in 1841 when William Henry Harrison became the first president to die in office. Interpreting the Constitution in a way that might have surprised its framers, Vice President Tyler refused to consider himself as acting president. What "devolved" on him at Harrison's death were not the "powers and duties" of the presidential office, he contended, but the office itself. Tyler boldly claimed the presidency, its full $25,000 salary (vice presidents were paid 20 percent of that amount — $5,000), and all its prerogatives. Congressional leaders and members of Harrison's cabinet who were inclined to challenge Tyler eventually set aside their concerns in the face of the accomplished fact. Nine years later, when Vice President Millard Fillmore succeeded to the presidency after Zachary Taylor's death, no serious question was raised about the propriety of such a move.
During the nineteenth century, the vice-presidency remained essentially a legislative position. Those who held it rarely attended cabinet meetings or otherwise involved themselves in executive branch business. Their usefulness to the president generally ended with the election. While those who had served in Congress might offer helpful political information and connections to a presidential candidate, or might attract electoral votes in marginal states, their status and value evaporated after inauguration day. In fact, as political circumstances altered during their first term, some presidents began considering a new running mate for the reelection campaign. Abraham Lincoln, for example, had no need of Vice President Hannibal Hamlin of Maine for a second term, since his state was certain to vote to reelect Lincoln in 1864. Success being less assured in the border state of Tennessee, party leaders chose Senator Andrew Johnson to replace Hamlin in the second position.
Relegated to presiding over the Senate, a few nineteenth-century vice presidents took that task seriously. Men such as George Dallas, Levi Morton, and Garret Hobart studied the Senate's rules and precedents and presided most effectively. Others, such as Henry Wilson - Grant's second vice president - spent their time as they pleased. As vice president, Wilson wrote a three-volume history of slavery before dying in his Capitol office.
The vice-presidency in the nineteenth century seldom led to the White House, because vice presidents of the era were rarely men of presidential stature. Of the twenty-one individuals who held that office from 1805 to 1899, only Martin Van Buren managed to be elected president. Four others achieved the presidency only because the incumbent died, and none of those four accidental presidents subsequently won election in his own right.
Twentieth-Century Vice Presidents
The twentieth century opened without a vice president. Vice President Garret Augustus Hobart had died in November 1899, leaving the office vacant, as it had been on ten previous occasions for periods ranging from a few months to nearly four years. The nation had gotten along just fine. No one much noticed.
People noticed the next vice president. Cowboy, scholar, naturalist, impetuous enthusiast for numerous ideas and causes, Theodore Roosevelt owed his nomination to the desire of New York state political bosses to get him out of the state's politics. The former Rough Rider held presidential ambitions and worried that the job could be "a steppingstone to . . . oblivion." He also felt that he lacked the financial resources needed to entertain on the grand scale expected of his immediate predecessors. Roosevelt argued in vain that the party should find someone else, but Republican leaders wanted him, believing he would bring a new kind of glamour and excitement to President McKinley's candidacy. When his magnetic presence at the national convention fired the enthusiasm of his partisans, the nomination was his. Roosevelt then defied conventional practice by waging an active national campaign for the ticket, publicizing the Republican cause in a way that President McKinley could not. Had not an assassin's bullet in September 1901 propelled Roosevelt to the White House, his impact on the vice-presidency during a four-year term would most likely have been profound. In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt became the first vice president who succeeded to the presidency to be elected president in his own right.
For the next forty years, the role of the office grew slowly but perceptibly. Party leaders rather than presidential candidates continued to make vice-presidential selections to balance the ticket, often choosing someone from a different party faction who was not personally close to the presidential nominee. In fact, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Herbert Hoover protested the individuals selected to be their running mates. The feeling was often mutual. When Charles Curtis gave the customary vice-presidential inaugural address in the Senate chamber, he omitted any reference to his running mate, President Hoover. A few minutes later, Hoover returned the favor by neglecting to mention Curtis in his official remarks on the Capitol's east portico.
The principal twentieth-century growth in the vice president's role occurred when the national government assumed a greater presence in American life, beginning with the New Deal era and extending through the cold war years. That era brought to the vice-presidency such major political leaders as House Speaker John "Cactus Jack" Garner and Senate Majority Leaders Alben Barkley and Lyndon Johnson. This distinguished cast of elected vice presidents also included Senators Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and Al Gore (who is serving as vice president at this writing and is therefore not included in this book). The group also includes George Bush, whose previous experience ranged from the House of Representatives to the Central Intelligence Agency. With the exception of Garner and possibly Truman, these men were selected not by party wheelhorses but by the presidential candidates themselves. Competence and compatibility became the most sought-after qualities in a running mate. These characteristics were especially evident in the Truman-Barkley and Clinton-Gore tickets, both of which set aside the traditional selection considerations of geographical and ideological balance.
