Medical Histories of the Vice-Presidents
- Seven Vice Presidents have died in office
(Clinton in 1812,
Gerry in 1814,
King in 1853,
Wilson in 1875,
Hendricks in 1885,
Hobart in 1899,
Sherman in 1912). In each case the office remained open because there was no provision to
fill a vacancy in the Vice Presidency. This changed when the
to the Constitution was ratified.
Agnew resigned from office in 1973, the vacancy was
promptly filled by
was nominated as George W. Bush's running mate in 2000, despite a 22-year
history of symptomatic atherosclerosis.
- Partly to avoid hurting his Presidential campaign,
Humphrey did not undergo an aggressive
medical evaluation when he passed blood in his urine in 1968. This was an early symptom of the
bladder cancer that ultimately killed him in 1978.
Sherman was renominated as Taft's running mate in 1912, but died before the election. Taft did not win that year.
The Vice Presidents
George Clinton (1739-1812)
Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814)
- John Adams -- see Presidential entry
- Thomas Jefferson -- see Presidential entry
- Aaron Burr (1756-1836)
Daniel D. Tompkins (1774-1825)
- VP 1813-1814 under James Madison
- died in office
- His name gave rise to the word "gerrymander"
John C. Calhoun (1782-1850)
Martin van Buren -- see Presidential entry
Richard M. Johnson (1780-1850)
- VP 1817-1825 under James Monroe
- reputed to be a drunkard [Remini 143], but this is probably unfair
John Tyler -- see Presidential entry
George M. Dallas (1792-1864)
Millard Fillmore -- see Presidential entry
William R. D. King (1786-1853)
- VP 1837-1841 under Martin van Buren
- Was elected Vice President by the Senate. No Vice Presidential candidate had received a majority of the electoral vote.
John C. Breckinridge (1821-1875)
- VP 1853-1853 under Franklin Pierce
- died in office after less than 7 weeks as Vice President -- the shortest term of any Vice-President who did not accede to the Presidency
Hannibal Hamlin (1809-1891)
Andrew Johnson -- see Presidential entry
Schuyler Colfax (1823-1885)
- VP 1857-1861 under James Buchanan
- became a general in the Confederate Army after leaving office, and later Secretary of War for Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
- On Dec. 7, 1863, rumors of his death prompted the New York Times to editorialize his life.
- Labelling him one of the "basest and wickedest of traitors," this may be the most damning judgement of a nationally-elected figure in American history.
Henry Wilson (1812-1875)
- VP 1869-1873 under Ulysses Grant
- Was not renominated as Grant's running mate 1872 because of corruption questions.
William A. Wheeler (1819-1887)
Chester Arthur -- see Presidential entry
Thomas A. Hendricks (1819-1885)
Levi P. Morton (1824-1920)
Adlai E. Stevenson (1835-1914)
- VP 1873-1875 under Ulysses Grant
- died in office, in the Capitol building
- Born "Jeremiah Jones Colbath," but legally changed his name at age 20
Garret A. Hobart (1844-1899)
Theodore Roosevelt -- see Presidential entry
Charles W. Fairbanks (1852-1918)
James S. Sherman (1855-1912)
- VP 1893-1897 under Grover Cleveland
- lived in three rooms in a Washington hotel. [Manners p. 39]
Thomas R. Marshall (1854-1925)
Calvin Coolidge -- see Presidential entry
Charles G. Dawes (1865-1951)
- VP 1909-1912 under William Taft
- died in office, on October 30, 1912 after being renominated for the 1912 campaign. Although Sherman added no particular strength to the ticket, Taft felt that the hurried substitution of President Butler of Columbia University puzzled the voters. -- pringle-taft p. 836
- Taft wrote, on July 10, 1912, "I hear Jim Sherman is quite ill with cardiac asthma, and that his condition is very serious. He does not expect to be back here [in Washington] for a month. He was not looking well when I saw him." [WHT-Helen Herron Taft, July 10, 1912]
- Since 1904 Sherman had suffered from Bright's disease, a serious kidney ailment. During the long session of the Senate in 1912, Sherman's discomfort had been increased by the Senate's inability to elect a Republican president pro tempore who might spell him as presiding officer. He returned to Utica, where his family doctor diagnosed his condition as dangerous and prescribed rest and relaxation. His doctor urged him not even to deliver his speech accepting the nomination, at ceremonies planned for late August. "You may know all about medicine," Sherman responded, "but you don't know about politics." Sherman went through with the ceremonies and spoke for half an hour. Two days later, his health collapsed, leaving him bedridden. By mid-September, Sherman felt well enough to travel to Connecticut, where he checked into an oceanside hotel to recuperate. When reporters caught up with him and asked why he had avoided campaigning, Sherman replied, "Don't you think I look like a sick man?" -- http://www.senate.gov/learning/stat_vp27.html
