Vice Presidents Who Became Presidents

October 7, 2008

There is some concern out there about the possibility that Sarah Palin may become the next President due to unfortunate circumstances. So how often has that happened?

There have actually been 14 Vice Presidents who became President. In five cases, the Vice President was elected after the President’s term ended. (Interestingly, prior to 1988 when George H.W. Bush was elected, the last time this occured was in 1836.) In four cases, the President was assassinated, in another four cases, the President died of natural causes, and in one case the President resigned.

In addition, there had been some discussion about the possibility of Sarah Palin resigning from the Republican ticket for President. That has only happened once in modern times. The one case of a Vice Presidential candidate dropping out of the race was in 1972, when Thomas Eagleton withdrew as the Democratic nominee with George McGovern, replaced by Sargent Shriver. Eagleton’s resignation from the ticket was related to questions about his mental health. Of course, McGovern lost the election to Richard Nixon.

For interesting lists about Presidents and the U.S. Government, visit the iWeblists US Government pages.

# Vice Pres. Method of Succession Prior President Year
1 John Adams Elected George Washington 1789
2 Thomas Jefferson Elected John Adams 1797
3 Martin Van Buren Elected Andrew Jackson 1836
4 John Tyler Death William Henry Harrison 1841
5 Millard Fillmore Death Zachary Taylor 1850
6 Andrew Johnson Assassination Abraham Lincoln 1865
7 Chester Arthur Assassination James Garfield 1881
8 Theodore Roosevelt Assassination William McKinley 1901
9 Calvin Coolidge Death Warren Harding 1923
10 Harry Truman Death Franklin Roosevelt 1945
11 Lyndon Johnson Assassination John F. Kennedy 1963
12 Richard Nixon Elected Served under Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961) 1968
13 Gerald Ford Resignation Richard Nixon 1974
14 George H.W. Bush Elected Ronald Reagan 1988