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Author Topic: No Vice President (1850-1857)  (Read 878 times)
Pope Kalwejt I of Northeast
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« on: August 17, 2012, 01:54:30 pm »
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In 1852, the Democrats nominated Franklin Pierce for President. For his running mate they choose 66-year old William R. King, who was not only a longtime Alabama Senator, but also literally a dying man. Pierce/King won the election.

King was not inaugurated along with Pierce on March 4, 1853 as, due to health issues, he was staying at friend's plantation in Havana, Cuba. He did not take oath of office until March 24 and is the only Vice President inaugurated on foreign soil, which was possible by the special act of Congress, as it was understood he was already gravely ill. Indeed, King returned to his plantation shortly after being sworn-in and died within two days (April 18).

In result, except for six weeks, Vice Presidency was vacated until John Breckinridge was sworn-in as James Buchanan's VP in 1857. And, since King was absent not only from Washington, but the country during almost all his "tenure" and never performed any duty as VP, there was no Vice President from 1850 (Fillmore succession) to 1857 (Breckinridge inauguration).

We can see how unimportant the Vice Presidency was perceived at that time, since not only they nominated a dying man, but for about six years the office was basically vacant.
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2012, 02:11:51 pm »
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Well there was no device to fill a vacancy, so not much they could do about that.
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Pope Kalwejt I of Northeast
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2012, 02:38:46 pm »
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Meh, the vice-presidency wasn't really important till the 1950's. Just a glorified waiting list.

Not unless the President dies. Until Nixon, the Vice Presidency was not exactly a stepping stone.

Interesting that Ike actually offered Nixon a major cabinet appointment instead of running together again in 1956. He told him (as Nixon's ambitions, despite very cautious behavior as VP, were no secret) that no sitting VP was elected President since Van Buren, so he may consider becoming a cabinet member in between to improve his chances.

Indeed, a major cabinet post seemed as a natural steeping stone during those days. Hoover was Secretary of Commerce when he succeeded Coolidge. Taft was Secretary of War when he succeeded Roosevelt. John Quincy Adams, James Monroe and James Madison were all Secretaries of State before being elected, and James Buchanan was a former one.

Now, let's take a look on sitting Vice Presidents. Only Thomas Jefferson and Martin Van Bur en were elected and the last incumbent VP to run in general election was John C. Breckinridge in 1860, and he did not even represent his party, only Southern wing.

William Wheeler and Charles Fairbanks did not even consider running to replace their retiring Presidents. Adlai Stevenson considered running to replace Cleveland, but received little support and backed down before it even started. Oh yes, there was also Alben Barkley, but his run to replace Truman never gained traction.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 07:44:07 pm by True Federalist »Logged

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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2012, 04:29:49 am »
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In 1852, the Democrats nominated Franklin Pierce for President. For his running mate they choose 66-year old William R. King, who was not only a longtime Alabama Senator, but also literally a dying man. Pierce/King won the election.

King was not inaugurated along with Pierce on March 4, 1853 as, due to health issues, he was staying at friend's plantation in Havana, Cuba. He did not take oath of office until March 24 and is the only Vice President inaugurated on foreign soil, which was possible by the special act of Congress, as it was understood he was already gravely ill. Indeed, King returned to his plantation shortly after being sworn-in and died within two days (April 18).

In result, except for six weeks, Vice Presidency was vacated until John Breckinridge was sworn-in as James Buchanan's VP in 1857. And, since King was absent not only from Washington, but the country during almost all his "tenure" and never performed any duty as VP, there was no Vice President from 1850 (Fillmore succession) to 1857 (Breckinridge inauguration).

We can see how unimportant the Vice Presidency was perceived at that time, since not only they nominated a dying man, but for about six years the office was basically vacant.

The situation recurred a generation later, when the VPcy was vacant from the death of Garfield in 1881 until Levi P Morton became VP in 1889, save for an 8-month break in 1885 when Thomas A Hendricks was VP.
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Pope Kalwejt I of Northeast
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2012, 07:51:18 am »
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Quote
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 07:44:07 pm by True Federalist »

OK, what was that for?
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2012, 05:16:13 pm »

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« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 07:44:07 pm by True Federalist »

OK, what was that for?

I changed the sock's name in the quote.
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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2012, 07:27:22 am »
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Well, John Garner, FDR's first Vice President, once said the office was "not worth a bucket of warm piss."
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2012, 03:39:24 pm »
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Well, what did the Vicepresidents do all day back then? There must have been some official duty besides presiding over the senate..
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Pope Kalwejt I of Northeast
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2012, 04:11:45 pm »
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Well, what did the Vicepresidents do all day back then? There must have been some official duty besides presiding over the senate..

Beside presiding over a joint session of Congress to certify electoral vote, the Vice President have no official duties, beside, of course, having a pulse.

Until Nixon, Vice Presidents did frequently preside over the Senate, but without being allowed to actually participate in the debate and legislative process, it was just a formality.
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Pope Kalwejt I of Northeast
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2012, 04:20:54 pm »
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Here are examples of actually influential Vice Presidents before Nixon:

Martin Van Buren (1833-1837) was already a close Jackson's associate and continued to sit in his "kitchen cabinet" as VP. Additionally, he was the main force behind newly-formed Democratic Party machine.

Garret A. Hobart (1897-1899) already befriended with McKinley during the campaign and became one of his closest and most powerful advisors, being entrusted with various unofficial political tasks. He was even called "Assistant President". He also played more important role in the Senate business than most of his predecessors.

Charles G. Dawes (1925-1929) was initially trusted by Coolidge and even invited to take full role in Cabinet meetings, which he declined. However, he very quickly started to publicly and bitterly feud with Coolidge. Nevertheless, he used his position as Senate President to help pass the McNary–Haugen Farm Relief Bill, which Coolidge vetoed.

Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945) who was an important part of FDR's New Deal team as Secretary of Agriculture and enjoyed the President's personal friendship. During War, he was given major responsibilities, including heading the Board of Economic Warfare, as well as performing various diplomatic missions. In midterm, he was stripped of his powers due to concerns over his leftist leanings.

Alben W. Barkley (1945-1949) served as Truman's important advisor, especially in congressional matters and was invited to Cabinet and NSA meetings.
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