13 Things You Didn’t Know About the Vice Presidency

Sure, everybody's always talking about the Presidents, but what about the other guys? We searched high and low to find the most interesting facts about the second highest office in the land.

They are American history's second bananas, forever waiting in the wings.

They are the nation's number-twos, often overlooked, inevitably under-appreciated. And they are, of course, just a heartbeat away from the most powerful job in the free world. They are the Vice Presidents, and there have been 47 of them. To learn more about this exclusive group, click away.

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Not a bad consolation prize:

From 1788 to 1800, the presidential candidate who received the second most Electoral College votes was declared the vice president.

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Practice makes perfect:

Fourteen vice presidents have become president (eight because the president died in office, and one because the president resigned). Of the five non-"accidental" presidents—John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, Richard Nixon, and George H. W. Bush—all but Nixon were elected immediately after their term as vice president.

Photo credit: Richard Nixon Presidential Library/Wikimedia Commons

Until 1967...

It's hard to believe, but there was no official line of succession to the presidency until the 25th Amendment was passed in 1967. Prior to the amendment's ratification, it was merely assumed that the vice president would assume the presidency if the president died or was removed from office.

Photo credit: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

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Fun fact about Paul Ryan:

As a summer job in college, Ryan worked as a salesman for Oscar Mayer and drove the company's Wienermobile.

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Fun fact about Joe Biden:

For years Biden commuted to work via Amtrak between Wilmington, Delaware and Washington, D.C. (about an 80-minute ride each way). As a result, he's friends with many Amtrak staff, and hosts an annual Christmas dinner for Amtrak crew members.

Photo credit: Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia Commons

Vice President, for a month!

In 1841, Vice President John Tyler got the big job when William Henry Harrison died of complications from pneumonia only 32 days after taking office. Harrison's death instigated a brief constitutional crisis (that amendment addressing presidential succession wasn't passed until 1967), but it was decided that Tyler would assume the role of president.

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Groundbreaker John Adams!

John Adams was the first vice president, serving under President George Washington (1789-1797). He was nicknamed "His Rotundity" because of his weight and arrogant attitude.

Photo credit: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

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Home, sweet home:

The vice president and his family now live in the Naval Observatory. Originally the VP lived in his own private home, but in 1977, VP Walter Mondale and his family moved into the newly renovated Observatory, becoming the first vice president to live in a government-supplied house.

Photo credit: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Tumultous times:

It took three vice presidents to complete the 1973-1977 vice presidential term. First, Spiro Agnew, President Nixon's original VP, resigned following a criminal investigation; then Gerald Ford, Agnew's replacement, assumed the presidency after Nixon's resignation; and finally Nelson Rockefeller became Vice President under Ford.

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If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Two candidates unsuccessful in their campaigns for the vice presidency went on to become President: John Tyler and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Years before he became President, vice presidential candidate FDR and his running mate, Ohio Governor James Cox, were defeated by Warren G. Harding's ticket in 1921. Few at the time doubted he would run for public office again.

Photo credit: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Take this job and...

John C. Calhoun was the first vice president to resign from office; he quit in 1832 to run for the Senate. It would be over one hundred years until a second vice president would resign: Spiro Agnew left office in 1973 following accusations of bribery and extortion from his term as governor of Maryland.

Photo credit: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

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The scandal that almost was:

Richard Nixon nearly lost his place on the Eisenhower ticket in 1952 amid concerns about a fund his backers had created to cover his political expenses. In a speech broadcast on still-novel "TV," then California Senator Nixon successfully defended himself. His address became known as the "Checkers speech" because Nixon assured listeners that he intended to keep one gift in question, a dog his children had named Checkers.

Photo credit: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

"President" of the U.S. Senate:

The vice president serves as the president, or presiding officer, of the U.S. Senate. The VP can only cast a vote in the Senate to break a tie. In honor of the vice president's role, the Senate halls contain busts of every VP.

Photo credit: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

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