During the twentieth century, the focus of the vice-presidency has shifted dramatically from being mainly a legislative position to a predominately executive post. As modern-era presidents began playing an increasing role as legislative agenda setters, their vice presidents regularly attended cabinet meetings and received executive assignments. Vice presidents represented their presidents' administrations on Capitol Hill, served on the National Security Council, chaired special commissions, acted as high level representatives of the government to foreign heads of state, and assumed countless other chores — great and trivial — at the president's direction. Beginning with Richard Nixon, they have occupied spacious quarters in the Executive Office Building and assembled staffs of specialists to extend their reach and influence. From fewer than 20 staff members at the end of Nixon's vice-presidency, the number increased to 60 during the 1970s, with the addition of not only political and support staff but advisers on domestic policy and national security. Walter Mondale expanded the vice president's role as presidential adviser, establishing the tradition of weekly lunches with the president, and subsequent vice presidents have continued to be active participants in their administrations.
Expansion of the office did not come without a cost, however. In assuming substantive policy responsibilities, vice presidents often ran afoul of cabinet secretaries whose territories they invaded. As administration lobbyists, they also irritated members of Congress. My favorite example of this problem occurred in 1969. President Nixon had pledged to give his vice president a significant policy-making role and - for the first time - an office in the White House itself. Spiro Agnew was determined to make the most of that role and to expand his legislative functions as well. Since he lacked previous legislative experience, he had the Senate parliamentarian tutor him on the intricacies of Senate floor procedure. Soon he began to inject himself into the course of Senate proceedings, contrary to the well-worn practice that constrained his predecessors. During the debate over the Anti-Ballistic-Missile Treaty, Agnew approached Idaho Republican Senator Len Jordan and asked how he was going to vote. "You can't tell me how to vote!" said the shocked senator. "You can't twist my arm!" At the next regular luncheon of Republican senators, Jordan accused Agnew of breaking the separation of powers by lobbying on the Senate floor, and announced the "Jordan Rule." Under his rule, if the vice president tried to lobby him on anything, the senator would automatically vote the other way. Agnew concluded from this experience, "after trying for a while to get along with the Senate, I decided I would go down to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue and try playing the executive game."
In 1886 the Senate initiated the practice of honoring former vice presidents by acquiring marble busts of those who had held the office, with the expenses paid from the contingent fund of the Senate. The previous year, in 1885, the Senate had placed in the Vice President's Room a bust of Henry Wilson, who had died in that room a decade earlier. Under the 1886 resolution, busts of former vice presidents, beginning with those of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, were placed in the niches around the gallery level of the Senate chamber. Once those twenty spaces were filled, the Senate adopted an amended resolution in 1898 to place future vice-presidential busts elsewhere in the Senate wing of the Capitol. The practice continues today.
John Adams (Presidency of George Washington)
Thomas Jefferson (Presidency of John Adams)
Note: Jefferson ran against Adams for president. Since he received the second highest electoral vote, he automatically became vice president under the system that existed at the time. "Republican" refers to two different parties widely separated in time: Jeffersonian Republicans of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and the present Republican party, which was founded in the 1850s. The service dates should make clear which of the two parties is intended.
Aaron Burr (Presidency of Thomas Jefferson)
Note: In the nation's early years, electors did not differentiate between their votes for president and vice president, and the runner-up for president became vice president. In 1800 Jefferson and Burr each received 73 electoral votes, thus sending the election to the House of Representatives, which selected Jefferson as president. Burr automatically became vice president. This stalemate led to adoption of the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution in 1804.
George Clinton (Presidency of Thomas Jefferson)
George Clinton (Presidency of James Madison)
Term: 1809-1812; died in office April 12, 1812
Elbridge Gerry (Presidency of James Madison)
Term: 1813-1814; died in office November 23, 1814
Daniel D. Tompkins (Presidency of James Monroe)
Note: By 1820 the Federalist party was defunct, and a period of party realignment began that continued until 1840 when the Whig and Democratic parties became established. In the interim, party affiliations underwent considerable flux. For much of that time, the split fell between the supporters and opponents of Andrew Jackson. The pro-Jackson forces evolved into the Democratic party, while those opposing Jackson eventually coalesced into the Whig party.
John C. Calhoun (Presidency of John Quincy Adams)
Party: National Republican
Note: All the presidential candidates in 1824 were Republicans - although of varying persuasions - and Calhoun had support for the vice-presidency from both the Adams and Jackson camps. As no presidential candidate received the necessary majority of electoral votes, the House of Representatives made the decision. Calhoun, however, received a clear majority (182 of 260) of the vice-presidential electoral votes.
John C. Calhoun (Presidency of Andrew Jackson)
Term: 1829-1832; resigned December 28, 1832
Martin Van Buren (Presidency of Andrew Jackson)
Note: The Democratic party was not yet formally created during Jackson's two terms as president but developed later from his supporters.
