1967: The 25th Amendment (VP Succeeds President) Is Adopted

By | February 5, 2020

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Fredric March as US President Jordan Lyman in 'Seven Days In May.' Source: IMDB

What happens if a U.S. President resigns -- or has to be removed from office? Until the 25th Amendment to the Constitution was adopted in 1967, there wasn't a firm answer. 

Such a weighty document as the Constitution has seen many changes over the years as our days of throwing tea into harbors and wooden teeth are well behind us. One such change that came more recently than many people recall was the 25th Amendment, which stipulates the line of succession and, most importantly, the terms of passing the title of Commander in Chief. Surprisingly, prior to 1967, Presidents of the United States wrote their own terms of who would succeed them in the case of death or incapacitation. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about the 25th Amendment of our Constitution.

We’re Still Workshopping That

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As we mentioned, prior to the ratification of the 25th Amendment, Presidents decided on their own who would take over, when and what constituted “incapacitation.” The first time such a concern arose was in 1841 when William Harrison became the first President to die in office. John Tyler took over when Harrison’s cabinet gave him the title of “Vice President Acting President.”

Tyler, perhaps, conscious of history, decided that title sucked and moved into the White House, swore himself in, and even gave an Inaugural Address. His boldness stirred quite a bit of controversy but he was eventually confirmed by Congress. Despite the hubbub, no one moved to change the process at that time.