- Taft considered naming the progressive governor of Missouri, Herbert S. Hadley, to replace Sherman, but members of the national committee persuaded the president that it would be poor politics to choose someone who was unlikely to carry his own state in the election. So Taft put off the decision and went into the election with a deceased running mate. It mattered little, since the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, won the presidency handily. Taft came in a dismal third, with only the 8 electoral votes of Vermont and Utah. In January, the Republican National Committee named another New Yorker, Columbia University president Nicholas Butler, to fill out the Republican ticket for purposes of receiving electoral votes, which were counted on February 12, 1913. -- http://www.senate.gov/learning/stat_vp27.html
Charles Curtis (1860-1936)
John N. Garner (1868-1967)
Henry A. Wallace (1888-1965)
Harry Truman -- see Presidential entry
Alben W. Barkley (1877-1956)
Richard Nixon -- see Presidential entry
Lyndon Johnson -- see Presidential entry
Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978)
- VP 1925-1929 under Calvin Coolidge
- When the Senate voted on the confirmation of Charles B. Warren as Attorney General in 1925, Dawes fell asleep. The vote was a tie. Vice President Dawes, had he been awake, would have cast the deciding vote, but, instead, a major Presidential nominee went down to defeat for the first time in 60 years. Outside the Dawes' hotel, a wag put up a sign: DAWES SLEPT HERE. -- [Dole p. 72] [Stoddard 134]
Spiro T. Agnew (1918-1996)
Gerald Ford -- see Presidential entry
Nelson A. Rockefeller (1908-1979)
- VP 1965-1969 under Lyndon Johnson
- died of bladder cancer. When he was a candidate for president in 1968, he passed blood in his urine. A committee of 3 missed the diagnosis; the opinion of the Johns Hopkins physician was correct.
- New England Journal of Medicine. 1994;330:1276-1278. PMID = 7993407. It cites:
- Berman E. Hubert: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Humphrey I Knew. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1979.
- Cohn V. We must know about our leader's health. Washington Post. March 26, 1978: C1.
- Solberg C. Hubert Humphrey: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton, 1984.
- Clark M, Shapiro D. Humphrey's operation. Newsweek. October 18, 1976: 87.
- H.H.H.'s cystectomy. Time. October 18, 1976: 100-102.
- Humphrey's bladder wall penetrated by cancer. New York Times. October 16, 1976: 6.
- Brody JE. Humphrey's bladder removed in surgery. New York Times. October 8, 1976: I11.
Walter F. Mondale (1928-date)
- VP 1974-1977 under Gerald Ford
- died suddenly and unexpectedly. There are salacious stories involving his secretary, Megan Marshak [sp?].
- Is there a picture of his body being carried out of the building in LOOK Magazine, March 5, 1979 on page 39?
George Bush -- see Presidential entry
Danforth (Dan) Quayle (1947-date)
- VP 1977-1981 under James Carter
- Hypertension, controlled with medications [Crispell and Gomez, page 236]
Albert (Al) Gore (1948-date)
Richard (Dick) Cheney (1941-date)
Joseph Biden (1942-date)
- VP 1989-1993 under George Bush
- Hospitalized with blood clot in lung on November 28, 1994.
- Hospitalized with appendicitis on January 2, 1995. Underwent laparoscopic appendectomy. A CT scan had disclosed an enlarged appendix during previous hospitalization.
- Says he will not run for President on February 9, 1995.
- Sources = [laparoscopic] www.ussurg.com/health-care/medical-news/9502.html, [all the rest] www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/conventions/san.diego/facts/calendar/index.shtml
- VP 2009-date under Barack Obama
- The book What It Takes, by Richard Ben Cramer, recounts Biden's 1988 cerebral aneurysm and operation.
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