There have been 48 vice presidents of the United States since the nation began in 1789. In the beginning the vice president was the person who received the second-most votes for president in the Electoral College.

In the election of 1800, a tie in the college between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr led to the selection in the House of Representatives, in which Jefferson won. That unforeseen and contentious situation soon led to the passage of the 12th Amendment, creating the current arrangement whereby electors cast separate ballots for the vice presidency.

Nine vice presidents have ascended to the presidency through either the death of the president or, in Gerald Ford’s case, resignation. The eight who succeeded due to the president’s death: John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson. Most historians agree that the impeached Andrew Johnson proved to be the worst in history, followed by Spiro Agnew, who resigned as a crook.

In the 2020 election, we have the current GOP vice president (Mike Pence) and a former two-term vice president (Joe Biden) on the ballot. As has become customary in the modern age, the vice president does more than merely preside over the Senate, as was the tradition during most of the nation’s history. Lincoln rarely consulted his vice-president — Hannibal Hamlin of Maine — and almost never invited him to Cabinet meetings. He looked upon Hamlin as more of a member of the legislative branch (presiding over the Senate), than as of the executive branch.

Fifty years ago this month, when asked what major idea of Vice President Nixon’s he had adopted, President Eisenhower said to reporters, “If you give me a week, I might think of one. I don’t remember.” In contrast, Lyndon Johnson, a master legislator, was given broad responsibilities by President Kennedy, including overseeing the NASA program.

Only eight men served two terms as vice president and they served under presidents Monroe, Wilson, Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama ( Biden).

I believe Mike Pence’s management of the coronavirus task force will be viewed by voters as a serious negative to his bid to continue in office. Pence recklessly refuses to wear a mask just like the president, and both fail to socially distance. The horrific death toll speaks for itself. His obsequious catering to President Trump reveals him to be weak. Persistent fawning and sycophantic flattering are hardly admirable traits to be found in a potential leader of the free world.

Of the vice presidents who assumed power at the death of a president, I would rate Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, and Harry Truman, a Democrat, as among the finest presidents. They were exact opposites. Roosevelt came from wealth and Truman was an unsuccessful farmer and failed haberdasher. But both were personally brave: Roosevelt at San Juan Hill and Truman as a gunnery captain in World War I.

A president’s assassination brought Theodore Roosevelt to the White House. Truman became president with the death of Franklin Roosevelt, who had served only three months into his fourth term.

Biden reminds me of Truman. Truman had served in the Senate for 10 years and was highly regarded by men on both sides of the aisle. He had a reputation for being a man of his word, as does Biden. Biden served longer in the Senate than all but 17 others in its entire history. His long service on the judiciary and foreign relations committees make him well-equipped to be president. He is knowledgeable and, unlike the incumbent, is cautious and well-read. He trusts America’s intelligence agencies. He can be counted upon not to have a love affair with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and to restore the close relationship between the U.S. and its NATO allies. Foreign leaders know Biden and know that his word is his bond.

I spend much of my time writing books about Abraham Lincoln. He was called “Honest Abe” because everyone who ever interacted with him knew that his word could be trusted. Even Jefferson Davis, who led the Confederacy, trusted his word. At the height of the Civil War Lincoln spent his considerable energies to reunite the nation. His Second Inaugural Address spoke of “malice towards none - with charity for all …binding up the nation’s wounds.”

Now, more than ever, America needs to elect a president who has similar commitments to union and healing. There should be little doubt as to who will emulate the honorable behavior of Lincoln when in office.

Paul R. Dunn is author of “The Secret War Diaries of Abraham Lincoln – Including His Recurring Dreams.” He can be reached at

(10) comments

Peyton Cook

If anyone would like to know the story of the atom bomb and the decision to employ it read Chris Wallace’s “Countdown 1945”.

Peyton Cook

Biden is no Truman. Truman was left with one the most momentous decisions any President has had to make. Does he authorize the use of the atomic bombs, (he did know that they existed until he became President) or not. It was not easy, but he made the right decision as both American and Japanese lives were saved.

Biden has been a politician for over forty years, and has become wealthy through the endeavors of his son, Hunter. He has been a lackluster candidate and his running mate, Kamala Harris now said that it will be a”Harris Administration”. Biden will only be a figure head.

Mark Hayes

I just read that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez believes that Joe Biden will be an easy push to the far left, I thought he was already there. Personally I believe so slow Joe will succumb to whatever the party and Kamala want.

Mark Hayes

Paul Dunn .. You are living in the past man, you will not be living in the future, that is the problem. Old fools trying to shape a country that they themselves will not have to experience. The future of the Democratic party is in the streets, protesting and rioting, burning looting and shooting, that's your grandchildren and their children's future, being subjected to those like Omar and Ocasio-Cortez. Question, if Joe Biden is the best man for the job, why has he been passed over twice before by the Democrats ?

Kent Misegades

Check out the Laredo Trump Train - 4,000 cars in a parade in support of Trump Pence on the Mexican border. Another formerly blue region turning red. This is what happens when a politicians fulfills his promises as Trump has done.

“Many of us support the same values of being pro-life, supporting the police, gun rights, law and order, legal immigration, tax breaks, strong military, small businesses, voter ID, working class, prosperity for all minorities, small government, free speech, conservativism, the Constitution, capitalism, patriotism and justice for all,” Moreno said. “That's why we want to express love for those things.”

Kent Misegades

Isn’t this article more about the forgone conclusion that Commie-La Harris would become President the day after Joe Hiden would be sworn in as president and then immediately resign and move to a home for forgetful people? Harris was the first candidate in the Democrat primary to throw in the towel - as she’s unpopular. Is that the best the Democrats can do? Reality is, Biden and Harris got the consolation prize - Democrats know they have zero chance of defeating Trump and needed candidates who have no influence and no future. Why are we even bothering with the election? Just name Trump President for the next 12 years.

ken leary

Got to steal "Joe Hiden". Excellent Kent.

ken leary

"Biden reminds me of Truman. Truman had served in the Senate for 10 years and was highly regarded by men on both sides of the aisle. He had a reputation for being a man of his word, as does Biden." This statement is indefensible. Do a search of video of Joe Biden lying. It is incredible that you defend this man as an honest person when the evidence of his lack of honesty and character are so easily researched. It appears that USA's citizens don't mind being lied to as long as it conforms with their ignorance. Obviously critical thinking on the part of the so called democrats is satisfied with Biden's only real qualification, he is not Trump.

Dan Roman

1) Ken apparently believes whatever he sees on the net, no matter the source. The Russians, Chinese, North Koreans and Iranians love guys like this.

2) No, Biden is not Trump, thankfully. Trump lies about everything and what's funny is the asinine comments made about Biden fit Trump so perfectly.

ken leary

Actually Dan, Ken can point you to a number of USA news sources which display Biden being called out for his dishonesty. I try not to use insults, but your comment is childish and easily disputed. Nobody is disputing Trump's mendacity. For clarity, I do not distrust Russian, Chinese, North Korean, and Iranians just because I am told by our owners that I should. I don't see Russia, China, North Korea or Iran as my enemy. The only reason you do, is because you are gullible, easily manipulated, and incapable of understanding the world in which you exist. You do know, of course, that all four countries you mention have been invaded by the USA. Have any of the four countries you mention ever invaded the USA?

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