Vice Presidents That Became Presidents
Since George Washington first became president in 1789, we have had 44 different presidents, 14 of which were Vice Presidents. Five of these were elected president later on. There have been eight vice presidents who took over when the former president died and one due to the president’s resignation.
John Adams served as the 1st Vice President of the United States from April of 1789-March of 1797 under George Washington. At the time, the presidential candidate with the second highest number of votes became the Vice President. From there, Adams succeeded Washington and became the 2nd President of the United States. He served for one term, from March of 1797-1801.
Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican, received the second highest number of votes when he ran against his Federalist opponent Adams in 1797, thus becoming the 2nd Vice President of the United States. In 1801, he ran once again, this time up against Aaron Burr. Jefferson very narrowly beat him and became the 3rd President of the United States. When he ran for a second term in 1804, he ran against Charles C. Pinckney. This was also when the rule that the candidate with the second highest number of votes became vice president changed and Jefferson was able to choose his own vice president.
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was first President Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of State before becoming his vice President when he ran for a second term in 1833 and Van Buren became the 8th Vice President of the United States. He then ran for president in 1836 as a Democrat up against William Henry Harrison and Hugh L. White. Van Buren served for one term and was succeeded by Harrison in 1841.
John Tyler, a Whig, served very briefly as the 10th Vice President of the United States under William Henry Harrison. However, Harrison died about thirty days after entering office and Tyler succeeded him as 10th Vice President of the United States. He served until the end of Harrison’s term in 1845, not even running for a second term. Tyler was the first vice president to become president without being elected to the office and also served as president longer than any other president to not be elected to office.
Millard Fillmore was elected to be Zachary Taylor’s vice president in 1848 as the 12th Vice President of the United States. When Taylor died on July 9, 1850, Fillmore succeeded him as the 13th President. He finished out Taylor’s term in 1853 and Franklin Pierce succeeded him. Though he tried to run again, Winfield Scott was chosen as his party’s candidate. Fillmore was also the final member of the Whig party to serve as president.
Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, was the vice president of one of the most notable presidents in U.S. history, Abraham Lincoln, who was also a Republican. He served as Lincoln’s VP during his second term, as Hannibal Hamlin had in Lincoln’s first. On April 15, Lincoln was assassinated barely a month after being reelected and Johnson became the 17th President of the United States. Johnson himself is well known for being impeached for violating the Tenure of Office Act. He was unsuccessful in running again in 1868, and left office the following year.
Chester A. Arthur
Chester A. Arthur served as 20th Vice President in 1881 under President James A. Garfield. Garfield was soon, however, assassinated on September 19, 1881 and Arthur became the 21st President of the United States. He finished out Garfield’s term until 1885 after failing to secure the nomination from the Republican Party, mainly due to his limited campaigning efforts because of his poor health.
Theodore Roosevelt Jr., a Republican leader, was the 25th Vice President under William McKinley, who was assassinated six months after he came into office. Roosevelt finished out McKinley’s term in 1905 and was then reelected, serving until 1909. At 42, Roosevelt is, to this day, still the youngest president ever. Though he had originally been on his successor William Howard Taft’s side, Roosevelt became increasingly annoyed by him, and tried to run against him in 1912, but was unsuccessful.
Calvin Coolidge, Republican, was the 29th Vice President, serving under Warren G. Harding. When Harding died of a heart attack in August of 1923, Coolidge became the 30th President. He was reelected in 1924 and became known as ‘Silent Cal” for his quiet demeanor.
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third Vice President as he came to serve when Roosevelt was reelected to his fourth term in 1944. When he died of poor health in 1945 only a few weeks after he began his fourth term, Truman succeeded him as the 33rd President. Truman then ran again when he finished off the term for the Democratic party. He famously ended World War II when he used nuclear weapons on Japan.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson was the 37th Vice President under President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was assassinated two years into his term in 1963 and was succeeded by the 36th President, Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson finished the term in 1965 and was then reelected by a landslide against Republican Senator Barry Goldwater. He is among the favorite presidents of many historians for his notable achievements during his term such as passing many civil rights and gun control laws and more.
Richard Nixon is the only president to have served as a vice president not back to back. He was first the 36th Vice President under President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953-1961. He ran for president in 1960, but just narrowly lost to John F. Kennedy. Once again, he ran in 1968, but this time he won. His first vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in 1973 and Gerald Ford took over, who would soon become president when Nixon resigned over the infamous Watergate scandal.
Gerald R. Ford
Like said above, Gerald Ford, the 40th Vice President, became the 38th President in August of 1974 when Nixon resigned. He ran for reelection in 1976 and won the Republican primary, but lost to Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter. Ford is the first person to serve as both Vice and President of the U.S. without being elected into office, since he was appointed after Nixon’s first VP resigned.
George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush was the 43rd Vice President under Ronald Reagan from 1981-1989. When Reagan’s term came to an end, Bush ran for president and won against Democrat Michael Dukakis. He ran again in 1992, but lost to Bill Clinton. His son, George W. Bush, succeeded Clinton as president. George H. W. Bush is the most recent Vice President to become President.