Special Report

Here Are the 48 People Who Became Vice President

Source: 37467370@N08 / Flickr

16. Andrew Johnson
> Presidential administration(s): Abraham Lincoln
> Year(s) in office: 1865
> Party affiliation: Democratic

Andrew Johnson was a senator from Tennessee and the only Southern senator to remain loyal to the Union after his state had seceded. President Abraham Lincoln, seeking reelection in 1864, chose Johnson to be his running mate, replacing sitting Vice President Hannibal Hamlin.

Johnson was vice president for just 42 days and became president on April 15, 1865, following the assassination of Lincoln. As president, Johnson ran afoul with the Republicans in Congress over Reconstruction policies after the war, and in 1868, he became the first president to be impeached. He was acquitted by one vote in the Senate.

Source: cornelluniversitylibrary / Flickr

17. Schuyler Colfax
> Presidential administration(s): Ulysses S. Grant
> Year(s) in office: 1869 – 1873
> Party affiliation: Republican

Schuyler Colfax served in the House of Representatives for 15 years, six of which as Speaker of the House, before becoming vice president under Ulysses S. Grant. Colfax was successful in his earlier years in politics due to his ability to get along with people of differing political persuasions and was nicknamed “Smiler” Colfax. This quality ultimately became a liability, however, as many saw it as manipulative and self serving. Colfax was removed by his party from the ticket during Grant’s reelection bid.

Later the same year, Colfax was implicated in a corruption scandal that involved illegal contract practices for the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. It was later revealed that Colfax had accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from a government contractor.

Source: United States Library of Congress cwpbh.0067 / Wikimedia Commons

18. Henry Wilson
> Presidential administration(s): Ulysses S. Grant
> Year(s) in office: 1873 – 1875
> Party affiliation: Republican

Henry Wilson was born Jeremiah Jones Colbath to a poor Massachusetts family and changed his name in adulthood. He overcame poverty, became a business owner and later interested in politics. He was a passionate abolitionist and a supporter on women’s right to vote. He served 18 years in the Senate and became known for his ability to read public opinion.

President Ulysses S. Grant picked the ambitious Wilson as vice president for his second term, replacing the sitting VP, Schuyler Colfax. Republican leaders believed Wilson would help Grant with the working class vote. During the 1872 campaign, Wilson was tainted by a scandal in which elected officials were accused of taking railroad stock at reduced or no cost in exchange for backing legislation that would bankroll construction of a transcontinental railroad line. A congressional investigating committee cleared him of the charges. On the campaign trail, Wilson went on a long speaking tour on which he traveled 10,000 miles. The tour took its toll on his health, and he died in 1875, while in office.

Source: United States Library of Congress cwpbh.00628 / Wikimedia Commons

19. William A. Wheeler
> Presidential administration(s): Rutherford B. Hayes
> Year(s) in office: 1877 – 1881
> Party affiliation: Republican

Before becoming vice president to Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes, William A. Wheeler was known in Congress for his honesty and quality of character — attributes that made him an ideal candidate at a time when high profile politicians were being implicated in scandals and public trust was low. Hayes and Wheeler ultimately won the executive office despite not campaigning and a contested election.

Wheeler had little power as vice president but maintained a close personal friendship with Hayes.

Source: National Archives / Getty Images

20. Chester A. Arthur
> Presidential administration(s): James A. Garfield
> Year(s) in office: 1881
> Party affiliation: Republican

Chester A. Arthur was another New Yorker who served as vice president. Arthur was connected to the Republican Party political machine led by Sen. Roscoe Conkling that was tied to corruption in civil service in the 19th century. Presidential hopeful James A. Garfield needed a New Yorker on the GOP ticket because of the Empire State’s trove of Electoral College votes, so Arthur was chosen.

Arthur had a reputation as an easy-going man who did the bidding for Conkling, even when he was vice president. Garfield was assassinated in 1881, and Arthur ascended to the presidency after serving as vice president for just 199 days. Arthur turned against his mentor Conkling and embarked on civil service reform.

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