On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned from the Presidency, and Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in as President. This was the first time that a Vice President became President because of a resignation. National Veep Day takes place on this anniversary, but instead of celebrating just one Vice President, or the office of Vice President, the day celebrates the succession plan for the President. Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the Constitution details how a Vice President assumes the office of the President. This clause was further clarified by the 25th Amendment, which also detailed the procedures for filling a vacancy in the Vice Presidency. It was these procedures that were used when Ford was nominated by Richard Nixon to become Vice President in 1973, following Spiro Agnew’s resignation to the office because of tax evasion charges.
As the Constitution gives Congress the ability to delineate the line of succession beyond the Vice President, it has passed laws to do so. The Presidential Act of 1792 said that the president pro tempore followed the Vice President, who in turn was followed by the Speaker of the House. In 1886, the president pro tempore and Speaker of the House were dropped from the Presidential line of succession and were supplanted by the Cabinet. Those in favor of this change argued it was good because Congressional leaders didn’t have the executive experience that these officers had. They also argued that because six formers Secretaries of States had subsequently become President, it showed that the elevation to the Presidency was a natural progression for Cabinet members. The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 once again changed the order, making it what is today. The Vice President is followed by the president pro tempore, then by the Speaker of the House, and then by the Cabinet members, in the order of the date that their Cabinet positions were created.
Vice President Facts
- John TylerAfter one month of being sworn in, President William Henry Harrison died in office in 1841. His vice president, John Tyler, ascended to the presidency.
- Millard FillmoreMillard Fillmore filled the vacancy left by the death of President Zachary Taylor in 1850.
- Andrew JohnsonAndrew Johnson was President Abraham Lincoln’s second term vice president. His term began when Lincoln died after John Wilkes Booth’s successful assassination of the president at Ford’s Theater.
- Chester ArthurWhen Charles J. Guiteau assassinated President James Garfield in 1881, Vice President Chester Arthur completed his term.
- Theodore RooseveltPresident William McKinley’s first vice president died of a heart attack. During McKinley’s second term, Theodore Roosevelt served as his Veep. Then McKinley was assassinated six months into the term. Roosevelt became the third vice president to step up under these circumstances.
- Calvin CoolidgeAfter the death of President Warren G. Harding in 1923, Vice President Calvin Coolidge ascended to the presidency. He also ran and won a second term.
- Harry S. TrumanPresident Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only president to run for and win three terms. He also had three different vice presidents. His third Veep, Harry S. Truman, ascended to the presidency when FDR died in 1945 after just three months in office.
- Lyndon B. JohnsonThe fourth president to be assassinated in the United States was John F. Kennedy. Lyndon B. Johnson served as his vice president. An interesting note: Richard Nixon, whom this day is partially inspired by, ran unsuccessfully against JFK. Before running for president, Nixon served two terms as veep for President Dwight Eisenhower. After his losing presidential runs, Nixon would run again and win two consecutive terms.
- Gerald FordNixon’s first vice president was Spiro Agnew. However, Agnew resigned in 1973. Gerald Ford obtained the position of vice president by appointment. When Nixon later resigned in 1974, Ford ascended to the presidency. He’s the only president to service who was neither elected to the position of veep or president.
National Veep Day History
On August 9, 1974, Vice President Gerald Ford became President of the United States upon the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
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