18 American Presidents Didn’t Have a Vice President For All or Part of Their Terms
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 was one of four presidents who served the entirety of their term without a vp. Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, and Chester Arthur all took office after the death of the president and finished their term without a vice president. Before 1967, when the 25th Amendment was adopted, the VP’s position could not be filled until the next post-election inauguration.
Fortunately, the 25th Amendment meant Richard Nixon could appoint a second vice president after his first (Spiro Agnew) resigned when caught taking bribes. When Nixon himself resigned in disgrace, his second vice president, Gerald Ford, became president Both Nixon and Ford only spent a few months without a Vice President. And thus ended the tradition of leaving the vice presidential slot empty: America has never been without a vice president since.
List of US Presidents without Vice Presidents
- James Madison from 1812-1813
- James Madison from 1814-1817
- Andrew Jackson from 1832-1833
- John Tyler from 1841-1845*
- Millard Fillmore from 1850-1853*
- Franklin Pierce from 1853-1857
- Andrew Johnson from 1865-1869*
- Ulysses S. Grant from 1875-1877
- Chester A. Arthur from 1881-1885*
- Grover Cleveland from 1885-1889
- William McKinley from 1899-1901
- Theodore Roosevelt from 1901-1905
- William H. Taft from 1912-1913
- Calvin Coolidge from 1923-1925
- Harry S. Truman from 1945-1949
- Lyndon B. Johnson from 1963-1965
- Richard Nixon from October 10 – December 6, 1973
- Gerald Ford from August 9 – December 19, 1974
* – Served entire term without a Vice President
For more fun historical facts and modern day perspectives, follow the author of The Forgotten History Blog on Twitter.