Wednesday, October 14, 2009
What do you know about the office of President of the United States and the men who have served in that office? I discovered a lot of new information when I began studying about our presidents. I would like to share some of the information with you tonight. The Constitution establishes three qualifications for a president to legally be elected to the office. A president must 1) be at least 35 years old, 2) have lived in the United States at least 14 years, and 3) be a natural-born citizen. The courts have not yet determined what "natural-born citizen" means. It could mean only those born within the boundaries of the United States or it could also be any person born abroad to American parents. If a President dies, resigns, is disabled, or is removed from office, the Vice President becomes the new President. Nine Vice Presidents have become President by filling a vacancy. If both the President and Vice President become unable to fill the office, the Speaker of the House is next in line, followed by President pro tempore of the Senate and then the secretary of state, treasury, and defense, the attorney general, followed by the secretaries of interior, agriculture, commerce, labor, health and human services, housing and urban development, transportation, energy, education, and veterans affairs. A person can be elected to the office of President of United States for only two terms. Before the Twenty-second Amendment was approved in 1951, a President could serve an unlimited number of terms. Nobody who has served as President for more than two years of someone else's term may be elected more than once. I find it very interesting that from 1787 when the Constitution was written until 1951 when it was amended, only one president chose to run for office more than twice. That one person, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was elected for four different terms. After his death in 1945, the Constitution was amended. Because Harry S. Truman was the current president when the Amendment was approved, he was given the option to be elected more than twice; he wisely determined that two terms were enough. Two sets of fathers and sons have served as President. John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams was the only set until George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush joined them in 2000. There has also been a grandfather and grandson who have both been President: William H. Harrison and Benjamin Harrison. Grover Cleveland was the only President to serve two nonconsecutive terms. His first term was 1885-1889, followed by Benjamin Cleveland 1889-1893, and then Grover Cleveland was elected again to serve 1893-1897. Richard M. Nixon was the only former Vice President who became President but did not succeed the President under whom he served. He was Vice President under Dwight D. Eisenhower but was defeated by John F. Kennedy. He didn't run again under after Lyndon B. Johnson. Gerald R. Ford was the only President who did not win election to either the office of Vice President or President. He was serving his thirteenth term in the House of Representatives when Richard M. Nixon picked him to replace Spiro T. Agnew as Vice President. Agnew resigned early in 1973 because of bribery charges. When Nixon resigned in August 1974, Ford became President. He later ran for re-election but was defeated by Jimmy Carter. I personally think that Ford was one of our best Presidents. James K. Polk was the only President who had previously served as Speaker of the House. William H. Taft was the only President who served as both President and chief justice. Taft was a former President when he officiated as chief justice to swear into office both Calvin Coolidge and Herbert C. Hoover. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826. James Monroe died July 4, 1831. Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872. William H. Taft was the largest President. He stood about 6 feet tall and weighed more than 300 pounds. John F. Kennedy at 43 was the youngest person ever elected President, and Ronald W. Reagan at 73 was the oldest person ever elected President. George Washington was the first President. John Adams was the first President to live in the White House. Thomas Jefferson was the first President to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C. James Buchanan was the only unmarried President. Grover Cleveland was the only President to have a child born in the White House. John Tyler was the President with the most children - fifteen. James K. Polk had no children. Four Presidents have been assassinated while in office: Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. Harry S. Truman, Gerald R. Ford, and Ronald Reagan survived attempted assassinations. Other Presidents who died in office are William H. Harrison (He died in the White House after serving as President for only one month.), Zachary Taylor, Warren G. Harding, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Two Presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson and William J. Clinton. They both remained in office because the Senate failed to convict them of the charges. Congress is allowed by the Constitution to remove a President from office. The President must first be impeached or charged with doing something wrong by a majority vote of the House of Representatives. Then, with the Chief Justice of the United States presiding, the Senate tries the President on the charges. Two-thirds of the Senate must vote for dismissal from office. George Washington and James Madison were the only future Presidents to sign the Constitution. Ronald W. Reagan received the greatest number of electoral votes in 1984 (525). Andrew Jackson was the first President to ride on a railroad train. Woodrow Wilson was the first President to speak on radio and to hold the first regular presidential press conferences. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first President to speak on television. Lyndon B. Johnson was the only President to be sworn into office on an airplane as well as the only President to be sworn into office by a woman (Judge Sarah T. Hughes). Barack H. Obama was the first African-American President. Our forty-four Presidents were born in twenty different states. The largest number of Presidents came from Virginia (8) followed by Ohio (7), Massachusetts (4), New York (4), Texas 3, New Jersey (2), North Carolina (2), Vermont (2), and one for each of the following states: Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. I discovered that five members of my immediate family (my mother, two brothers, a grandson and myself) share a birthday with a former President. There are many more interesting facts about the lives of the forty-four men who have served as United States Presidents. I'll be sharing this information with you from time to time.