Richard Mentor Johnson (Presidency of Martin Van Buren)
Note: Since no vice presidential candidate received a majority of the electoral vote in the 1836 election, the U.S. Senate elected Richard M. Johnson as vice president on February 8, 1837. Johnson's election is the only time the Senate has exercised this constitutional authority, granted by the Twelfth Amendment, which provides, "if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President."
John Tyler (Presidency of William H. Harrison)
Term: 1841; succeeded to presidency on April 6, 1841
Note: Although Tyler ran on the Whig ticket, he remained a Democrat throughout his life.
George Mifflin Dallas (Presidency of James K. Polk)
Millard Fillmore (Presidency of Zachary Taylor)
Term: 1849-1850; succeeded to presidency on July 10, 1850
Note: When Fillmore succeeded to the presidency in 1850, the vice presidency remained vacant until 1853.
William Rufus King (Presidency of Franklin Pierce)
Term: 1853; died in office April 18, 1853
John C. Breckinridge (Presidency of James Buchanan)
Hannibal Hamlin (Presidency of Abraham Lincoln)
Andrew Johnson (Presidency of Abraham Lincoln)
Term: 1865; succeeded to presidency on April 15, 1865
Note: Johnson was a War Democrat, who ran on a fusion ticket with Republican President Abraham Lincoln. When Andrew Johnson succeeded to the presidency in 1865, the vice presidency remained vacant until 1869.
Schuyler Colfax (Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant)
Henry Wilson (Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant)
Term: 1873-1875; died in office on November 22, 1875
William A. Wheeler (Presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes)
Chester A. Arthur (Presidency of James A. Garfield)
Term: 1881; succeeded to presidency on September 20, 1881
Note: When Arthur succeeded to the presidency in 1881, the vice presidency remained vacant until 1885.
Thomas A. Hendricks (Presidency of Grover Cleveland – first)
Term: 1885; died in office on November 25, 1885
Levi P. Morton (Presidency of Benjamin Harrison)
Adlai E. Stevenson (Presidency of Grover Cleveland -- second)
Garret A. Hobart (Presidency of William McKinley)
Term: 1897-1899; died in office on November 21, 1899
Theodore Roosevelt (Presidency of William McKinley)
Term: 1901; succeeded to presidency on September 14, 1901
Charles W. Fairbanks (Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt)
James S. Sherman (Presidency of William H. Taft)
Term: 1909-1912; died in office on October 30, 1912
Thomas R. Marshall (Presidency of Woodrow Wilson)
Calvin Coolidge (Presidency of Warren G. Harding)
Term: 1921-1923; succeeded to presidency on August 3, 1923
Charles G. Dawes (Presidency of Calvin Coolidge)
Charles Curtis (Presidency of Herbert C. Hoover)
John Nance Garner (Presidency of Franklin Roosevelt)
Henry A. Wallace (Presidency of Franklin Roosevelt)
Harry S. Truman (Presidency of Franklin Roosevelt)
Term: 1945; succeeded to presidency on April 12, 1945
Note: When Truman succeeded to the presidency in 1945, the vice presidency remained vacant until 1949.
Alben W. Barkley (Presidency of Harry Truman)
Richard M. Nixon (Presidency of Dwight Eisenhower)
Lyndon B. Johnson (Presidency of John Kennedy)
Term: 1961-1963; succeeded to presidency on November 22, 1963
Note: When Johnson succeeded to the presidency in 1963, the vice presidency remained vacant until 1965.
Hubert H. Humphrey (Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson)
Spiro T. Agnew (Presidency of Richard Nixon)
Term: 1969-1973; resigned on October 10, 1973
Gerald R. Ford (Presidency of Richard Nixon)
Term: 1973-1974; succeeded to presidency on August 9, 1974
Note: Lyndon Johnson's succession to the presidency in 1963 following the assassination of John F. Kennedy left the vice presidency vacant for the sixteenth time in U.S. history. To avoid such a vacancy in the future, Congress passed and the states ratified the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1967, allowing for the appointment and confirmation of a new vice president if such a vacancy occurs. Gerald Ford became the first Vice President to be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Congress pursuant to the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Ford took the oath of office on December 6, 1973.
Nelson A. Rockefeller (Presidency of Gerald Ford)
Note: Following succession to the presidency after the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974, Gerald Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller as vice president, as prescribed by the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Rockefeller took the oath of office in the Senate chamber on December 19, 1974. Television cameras that had been recently installed in the Senate chamber in anticipation of a possible impeachment trial of Richard Nixon were instead used to televise the swearing in of Vice President Rockefeller. This marked the first time television cameras had been allowed in the Senate chamber.
Walter F. Mondale (Presidency of Jimmy Carter)
George H.W. Bush (Presidency of Ronald Reagan)
J. Danforth Quayle (Presidency of George H.W. Bush)
Albert A. Gore, Jr. (Presidency of William Clinton)
Richard B. Cheney (Presidency of George W. Bush)
Joseph R. Biden (Presidency of Barack Obama)
Term: 2009 –