We’re used to seeing a president and a vice president, but more than a dozen times throughout American history, there hasn’t been a sitting VP.
The first American president to spend part of his time in office without a #2 was James Madison who was savvy enough to win two terms in office. One thing he wasn’t good at? Choosing his vice presidents apparently. Both men he chose for his first and second terms died part of the way through them, so he simply finished his terms without a veep!
The situation arose again for a longer period of time in 1841 when John Tyler left his spot as the vice president to become the president (his president, William Henry Harrison, died after just a month in office). Tyler served the entirety of his term without a vp. A similar situation occurred with Millard Fillmore who became president after his #1 died as well.
Luckily Richard Nixon had the good sense to appoint a second vice president after his first (Spiro Agnew) resigned when caught taking bribes. Well, good sense, plus the 25th Amendment (ratified in 1967) which required a Vice President at all times. When Nixon himself resigned in disgrace, his second vice president, Gerald Ford, became president. And thus ended the tradition of leaving the vice presidential slot empty: America has never been without a vice president since.
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