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Vice President of the United States of America

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The Vice President of the United States of America becomes the President upon the death, resignation, or removal by impeachment of the former President. Should the Vice President be unable to assume the Presidency, next in line is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, followed by the President pro tempore of the United States Senate. (If none of these individuals is able to become President, succession proceeds through the Cabinet. See: Presidential line of succession)

The Vice President must have the same constitutional qualifications as the President and cannot come from the same state. (In fact, this second requirement is not a constitutional requirement. What the Constitution provides is that if the candidates for President and Vice President come from the same state, the electors from that state could not vote for both. This might result in the Vice Presidential candidate receiving insufficiently many electoral votes for election even if the Presidential candidate is elected.) In practice the second requirement is easily circumvented by having the Vice President change the state of residency as was done by Dick Cheney who changed his legal residency from Texas to Wyoming in order to serve as Vice President for George W. Bush.

The Vice President serves as the President of the Senate (Article I, Section 3). This job basically amounts to taking care of procedural matters, and the ability to cast a vote in the event of a tie. There is a strong convention within the United States Senate, that the Vice President not use his position as President of the Senate to influence the passage of legislation or act in a partisan manner, except in the case of breaking tie votes.

Since the adoption of the 25th Amendment in 1967, "Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress." (Prior to that time, if the Vice President died in office, resign, or succeeded to the Presidency, the office of Vice President remained vacant until the next Presidential election.)

Gerald Ford was the first Vice President selected by this method, after the resignation of Spiro Agnew; after succeeding to the Presidency, Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President.

The 25th Amendment also provides means for the Vice President to temporarily become Acting President upon the temporary disability of the President. This procedure has been activated twice: once on July 13, 1985, when Ronald Reagan underwent surgery to remove cancerous polyps from his colon, and then on June 29, 2002, when President George W. Bush underwent a colonoscopy[?] requiring sedation.

Prior to this amendment, Vice President Richard Nixon replaced President Eisenhower on an informal basis three times for a period of weeks each time when Eisenhower was ill.

Normally candidates for President will name a candidate for Vice President when they are assured of the party's nomination. Since the Presidential candidate is now generally known before the party convention, this announcement is now typically made in the first day or so of the party convention. Generally the choice of running mate is made by the Presidential candidate alone and often is done to create balance on a ticket. It is common for the Vice Presidential candidate will come from a different region than the President or appeal to a different part of the party.

The formal powers and role of the Vice President with a healthy, functioning President are limited to the Presidency of the Senate, including a casting vote in the event of a deadlock. This was important in 2001, as the Senators were divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats and thus Dick Cheney's casting vote gave the Republicans the Senate majority. This ended when Vermont's James Jeffords[?] resigned from the Republican Party and aligned himself to the Democrats (though without actually joining them).

Their other function is as a spokesperson for the administration's policy, and as an adviser to the President. Their influence in this role depends almost entirely on the characteristics of the particular administration. Cheney, for instance, is widely regarded as one of George W. Bush's closest confidantes. Often Vice Presidents will take harder-line stands on issues to ensure the support of the party's base while deflecting partisan criticism away from the President.

Historically, the office of Vice President has been viewed as political suicide. The natural stepping stone to the Presidency was long considered to be the Secretary of State. It has only been fairly recently that this notion has reversed; indeed, the notion was still very much alive when Harry S Truman became the Vice President for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

See United States Constitution. See Acting President[?].

United States Vice Presidents

No. Vice PresidentYears in Office Political PartyNotes
1 John Adams1789-1797 Federalist
2 Thomas Jefferson1797-1801 Democratic-Republican
3 Aaron Burr1801-1805 Democratic-Republican
4 George Clinton1805-1812 Democratic-Republican Died in office.
5 Elbridge Gerry1813-1814 Democratic-Republican Died in office.
6 Daniel D. Tompkins1817-1825 Democratic-Republican
7 John Caldwell Calhoun1825-1832 Democratic-Republican Resigned to take a seat in the Senate, having been chosen to fill a vacancy.
8 Martin Van Buren1833-1837 Democrat
9 Richard Mentor Johnson1837-1841 Democrat
10 John Tyler1841 Whig Tyler succeeded to the Presidency when William Harrison died a month into office.
11 George Mifflin Dallas1845-1849 Democrat
12 Millard Fillmore1849-1850 Whig Fillmore succeeded to the Presidency after Zachary Taylor died in office.
13 William Rufus DeVane King1853 Democrat Died in office.
14 John Cabell Breckinridge1857-1861 Democrat
15 Hannibal Hamlin1861-1865 Republican
16 Andrew Johnson1865 Democrat Johnson succeeded to the Presidency when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
17 Schuyler Colfax1869-1873 Republican
18 Henry C. Wilson1873-1875 Republican Died in office.
19 William Almon Wheeler1877-1881 Republican
20 Chester Alan Arthur1881 Republican Arthur succeeded to the Presidency after James Garfield was assassinated.
21 Thomas Andrews Hendricks1885 Democrat Died in office.
22 Levi Parsons Morton1889-1893 Republican
23 Adlai Ewing Stevenson1893-1897 Democrat
24 Garret Augustus Hobart1897-1899 Republican Died in office.
25 Theodore Roosevelt1901 Republican Roosevelt succeeded to the Presidency after William McKinley was assassinated.
26 Charles Warren Fairbanks1905-1909 Republican
27 James Schoolcraft Sherman1909-1912 Republican Died in office.
28 Thomas Riley Marshall1913-1921 Democrat
29 John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.1921-1923 Republican Coolidge succeeded to the Presidency after Warren G. Harding died in office.
30 Charles Gates Dawes1925-1929 Republican
31 Charles Curtis1929-1933 Republican
32 John Nance Garner1933-1941 Democrat
33 Henry Agard Wallace1941-1945 Democrat
34 Harry S Truman1945 Democrat Truman succeeded to the Presidency after Franklin Roosevelt died in office.
35 Alben William Barkley1949-1953 Democrat
36 Richard Milhous Nixon1953-1961 Republican Actually took over the Presidency three times when Eisenhower was ill.
37 Lyndon Baines Johnson1961-1963 Democrat Johnson succeeded to the Presidency after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
38 Hubert Horatio Humphrey1965-1969 Democrat
39 Spiro Theodore Agnew1969-1973 Republican Resigned while under investigation for accepting bribes in his previous position as governor of Maryland.
40 Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr.1973-1974 Republican Appointed to replace Agnew, Ford succeeded to the Presidency after the resignation of Richard Nixon.
41 Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller1974-1977 Republican
42 Walter Frederick Mondale1977-1981 Democrat
43 George Herbert Walker Bush1981-1989 Republican
44 James Danforth Quayle III1989-1993 Republican
45 Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.1993-2001 Democrat
46 Richard Bruce Cheney2001-present Republican

Note: There was no provision (until 1967) for the appointment of a successor upon death or elevation of the Vice President, so the position remained vacant until the next election and inauguration.

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